Nick Saban doesn't want to talk about
rankings in September, and insists he doesn't even know where
Alabama stands in the polls.
If that's true - and it seems unlikely even for the
ultra-focused coach - he's one of the few in college football still
in the dark. The second-ranked Crimson Tide has been all the rage
since a mostly one-sided win at then-No. 3 Georgia Saturday night,
but Saban cares far more about his team staying focused and keeping
"I don't even know what we're ranked. Nobody's told me," Saban
said Monday, 24 hours after the latest AP poll came out. "I don't
really care because it really doesn't matter. Whatever it is, can
somebody tell me who was ranked there last year at this time? Does
Sure, coach. It was LSU, your former team and the eventual
national champion. If that result renders the analogy a little less
effective, his point is clear: The Tide (5-0, 2-0 Southeastern
Conference) hasn't won anything yet except five games, some respect
and plenty of acclaim.
If that message didn't come through, Saban poses another
question: "Who was leading the marathon at the Olympics halfway
through? Can anybody tell me. If they didn't win, it doesn't
matter. Nobody cares."
The Tide is a long way from the finish line entering Saturday's
game against unbeaten Kentucky (4-0). After that, the always brutal
SEC schedule includes visits to Tennessee and LSU and a home game
Saban doesn't even have to go back a full week to hammer his
point home. There was Oregon State's upset of top-ranked Southern
California and Mississippi's win at then-No. 4 Florida. The Tide
still plays the Rebels, by the way.
Saban even paraphrased postgame comments from two of those
"It's the same old thing. You can read what (Mark) Sanchez says
at USC about, 'We weren't prepared for this game. We didn't prepare
right.' Or what (Florida's) Percy Harvin says about, 'I don't know
how we let this happen.'
"If you get satisfied and you fall in love with yourself, you
get complacent and lose your desire."
That's why Saban greeted his players for Monday's 7 a.m. film
review by pointing out special teams snafus and what he perceived
as late-game letdowns. Tide players said he offered plenty of
praise, too, but later talked to reporters about "monumental"
breakdowns on special teams that included allowing a punt return
for a touchdown.
The Tide has racked up plenty of positive signs in rising to its
highest ranking in 15 years. Nobody else has beaten two Top 10
teams already, after all, and done it easily. Alabama raced to a
31-0 halftime lead before Georgia made it more respectable in the
second half and fell 41-30.
Plus, Alabama hasn't trailed all season, has outscored opponents
74-0 in the first half and is one of four FBS teams with four
The Tide also leads the SEC in scoring and rushing offense and
'Bama players insist their approach doesn't change even with the
lofty ranking, which cornerback Javier Arenas said "doesn't make a
bit of difference."
"It's not a whole different ball game," Arenas said. "We're
the same football team we were when we came out of training camp.
We're aware of it, but we're mature enough to not let that affect
us. People were talking good about us before this game and we
didn't let it get to our head."
But No. 2? Come on, that's a big deal, right?
"It was cool," Arenas conceded briefly. "It doesn't mean
anything to us. At the end of the season ask me how it felt and
I'll let you know."