TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama football team begins the 2013 season right where it left off nearly seven months ago.
On Thursday, USA Today Sports named the two-time defending national champion as its No. 1 team in its preseason coaches poll. This is the second time the Crimson Tide has been ranked preseason No. 1 in the past four years.
Alabama returns seven starters on defense and six on offense. It has won three of the past four national championships, and is 61-7 in the past five seasons under coach Nick Saban.
Alabama also owns the longest active streak of appearances in the USA Today Coaches Poll (81), including the past 33 polls in the top five. The Crimson Tide also was preseason No. 1 entering the 2010 season when they finished 10-3 record and were ranked No. 11 in the final coaches poll.
Ohio State University is No. 2 in the poll, followed by the University of Oregon, Stanford University, and the University of Georgia. The Southeastern Conference has six teams — Texas A&M University (No. 6), the University of South Carolina (No. 7), the University of Florida (No. 10), and LSU (No. 13) — in the USA Today Preseason Top 25. The University of Mississippi, Vanderbilt University, Mississippi State University, the University of Arkansas, and the University of Tennessee are also receiving votes.
Alabama’s margin of 118 poll points on Ohio State is the largest preseason lead for a No. 1 since 2005.
In addition to the ranking, Alabama placed five players on the Sporting News All-America Team. All of them were on the 27-player first team.
Senior linebacker C.J. Mosley and junior safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix were named to the first-team defense, while senior guard Anthony Steen, sophomore running back T.J. Yeldon and sophomore Amari Cooper were first-team picks on offense.
Mosley led the team a year ago with 107 tackles, while Clinton-Dix had a team- and SEC-high five interceptions. Steen helped clear the way for 445.5 yards per game of total offense, while Cooper set freshman records for yards (1,000), touchdowns (11), and receptions (59). Yeldon rushed for a rookie-record 1,108 yards and 12 rushing scores.
There were 12 SEC players on the first team, including Johnny Manziel (quarterback, Texas A&M), Todd Gurley (RB, Georgia), Jadeveon Clowney (defensive end, South Carolina), Anthony Johnson (defensive tackle, LSU), Loucheiz Purifoy (cornerback, Florida), Kyle Christy (punter, Florida), and Marcus Murphy (punt returner, University of Missouri).
n In related news, Alabama will hold an open practice from 2:30-4:30 p.m. Sunday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Following practice, the Fan Day portion of the festivities is slated to begin at approximately 4:30 p.m.
Players and coaches will be available for autographs immediately after the practice on the field.
Fans may enter the stadium beginning at 1:30 p.m. at gates 11 and 17 and occupy the lower bowl (sections A-N). For security purposes, all items are subject to inspection as fans enter the stadium for both the practice and Fan Day activities.
Children attending can sign up for the Big Al’s Kids Club and all fans can register for the Crimson Tide Rewards program outside the West side of the stadium, between gates 11 and 17 beginning at 1:30 p.m.
At the conclusion of practice, those wishing to participate in Fan Day will enter the field through gate 44 and exit via gates 11 and 17. Fans not wishing to view practice and would like to start lining up early can do so beginning at 1:30 p.m. Those fans can enter through gate 44.
Following practice, the Crimson Tide football team, coaching staff, and Saban will be available for autographs on the field for 45 minutes. The gate to the field will be open once the autograph session has been set up. In an effort to facilitate as many autographs in the time allowed, fans will be limited to one item per person for autographs, and no posed photographs will be permitted.
Soft drinks, water, and several food items will be available for a special Fan Day price of 50 percent below regular game-day prices. Concessions vendors will walk through the stadium with items for sale and the concession stands on the west side (field and mezzanine levels) will be open. Alabama merchandise also will be sold, and 5,000 autograph posters sponsored by BBVA Compass Bank will be given away.
Parking for Fan Day can be found in the West ten Hoor area of campus. Two parking decks and surface lots also will be available. Parking for persons with disabilities is available on a first-come, first-served basis in the Communications card Lot and Wallace Wade Lots. No special accommodations will be made for recreational vehicles (RVs) on campus. All RVs should park at the Northington Lot near University Mall.
In case of inclement weather, the Fan Day portion of the afternoon would be moved into Coleman Coliseum.
Fans can go to www.rolltide.com for updates and other pertinent information.