Despite Alabama not being a participant in the college football national championship game on Monday night, Nick Saban still found a way to be at the game, serving as an analyst as part of the ESPN College Gameday crew.
Saban got to see Georgia’s 65-7 complete domination of TCU firsthand, while providing some laughs retelling the story of Tua Tagovailoa’s second-and-26 play in the 2018 championship game to beat the Bulldogs. Saban also took what seemed like a shot from former Georgia player David Pollack, who, while sitting next to Saban, said Georgia had taken hold of college football. Saban might have a thing or two to say about that after just recently bringing home the number one recruiting class in the nation.
With the championship game out of the way, the only thing left to put a cap on the season was to release the final USA Today Sports AFCA coaches poll, a poll in which the coaches publically rank their picks for the top 25 teams.
The final poll had Georgia as a unanimous No.1 team but the No. 2 ranked team, TCU, was not unanimous. After suffering an embarrassing loss in the championship game, five coaches even voted TCU outside of the top four. Michigan and Ohio State were voted in the third and fourth spots, with Alabama finalizing the top five in the fifth spot, with all three teams receiving second-place votes, Ohio State leading the way with nine second-place votes.
Coach Saban, as one of the 63 coaches with a ballot, voted his Crimson Tide No. 2 behind Georgia, and ahead of TCU, Michigan and Ohio State rounding out his top five. Saban ranked Tennessee No. 6 and placed the team they demolished in the Sugar Bowl, Kansas State, at the No. 10 spot. Other notable teams that made Saban’s ballot and were on Alabama’s schedule this season were LSU (17), Mississippi State (20), and Texas (23).
Saban was not the only coach to vote Alabama No. 2 as UTEP coach Dana Dimel also felt that Alabama was worthy of the second place spot.
Saban's only difference in the top five compared to the final results was catapulting Alabama from the No. 5 spot to the No. 2 spot and sliding the other three teams down one. While this big move from No. 5 to No. 2 might seem a little drastic, it isn’t that far-fetched. Out of the top five teams going into the bowl games, only Alabama and Georgia ended their seasons on a win. TCU was blown out in the championship game, while Ohio State and Michigan lost in the semifinals. Meanwhile, Alabama convincingly beat the No. 9 Big 12 champions Kansas State, who beat TCU in the Big 12 championship game.
Despite Alabama having two losses, Saban made a case for his team to make the playoffs before the College Football Playoff Selection Show, as he noted that the two losses were by just a combined five points. His vote for his Crimson Tide at the No. 2 spot on his final ballot showed that he believed they deserved to be there based on their full body of work.
Below is how Saban’s ballot looked for the final USA Today Sports AFCA coaches poll.
5. Ohio State
7. Penn State
11. Florida State
12. Kansas State
15. Oregon State
19. Notre Dame
20. Mississippi State
24. South Carolina
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