Expectations at an all-time high for current Alabama team

Kevin Connell

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When the Alabama Crimson Tide kicks off its 2013 campaign against the Virginia Tech Hokies on Aug. 31, it won’t just be the start of a new season, but the beginning of an opportunity to win yet another national championship.

From almost the moment head coach Nick Saban took over the program in 2007, the Tide has transformed into arguably the greatest dynasty ever at the college level.

In the last four years alone, the Tide has won an unprecedented three national championships, including the last two in consecutive order. Despite losing three-fifths of its offensive line, its star running back and its lockdown corner among others this offseason, the Tide once again finds itself as the likely preseason No. 1 for next season.

But can you really expect anything less anymore?

If the Tide somehow finds itself not selected as the top team in America at the start of next season, it will just about be headline news on every media outlet known to man. Seriously.

It has become a routine occurrence for both the media and fans alike to see the Tide win year after year in dominating fashion. Turn on ESPN these days, and you’ll find it’s not who is going to win it all next year, it’s who – if anyone – is going to beat Alabama to win it all next year. Ask any non-Alabama fan and most will probably begrudgingly admit that yes, it’s the Tide’s title to lose once again this season.

But lo and behold, it’s the Tide’s own fans that put the team on the highest pedestal possible.

There is no denying the Crimson Tide fan base is among the passionate in sports. These are fans that eat, breathe and sleep Alabama football, but it comes with a catch: One mistake from the men in crimson and white can have the fans calling for their heads.

Take, for instance, quarterback AJ McCarron’s 4th down interception in the end zone with under two minutes to play against Texas A&M last season. Trailing 29-24, a touchdown on the play would have given the Tide its first lead of the game, but instead Alabama’s favorite son ended what would have been a miraculous comeback.

Granted, it wasn’t necessarily his fault, but try telling that to the majority of people walking out of the stadium after the loss. Many fans grilled the player that they so often brag about as if he was their own child for making such a costly mistake that for a time, ended the team’s national championship aspirations.

Some would describe these fans as “fairweather,” but I think a better word to call them is greedy. They are greedy because if the team doesn’t win a national championship, it’s labeled as a failed season.

Keep in mind that even after the loss to Texas A&M, the Crimson Tide was well on its way to receiving a BCS bowl bid. Not quite the national championship game, but a good game to end the season with nonetheless.

In truth, the Tide supporters have always had very high expectations for their favorite team. Even when the team became a laughingstock of sorts in the early 2000s, the fans prospects of the team never dwindled.

But an undefeated, return to glory national championship in 2009 raised the bar to astronomically levels that haven’t come down since.

The following season in 2010, Alabama lost three games to South Carolina, LSU and eventual national champion Auburn. All three losses were deemed completely unacceptable. A year after that in 2011, the Tide suffered another major blow in a 9-6 defeat at home against LSU before falling to Texas A&M in 2012 as aforementioned.

Every single one of those games are among the most memorable losses in recent memory throughout all of college football, because none were supposed to happen. No one realistically believes that the team that annually brings in top recruiting classes and sends first round picks to the NFL is going to lose.

With that type of attitude, it can be inferred that most expect this season’s end result to be nothing short of Saban and Co. raising yet another crystal ball high into the sky.