- Edward Aschoff, ESPN Staff Writer
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In college football, repeats only really occur in the video game world.
The last time the sport had a consensus back-to-back national champion was Nebraska in 1995. USC claims to have won in both 2003 and 2004, but there was a split with LSU in 2004.
Florida has missed out on it twice since 2006 and Alabama couldn't do it in 2010. However, Alabama is one of just four other programs to claim back-to-back titles since 1960 (1978 and 79).
So could distant history repeat itself? Alex Scarborough of ESPN.com's TideNation dives right into that query with his three reasons why Alabama can win it all and three reasons why Alabama can't.
Scarborough brings up many of the same reasons I could see Alabama going either way in 2012. For starters, the offense could be more explosive without Trent Richardson. Yeah, I said it.
No disrespect to Richardson at all, but with a more improved quarterback in AJ McCarron, some more athleticism and depth at wide receiver and another strong, veteran offensive line to work with, the Crimson Tide shouldn't have issues moving the ball on the ground or through the air. Coach Nick Saban wants to air it out a little more and he knows McCarron has the ability to do it. The question is whether he can overcome some of his immaturity on the field to consistently get it done.
Bama's line could be chock-full of NFL first-rounders and the backfield is yet again stacked, even without Richardson. Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon lead the way, while Dee Hart and Jalston Fowler provide more than adequate depth.
Offensively, this team shouldn't have much of an issue moving the ball. Defensively, there are some questions. Scarborough points out Alabama is more retooling than rebuilding, but there's no getting around all that defensive talent this team lost. Certainly there are talented players stepping in, like linebackers Adrian Hubbard and Nico Johnson and JUCO cornerbacks Deion Belue and Travell Dixon, but experience is everything.
Saban said as much this spring and he also said he's still looking for more defensive leaders to step up before fall camp gets underway.
Also, the schedule is a bit tougher than last year. The Tide starts the year against Michigan in Arlington, Texas, which should get all those SEC-Big Ten juices flowing. And look at this road schedule: Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri (back to back) and LSU. That just doesn't sound fun at all.
Alabama's 2012 team will no doubt draw more comparisons to the 2010 squad that had defensive issues for part of the year, but from what I've gathered, this team wants that. Players want to hear about 2010 because it upsets them -- it motivates them.
The thing that team lacked was ideal leadership and if this team wants to get back to the BCS title game, that's the area where Alabama really needs to make sure it's solid in.
4mSharon Katz, ESPN Stats & Information
22mDavid M. Hale