Despite winning five national championships in the last nine years, Alabama is not the strongest brand in college football, the south, the Southeastern Conference, nor the state of Alabama.
According to a Pick Six Previews study, the Tide was the 19th strongest brand in the country.
Pick Six Previews asked "224 recruits to grade their interest and desire in each program as if they were the number one recruit in the country (i.e. they had offers from every school)." When the results were tabulated, Alabama was not in the top five. Nor was the Crimson Tide in the top ten. Even Florida made the top 15, but not Alabama. There were four SEC schools ranked whose "brand" was considered stronger than–hands down–the best college football program over the last decade.
While 224 recruits voted Alabama 19th, it obviously has not affected recruiting. The Tide has consistently been ranked in the top five since Nick Saban took over the program in 2007. In fact, the lowest Alabama has ranked in recruiting since Saban's first full year on the job was sixth.
During that time, the list of teams who have not come close to matching the success Alabama has had–both in recruiting and on the field–is…well, everyone.
Stronger brands like Clemson, Michigan State, Oregon, Penn State and Stanford have fallen short of Alabama's recruiting prowess. Heck, the 15th strongest brand, Notre Dame hasn’t ranked in single digits since 2013. The list goes on and on. There are 18 schools with a stronger brand, according to the report, yet it has not affected Alabama's ability to entice the best players in the country, or at least the South, where the university's brand ranks eighth.
This is not to refute a study that was painstakingly done and might shed some light on how certain teams are able to be in the national title picture year in and year out. Clemson and Ohio State, the only two other schools to win national titles the last four years rank first and second.
Maybe, however, just maybe, we can look at the 200-plus recruits who seemed to question Alabama's brand. A teenage mind is one full of cosmic mystery and…stupidity.
This is not an opinion, but rather fact.
Neurologist Frances Jensen investigated the inner-workings of a male teenager. What Jensen found should probably make sense to every person–well, ever.
[In a teenage brain, the] crucial part of the brain — the frontal lobes — are not fully connected.
"It's the part of the brain that says: 'Is this a good idea? What is the consequence of this action?' " Jensen says. "It's not that they don't have a frontal lobe. And they can use it. But they're going to access it more slowly."
That's because the nerve cells that connect teenagers' frontal lobes with the rest of their brains are sluggish. Teenagers don't have as much of the fatty coating called myelin, or "white matter," that adults have in this area.
It's doubtful that the majority of these recruits–if given the option–would choose Notre Dame over Alabama. Unless there were significant ties linking that player to the Irish.
It's also doubtful that the perceived brand rankings will have an effect on Alabama going forward.
No other school has won multiple championships since Nick Saban came to Alabama. The Crimson Tide have won as many titles the last ten years as EVERY OTHER SCHOOL IN THE COUNTRY COMBINED. No one has won five titles in nine years since World War II. Alabama's current run is unequaled and almost inconceivable in the modern era of nationalized coverage. There is supposed to be more parity, yet Saban's squad is near the top every year.
More than likely, the Crimson Tide will enter 2018 as the national title favorite. It's also safe to assume the only brand Saban actually cares about is Gatorade. Specifically when it is being dumped on him in January.