TUSCALOOSA, Ala. | Nick Saban doesn't want to talk about rankings in September. He even insists he doesn't even know where Alabama stands in the polls.
If that's true — and it seems unlikely even for the ultra-focused coach — he's one of the few in college football still in the dark. The second-ranked Crimson Tide has been all the rage since a mostly one-sided win at then-No. 3 Georgia Saturday night, but Saban cares far more about his team staying focused and keeping it going.
"I don't even know what we're ranked. Nobody's told me," Saban said Monday, 24 hours after the latest AP poll came out. "I don't really care because it really doesn't matter. Whatever it is, can somebody tell me who was ranked there last year at this time? Does anybody know?"
Sure, coach. It was LSU, your former team and the eventual national champion. If that result renders the analogy a little less effective, his point is clear: The Tide (5-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) hasn't won anything yet.
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If that message didn't come through, Saban poses another question: "Who was leading the marathon at the Olympics halfway through? Can anybody tell me. If they didn't win, it doesn't matter. Nobody cares."
The Tide is a long way from the finish line entering Saturday's game against unbeaten Kentucky (4-0). After that, the always-brutal SEC schedule includes visits to Tennessee and LSU and a home game with Auburn.
Saban doesn't have to go back even a week to hammer his point home. There was Oregon State's upset of top-ranked Southern California on Thursday night and Mississippi's win at then-No. 4 Florida on Saturday.
Saban even paraphrased postgame comments from two of those team's stars.
"It's the same old thing. You can read what (Mark) Sanchez says at USC about, 'We weren't prepared for this game. We didn't prepare right.' Or what (Florida's) Percy Harvin says about, 'I don't know how we let this happen.'
"If you get satisfied and you fall in love with yourself, you get complacent and lose your desire."
That's why Saban greeted his players for Monday's 7 a.m. film review by pointing out special teams snafus and what he perceived as late-game letdowns. Tide players said he offered plenty of praise, too, but later talked to reporters about "monumental" breakdowns on special teams that included allowing a punt return for a touchdown.
The Tide has racked up plenty of positive signs in rising to its highest ranking in 15 years. Nobody else has beaten two Top 10 teams already, after all, and done it easily. Alabama raced to a 31-0 halftime lead before Georgia made it more respectable in the second half before losing 41-30.
Plus, Alabama hasn't trailed all season, has outscored opponents 74-0 in the first half and is one of four Bowl Subdivision teams with four non-offensive touchdowns.
The Tide also leads the SEC in scoring and rushing offense and rushing defense.
'Bama players insist their approach doesn't change even with the lofty ranking, which cornerback Javier Arenas said "doesn't make a bit of difference."
"It's not a whole different ballgame," Arenas said. "We're the same football team we were when we came out of training camp. We're aware of it, but we're mature enough to not let that affect us. People were talking good about us before this game and we didn't let it get to our head."
But No. 2? Come on, that's a big deal, right?
"It was cool," Arenas conceded briefly. "It doesn't mean anything to us. At the end of the season ask me how it felt and I'll let you know."