How one UAB vote can matter more than a No. 1 ranking
Updated: Aug 26, 2019
If you're defending national champion Clemson and you get ranked No. 1 in the AP preseason poll for the first time in school history, it's nice but not all that eventful. Just makes it a little harder for Dabo Swinney to play the aw-shucks underdog.
Spoiler alert: He's anything but.
If you're defending national runner-up Alabama and you don't get ranked No. 1 in the AP preseason poll for the first time since 2015 - falling all the way to No. 2 - it's just one more twig for the motivational fire when you get to Alabama-Clemson Part V.
If you're UAB and you get one vote in the AP preseason poll, it's kind of a big deal.
This is the first time UAB has ever gotten a single vote in the AP preseason poll, which is about four decades older than the Blazer program. That's another small step into positive new territory, the latest in a series for Bill Clark and company.
However, that ranking isn't an aberration when you consider this trend. It's the eighth time in the last nine AP polls dating to last season that UAB has received at least one vote.
Think about that for a moment. Eight times in the last nine AP polls, at least one media voter thought enough of the Blazers to place them on his 1-25 ballot. In this preseason poll, it was John Bednarowski, the longtime sports editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal, who ranked UAB at No. 23.
Yes, he's a UAB graduate, but he's also a proven professional, and besides, the AP poll doesn't require recusals.
This is the place where we're required to state that starting anywhere in the poll doesn't mean you'll finish there, even if you start in the top 10. Ask our friends at Auburn, and speaking of the Tigers, who check in at No. 16 in the AP preseason poll, they would prefer you not look at last year's rankings, especially in comparison to UAB.
Auburn fell out of the top 25 for good in 2018 after losing to Tennessee to fall to 4-3, but the Tigers did manage to earn some votes the rest of the season. They received votes in six of the last eight polls last season.
Meanwhile, en route to the Conference USA and Boca Raton Bowl championships, UAB received votes in seven of the last eight polls last season. UAB received more points than Auburn in four of the final seven polls last season, and UAB finished at No. 30 overall in the season-ending AP poll, ahead of Auburn at No. 32.
Of course, this isn't a strict apples-to-apples comparison, and past success is no guarantee of future performance, but it's an indication that UAB is receiving national recognition on an unprecedented scale. The only comparison is the 2004 Blazer bunch that earned a No. 24 ranking in the first BCS standings that season, only to lose and fall out the next week, never to return.
In sum, UAB has received more poll votes in the last year than it had in its entire prior existence. It demonstrates how, if you do the math, getting even one vote can matter more than being ranked No. 1.