Alabama head coach Nick Saban has done the near impossible, building a modern-day college football dynasty in an era that includes scholarship limits, stiff opposition in the SEC and a Bowl Championship Series that serves as a two-team playoff.
The target is on the back of the Crimson Tide, and a recent player arrest may threaten the Tide's perch on the college football throne.
Cornerback Geno Smith was arrested early Sunday morning for driving under the influence, according to Andrew Gribble of AL.com.
"This is obviously not the kind of behavior we expect from our players," Saban said in a statement according to AL.com. "I don't have all of the details at this point and will handle it appropriately once I've had a chance to review the information."
Smith's punishment remains up in the air, but the charges certainly put his status during the early part of the season in doubt.
That could derail the Crimson Tide's title chances.
The 6'0", 186-pound Smith is vying with senior John Fulton, sophomore Bradley Sylve and a host of contenders for the Crimson Tide's vacant cornerback spot opposite senior Deion Belue. But whether he earned a starting spot or was relegated to the third defensive back in nickel situations, Smith is being counted on to be a contributor in 2013.
According to Alabama's student-athlete handbook, a DUI arrest is considered the same as a positive drug test (page 39). It doesn't carry an automatic suspension, but section B.8 states that punishment will be decided by the athletic director, head coach and Sports Medicine Committee on the first offense.
With Texas A&M looming in Week 3—Alabama's second game of the season—his arrest couldn't come at a worse time.
Whether Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel plays or not, one thing we do know about their wide receivers is that they are talented, physical and tall. Mike Evans, a 6'5", 225-pound sophomore, led all Aggies with 82 catches and 1,105 yards last season. Joining Evans will be 6'5", 225-pound freshman phenom Ricky Seals-Jones and 6'3", 210-pound early-enrollee JaQuay Williams.
This on top of veteran junior Malcome Kennedy, who's only 6'0'', and 6'2" senior Derel Walker.
If the charges stick, it'd be hard to imagine a scenario in which Smith doesn't miss at least one game. That means he'll either be stuck at home or rusty when the Tide visits College Station, and that creates a matchup problem against the underrated Aggies wide-receiving corps.
If the Aggies can take advantage and hand the Crimson Tide a loss in mid-September, that will create a much different dynamic to the SEC West race than the previous two seasons—when Alabama's lone losses came in November.
The margin of error will be gone, and not only will Alabama have to hope that the Aggies lose two games (unless there's a three-way tie), it will have to take care of its own business for two months, not just one.
You just don't want to live on that edge if you're Saban, especially considering a one-loss SEC champ probably wouldn't jump undefeated teams in the Pac-12, Big 12 or a Clemson team with wins over Georgia and South Carolina to earn a berth in the final BCS title game.
Geno Smith is a household name due to the accolades of the former West Virginia Mountaineer and current New York Jets quarterback with the same name. But Alabama's version of Geno Smith is being counted on to be a major contributor to the 2013 Crimson Tide.
His arrest could have a major impact on Alabama's quest to three-peat.