This offseason, Nick Saban and his staff added some minor decorations to the Alabama weight room.
Maroon and white towels hang from various workout machines, sporting the Texas A&M logo. Looped highlights run on the high-definition televisions overhead, showing Johnny Manziel running through the Crimson Tide, Oklahoma and others on his way to the Heisman trophy.
It's hard to beat Saban. But it's even harder for him to forget about those defeats.
So you can bet come Sept. 14 in College Station — in what many are billing the game of the season, pending Manziel's eligibility — Saban's squad will be amped up, out for revenge in a rematch with the Aggies.
But in reality, it remains the other way around. Alabama is not the hunter but the hunted.
The SEC, as a whole, may be running an extended monopoly on college football. But Alabama is running a more recent monopoly on the SEC.
Three national titles and two conference belts the last four years. A combined 35-5 SEC record since 2008. A 16-2 mark the past two seasons, outscoring conference opponents by more than 24 points per game.
And there's no reason to think it's going to stop.
Not with another defense loaded with NFL talent (what else is new?) and plenty of experienced offensive weapons, like thousand-yard rusher T.J. Yeldon and 1,000-yard receiver Amari Cooper, surrounding two-time national champion quarterback A.J. McCarron (three if you count his redshirt year).
“Since I'll be around for four more football seasons,” Barack Obama said during Alabama's recent visit to the White House, “I expect I just might see these guys again before I leave.”
The President is not alone with that pick. It's a near consensus, with the Tide entering 2013 as the undisputed No. 1 team in the nation.
But SEC challengers are aplenty, with six of the country's top 13 ranked teams coming from the conference.