Legends weigh in on preseason poll
By David Purdum, david_purdum
Since 2000, nearly 40 percent of teams that began the year ranked in the preseason Coaches’ Poll did not end the season ranked in the final Coaches’ Poll. You know, the one that matters.
On average, that’s nearly 10 teams per season that in August are considered among the nation’s best, but are nowhere to be found in January.
“[Preseason rankings] have one real value — it gets us all talking about it,” said College Football Hall of Famer John Robinson, one of 19 members of the Legends Poll. “But I don’t think anybody who votes on it does enough research to say specifically who is going to do what.”
That’s not a knock on the 59 head coaches who vote. Considering the limited information available at this time of year, hitting 60 percent isn’t bad. Basically, preseason magazines and last year’s memories are all the coaches have to analyze.
“You get a summer magazine, but you don’t devour it,” said former Washington coach Don James. “You focus on what is being written about your opponents. Outside of them, it’s hard to know a lot about the other teams across the country.”
Nevertheless, the USA Today Preseason Coaches’ Poll was released Friday, even though more than half of the FBS programs had not yet held their first practice. But, like Robinson said, it gets people talking.
Defending champion Alabama is the overwhelming pick at No. 1. The Crimson Tide received 55 of 59 possible votes, despite having just two returning starters on defense.
Ohio State, Florida, Texas and Boise State round out the Top 5. Those five teams also finished last season in the Top 5.
Alabama and Florida were the only two SEC teams in the top 15, but a total of six made the poll.
“That seems about right,” said former UGA head coach Vince Dooley, whose Bulldogs squeaked in at No. 21. “With 10 returning starters on offense, and two of the best kickers in the nation, I think you could make a case for [UGA] being like 13 or 14.”
The ACC landed five teams in the poll, with No. 6 Virginia Tech leading the way. The Hokies open the season against No. 5 Boise State on Labor Day at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland.
The Big Ten placed four teams, highlighted by the second-ranked Buckeyes and No. 10 Iowa. Wisconsin is No. 12 and Penn State No. 14.
“Right now, those are probably the top teams in the conference,” said former Indiana coach Bill Mallory. “And, of course, everyone wants to see what Michigan is going to do.”
Rich Rodriguez’s Wolverines weren’t among those receiving votes.
The Big 12 was next with three teams, all in the Top 10.
“That says a lot about the strength of that league. (No. 4) Texas, (No. 8) Oklahoma and (No. 9) Nebraska are powerful teams,” former Texas A&M coach R.C. Slocum said.
The Pac-10, Mountain West and Big East each had two representatives in the opening poll.
USA Today Top 25 Coaches’ Poll: Preseason
1. Alabama (55)
2. Ohio State (4)
5. Boise State
6. Virginia Tech
13. Miami (Fla.)
14. Penn State
17. Georgia Tech
18. North Carolina
20. Florida State
22. Oregon State
t-24. West Virginia