In early August, several preseason college football rankings are released to the public, but one of the most well-known and respected is the USA Today College Football Coaches Poll which was posted earlier today. The Coaches Poll is an interesting marker of what folks across the college football landscape see how things will shake out this fall.
There are a few teams with curious placement in the poll and a few left out– per usual– which are worth some discussion and consideration. Given that, however, we all know that preseason polls are great conversation starters, and fill in the last gap before fall practice gets underway, but are rarely any true predictor of how things will shake out by the time December rolls around.
* It’s no surprise the Alabama Crimson Tide top the poll, with 58 first-place votes being granted them by voters. I’m not sure the Tide are that much more dominant that the teams coming in at No. 2 and No. 3 respectively, the Ohio State Buckeyes and Oregon Ducks, but apparently the coaching community across Division I believes they are.
* The Clemson Tigers, yet again, are ranked in the Top 10, coming in at No.8. This seems to happen without fail every single preseason and the Tigers fail to live up to the expectations that precede them. Will this be the year that Tajh Boyd and the Tigers can finally break through their own glass ceiling and become one of the nation’s elite teams? I wouldn’t put much money on it. Let’s put it that way.
* It appears the Louisville Cardinals may have earned the respect they have been trying to earn for sometime now, entering in USAT’s poll at No.9. Teddy Bridgewater is one of the nation’s best quarterbacks with a legitimate chance at winning the Heisman Trophy and has a wide receiving corps lining up next to him that’s as talented as they come. An undefeated season is well within reach for Charlie Strong‘s squad, and a BCS berth at a minimum is imminent.
* There’s a giant Big 12 Conference jumble in the middle of the pack with the Oklahoma State Cowboys, Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners with 12 losses between them in 2012. I think anyone would be hard-pressed to expect there to be 12 losses between three teams of this caliber again, but if there was ever a season where it could happen, it would be 2013. The conference is as wide-open as it has been in years with many new quarterbacks under center and unproven players being depended upon across the landscape.
* It’s interesting programs like the Arkansas Razorbacks and Texas Tech Red Raiders who have been highly competitive in recent history didn’t receive any votes at all from coaches for Top 25 slots, while programs like San Jose State and Fresno State did. The Aztecs and Bulldogs have two marquee, NFL-caliber quarterbacks in David Fales and Derek Carr, so given this, some infatuation is understandable, but the overall talent level on either team certainly isn’t what Kliff Kingsbury or Bret Bielema has to work with in their programs.
Like any preseason poll, the USAT Coaches Poll is just an indicator of sentiment and nothing more. Nonetheless, it’s a great start to the discussion of what should be a fascinating 2013 season.