Many people don’t pay attention to preseason polls, considering them useless until real football has been played on the field. We’ll hazard a guess that those naysayers may be from conferences other than the SEC. To paraphrase Coach Bear Bryant, “What the heck’s the matter with you people? Don't y'all take your football seriously?” Here in the warm, friendly South, we enjoy seeing our teams dominating the polls like they whoop up on opposing teams on the gridiron.
So without further ado … oh wait, a little ado. Just a humble reminder why SEC teams are the best of friends with preseason polls: the SEC is undefeated in national championship games in the modern BCS era (7-0), and five different SEC teams have won the last five national titles.
Joe DiMaggio's hitting streak is a record that may never be broken.
[The SEC's five straight national championships] is in that same category.
– Mike Slive, SEC Commissioner
The SEC finished 2010 with ONE-HALF its 12 teams in the final Top 25 of both the Coaches Poll and AP Poll. Seven SEC teams go into the 2011 season ranked in the consensus preseason polls; eight SEC teams are ranked in the preseason Coaches Poll and AP Poll.
Now back to our regularly scheduled excuses from naysayers. How accurate are preseason polls, anyway? Phil Steele was the most accurate preseason predictions 2000-2009 -- usually naming the right teams if not always in the correct order -- and is here used as the measuring stick against the Coaches Poll and AP Poll. For a complete preseason rankings comparison see College Football Poll, or for the just the major polls see ESPN.
Phil Steele’s Top 25 preseason poll gives great details on each team with a two-page in-depth breakdown of projected starters, schedule, stats and recent history. However, Steele’s poll is published in June and is not as up-to-date on recent transfers, injuries, etc. (he does update players lost on his website). (Click on Phil Steele team names below to review the 2-page PDF on each team.)
The Coaches Poll counts as one-third of the final BCS standings (an explanation is here), so its preseason Top 25 lays the framework for the entire season. The football rankings are compiled by the USA TODAY Board of Coaches made up of 59 head coaches at Division I FBS institutions. All coaches are members of the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA).
The Associated Press (AP) Top 25 Poll rankings are compiled by polling 60 sportswriters (older version here) across the nation. Each first place vote is given 25 points, each second place vote 24 points, down to 1 point for a 25th place vote. Ballots of the voting members in the AP Poll are made public. The AP Poll is no longer used in calculating BCS standings.
Phil Steele Top 25
Coaches Poll Top 25
AP Top 25
|1. Alabama||1. Oklahoma||1. Oklahoma|
|2. Oklahoma||2. Alabama||2. Alabama|
|3. Boise State||3. Oregon||3. Oregon|
|4. Oregon||4. LSU||4. LSU|
|5. Virginia Tech||5. Florida State||5. Boise State|
|6. Notre Dame||6. Stanford||6. Florida State|
|7. LSU||7. Boise State||7. Stanford|
|8. Texas A&M||8. Oklahoma State||8. Texas A&M|
|9. Georgia||9. Texas A&M||9. Oklahoma State|
|10. Florida State||10. Wisconsin||10. Nebraska|
|11. TCU||11. Nebraska||11. Wisconsin|
|12. Nebraska||12. South Carolina||12. South Carolina|
|13. Arkansas||13. Virginia Tech||13. Virginia Tech|
|14. South Carolina||14. Arkansas||14. TCU|
|15. Ohio State||15. TCU||15. Arkansas|
|16. Stanford||16. Ohio State||16. Notre Dame|
|17. USC||17. Michigan State||17. Michigan State|
|18. Texas||18. Notre Dame||18. Ohio State|
|19. Oklahoma State||19. Auburn||19. Georgia|
|20. Southern Miss||20. Mississippi State||20. Mississippi State|
|21. Houston||21. Missouri||21. Missouri|
|22. Arizona State||22. Georgia||22. Florida|
|23. Wisconsin||23. Florida||23. Auburn|
|24. Penn State||24. Texas||24. West Virginia|
|25. USF||25. Penn State||25. USC|
Auburn, Florida, Michigan State, Mississippi State, and Missouri are the teams included in the Coaches Poll and AP, and missing from Phil Steele’s Top 25.
USC is serving an NCAA bowl ban and is not eligible to receive votes in the Coaches Poll.
Arizona State, Houston, Southern Miss, USF are the teams included in Steele’s list and not included in the Top 25 of the Coaches Poll. However, Arizona State did receive enough votes to be ranked #26, Houston would be #37, USF would be #38, and Southern Miss would be #42.
West Virginia is included in the AP Poll and not included in Phil Steele’s list or the Coaches Poll. Similar to the Coaches Poll, Arizona State, Houston, Southern Miss and USF are included in Phil Steele but not included in the AP Poll. Arizona State received enough votes to be ranked #28, Southern Miss #31 and Houston #36. Penn State is included in both the Coaches Poll and Phil Steele but missing from the AP Poll, although it received enough votes to be ranked #27.
For those truly interested in preseason polls, a new surfeit of information can be found in Phil Steele’s newest AP Top 10 Projection Results. And for us SEC diehards, a visual reminder why our fanbases are so excited every year when September finally arrives.
Let the real poll mania begin. Only two weekends until football! S-E-C!
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