The preseason Coaches Poll is coming at noon ET today, another mile marker on the road to actual football. The two “classic” college football polls — Coaches, AP — have been marginalized somewhat over the past few decades, however.
Where these polls once helped us determine a national champion, now they’re just what gets us from August to October when the trump card of the CFP rankings arrive. (And before that it was the BCS.) Even that role erodes a little bit each year with so many additional options out there. ESPN released its first 2017 preseason ranking in the hours after the 2016 national championship game was over and it has used that “way too early” top 25 to drive its content throughout the offseason. And that’s just the most notable example. Everyone has a top 25 (or a top 129) these days, including, if you picked up a copy of the 2017 yearbook, Hail Varsity.
So do we need the Coaches Poll? No, but I’ll be at least a little excited to see it just for tradition’s sake. While it has come more in line with the AP poll in recent years, the Coaches Poll always had a reputation as being something of a wild card. For one, nobody ever totally bought the idea that coaches, who were already working endless hours during the football season, were spending that much time on their weekly rankings (and that was if you assumed the coaches did their own rankings at all). The potential for bias was high. Want to throw that former assistant of yours a courtesy vote at No. 25? Nobody will stop you.
In theory the Coaches Poll should be the best poll. Who knows the game better? In practice, coaches have to coach and that makes it tough to also be a pollster.
Nebraska won’t be in the Coaches Poll. I’m guessing the Big Ten will get four teams in — Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin and Michigan — with Northwestern knocking on the door. I’ll be shocked if the top three isn’t Alabama, Ohio State and Florida State, in that order, but filling out a top five could get interesting. Washington, given what it achieved last year and what it returns, might sneak in at No. 4. Oklahoma, Penn State, Clemson and USC are probably all candidates for the top five as well.
The top 25 that you see in the Hail Varsity Yearbook is a composite of our individual staff votes, but if you’re curious here is the top 25 I submitted (which I approach as a power ranking):
2. Ohio State
3. Florida State
11. Penn State
12. Oklahoma State
20. Notre Dame
22. Virginia Tech
23. Boise State
24. Washington State
Tension at 40,000 Feet
This is a thing that defensive coordinator Bob Diaco said after Tuesday’s practice:
“We don’t fly at 40,000 feet, we’re not a big-picture group,” Diaco said. “There’s a great buy in from everyone in the organization, on the team and in the unit.”
Pretty good Diaco-ism. He’s going to have a bunch of them this season.
This is a thing safeties coach Scott Booker, who is also sort of the point man for special teams, said to Steve Sipple of the Lincoln Journal Star about how the Huskers are handling special teams this season:
“I think I give the 40,000-foot view of everything,” he said.
Inter-office drama! Crossed signals! Booker is flying too close to the sun! Literally in this case!
I don’t actually believe any of those things, of course. But I was sort of amused that two different coaches talking about two different phases of the game both landed at “40,000 feet.” One said the Huskers weren’t there and implied it’s a bad place to be. Another said he’s there.
The Huskers might have an altitude problem. Merits watching.
The Grab Bag
- Is Michigan one of college football’s biggest mysteries in 2017?
- Texas has asked reporters not to tweet during interviews. As a media member I am probably supposed to be outraged by this, but I actually think it’s fine.
- Heather Dinich of ESPN looks at the changes the College Football Playoff has already brought to the game.
- ICYMI: Recruiting analyst Greg Smith looks at Nebraska’s recruiting on the defensive line and how the switch to a 3-4 has changed things on that front. (Premium)
Today’s Song of Today