How should preseason polls be judged?
Should the defending champ be judged differently?
Should teams have to earn there way back up the Top 25 ladder, after a poor season(s)?
Should the preseason rankings be based on today or how the season should finish in January?
Are there 10 teams worthy of a spot in the Top 10 heading into 2012? Over the past couple of seasons, we would say "no" and this season actually doesn't look any different. Hard to say any Big Ten team is worthy of a Top 10 ranking, with the questions each program has heading into the 2012 season.
Early ratings are often premature, just look at preseason rankings, since 1989. There are plenty of programs who are often overrated or underrated year in and year out. Top Five typically over hyped annually heading into the College Football Season:
Notre Dame - No different this year, with the coaches ranking the Irish #24 coming off 8-5 year?
Oklahoma - Bob Stoops is 108-27 the past 10 seasons, but hasn't won a BCS title, since '00!
Texas - Both preseason polls have Longhorns #15, despite 8-5 and 5-7 in '11 and '10... #19 is too high!
Florida State - What has the ACC done lately? Seminoles were 9-4 last year, but '05 since last BCS bowl!
Nebraska - The Cornhuskers finished 5-3 in Big Ten Legends division and 9-4 overall and now 11 years, since they played in a BCS bowl...
Typically, preseason polls like named BCS teams year in and year out. No different in 2012...
So, who should be #1 heading into the 2012 College Football season?
1. Alabama (12-1, 7-1 SEC West) - The Crimson Tide have won two of the past three BCS titles under coach Nick Saban entering his sixth season in Tuscaloosa. Junior QB AJ McCarron is back, with five other offensive starters and what should be the nation's Top OL. Only five defensive starters return with all-American skills from last year's national title team, but both specialists are back for the Tide! Season Opener: vs. Michigan on 9/1 in Arlington, TX.
The SEC rules the BCS, with six straight titles ...
2. LSU (13-1, 8-0 SEC West) - The Tigers are the last team to beat Alabama (9-6 ot '11 regular season). The Tigers are the defending SEC champions, but lost the BCS Title game 0-21 to Bama. Junior JC transfer Zach Mettenberger steps into the QB position, which is one reason the Tigers haven't won a BCS title, since '07. Both kickers are back along with seven offensive and six defensive, as Les Miles enters his eighth season at the helm in Baton Rouge. Biggest non-conferece tilt: vs. Washington on 9/8.
3. Oregon (12-2, 8-1 Pac12 North) - The Ducks are playing for their fourth straight conference title in '12. The Ducks are also coming off a Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin. They lost 19-22 to Auburn, the previous year in the BCS title game, so there is plenty of excitement for '12. Coach Chip Kelly is entering his fourth season in Eugene, with likely redshirt frosh Marcus Mariota at the helm at QB and senior Kenjon Barner back at RB. Both kickers are back, with five offensive and defensive starters returning. Key game: @ USC on 11/3.
4. USC (10-2, 7-2 Pac12 South) - The Trojans are coming off NCAA bowl sactions, as coach Lane Kiffin enters third season as head coach in Los Angeles. The Trojans still face scholarship sactions and depth is a concern heading into 2012. Senior QB Matt Barkley returns with eight other starters on offense, including the top 3 receivers. The Trojans defense returns seven starters and both kickers. The Trojans have won four straight bowls, since the BCS title game loss to Texas during '04 season. Conference opener: @ Stanford on 9/15.
5. Arkansas (11-2, 6-2 SEC West) - The off the field dismissal in Fayetteville of coach Bobby Petrino may make this pick a little high? But, senior QB Tyler Wilson returns along with six other offensive starters. The defense returns six starters from a squad that beat Kansas State 29-16 in the Cotton. Both kickers also return for the Razorbacks. Interim coach John L. Smith was only 1-6 in previous bowl games. Key game: vs. Alabama on 9/15 in SEC opener.
6. Oklahoma State (12-1, 8-1 Big 12) - The Sooners are the defending Big 12 champ, coming off a 41-38 ot win over Stanford in the Fiesta; beat Oklahoma 44-10 in the season finale. A true frosh Wes Lunt is projected as #1 QB. Senior PK/P Quinn Sharp returns along with four offensive and eight defensive starters as coach Mike Gundy enters eighth season at the helm in Stillwater. Key OOC game: @ Arizona on 9/8.
7. Oklahoma (10-3, 6-3 Big 12) - Bob Stoops is entering his 14th season at the helm in Norman. The Sooners are coming off a 31-14 win over Stoops' alma mater, Iowa in the Insight. Senior QB Landry Jones is one of eight offensive starters back, along with both kickers and seven defensive starters. Injuries have been an issue for the Sooners over the last several seasons. Odd start the season with two bye weeks in September and the season opener @ UTEP. Big 12 opener: vs. K-State on 9/22.
8. South Carolina (11-2, 6-2 SEC East) - The Gamecocks enter 2012 with coach Steve Spurrier opening his eighth season in Columbia. Injury to junior RB Marcus Lattimore cut short a solid season. In '10, the Gamecokes won the SEC East for the first time, but lost the SEC championship to BCS champion Auburn. Junior QB Connor Shaw returns with five other offensive starters and five defensivie starters from the 30-13 win over Nebraska in the Capitial One game. Season/SEC opener: @ Vanderbilt on 8/30.
9. Stanford (11-2, 8-1 Pac12 North) - The Cardinal enter the second season in Stanford with coach David Shaw at the helm. The Cardinal must replace QB Andrew Luck and junior Josh Nunes will get the nod. He will have six offensive starters back, along with their placekicker and seven Cardinal back as starters on defense. Key Pac 12 division game: @ Oregon on 11/17.
10. West Virginia (10-3, 5-2 Big East) - Good bye Big East, hello Big 12, as the Mountaineers enter the 2nd season under coach Dana Holgorsen at the helm in Morgantown. The Mountaineers are coming off a 70-33 Orange Bowl win over Clemson as they move West to the Big 12. Senior QB Geno Smith returns along with seven other starters on offense, both kickers are back, along with six defensive starters. Key back to back Big 12 road trips: @ Texas on 10/6, then @ Texas Tech on 10/13.
Big Ten teams may develop into a Top 10 program in 2012, but at the present time, we don't see one worthy of Top 10 as the season kicks off in the coming week ...
11. Wisconsin (11-3, 6-2 Big Ten Leaders) - The Badgers have won back to back conference titles, including the first title game under coach Bret Bielema, now in his 7th year as head coach in Madison. Bielema is bringing in another ringer at QB, this time with junior Danny O'Brien from Maryland, after Russell Wilson departed for the NFL. Only five starters are back on offensive, while six starters are back defensively. The specialists will be new in '12. Key game: @ Nebrasaka on 9/29 in Big Ten opener.
12. Michigan State (11-3, 7-1 Big Ten Legends) - The Spartans are coming off a 33-30 3ot win in Outback over Georgia, as MSU finally gets a win in a bowl game for the first time, since '01. Coach Mark Dantonio returns eight starters on defense and both kickers, but only five return on offense and junior Andrew Maxwell will be the new QB. Season opener: vs. Boise State on 8/31.
13. Michigan (11-2, 6-2 Big Ten Legends) - Can 2nd year coach Brady Hoke in Ann Arbor do what Bob Stoops at OU or Gene Chizik at Auburn did in year two at there schools? Each lead there respectives teams into the BCS title game in their second season. The Wolverines were down prior to Hoke's arrival for three years. The Wolverines are coming off a 23-20 overtime win over Virginia Tech the Sugar. They are lead by senior QB Denard Robinson, five other offensive starters, seven defensive starters and both kickers are back. Key game: @ Ohio State on 11/24.
14. Georgia (10-4, 7-1 SEC East) - Both the Coaches and AP Poll rank the Bulldogs #6 coming off a 30-33 3OT loss to Michigan State in the Outback. The Bulldogs do return starting QB Aaron Murray and six other offensive starters. They will break in new kickers and nine defensive starters are back, but the Bulldogs appear to be a perfect example of a program that needs to earn a Top 10 ranking. SEC opener: @ Missouri on 9/8.
15. Florida State (9-4, 4-4 ACC Atlantic) - The Seminoles are lead by senior QB EJ Manuel and seven other offensive starters and placekicker. The defense returns nine starters from the 18-14 win in the Champs Sports over Notre Dame. Coach Jimbo Fisher begins third season at the helm in Tallahassee. The Seminole open '12 with back to back FCS games. Top OOC game in September: @USF on 9/29.
16. TCU (11-2, 7-0 MWC) - The Horned Frogs leave the MWC for the Big 12 as coach Gary Patterson enters his 12th season in Ft. Worth. Senior QB Casey Pachall leads five other returning starters on offense. Five defensive starters return from the team that beat Lousiana Tech 31-24 in the Poinsettia to win for their 7th bowl win in eight outings. Season finale: vs. Oklahoma on 12/1.
17. Boise State (12-1, 6-1 MWC) - The Broncos enter the seventh season under Chris Peterson in Boise with a rebuilding effort in the works, with only five starters on offense and 2 starters on defense returning from the squad that won 56-24 over Arizona State in Las Vegas to end '11. Junior Joe Southwick will step into the void at QB, with Kellen Moore's departure.
18. Virginia Tech (11-3, 7-1 ACC Coastal) - The Hokies open the 26th season under coach Frank Beamer in Blacksburg in 2012. Junior QB Logan Thomas highlights the three starters back on offense, but nine defensive starters are back, along with both kickers. The Hokies have played in four BCS bowls the past five seasons. Season Opener: vs. Georgia Tech in ACC opener on Labor Day 9/3.
19. Texas (8-5, 4-5 Big 12) - The Longhorns enter the 15th season under coach Mack Brown in Austin. After a BCS title game in '09, the Longhorns fell to 2-6 in the Big 12 in '10, but rebounded last year, with a nice 21-10 win over California in the Holiday. The QB position needs to have better production, as sophomore David Ash returns, along with eight other offensive starters. Six starters are back on defense, with newcomers on special teams. The Red River Shoutout on 10/13 is game 3 of the Big 12 season. Key game: @ Okie State on 9/29 in Big 12 opener.
20. Houston (13-1, 8-0 CUSA West) - The Cougars came up short in the CUSA title game, but rebounded with a 30-14 win over Penn State in the TicketCity. Tony Levine took the one game interim tag into the bowl game and landed the job as the new coach at Houston replacing Kevin Sumlin, who moved to Texas A&M. Only five starters return on offense, while seven starters are back on defense, along with both kickers. Sophomore QB David Piland redshirted last season, but he filled in as a starter for injured and now departed Case Keenum for 8 starts in '10 as a true frosh. Key OOC game: @ UCLA on 9/15.
21. Clemson (10-4, 6-2 ACC Atlantic) - Coach Dabo Swinney enters his fifth season in Clemson. Seven offensive starters return, including junior QB Tajh Boyd, seven starters are back on defense, along with the #1 placekicker. The Tigers are the defending ACC champions, but must rebound from a 33-70 loss in the Orange to West Virginia. Open season in Atlanta vs. Auburn on 9/1. Key game: @ Florida State on 9/22 for ACC opener.
22. Florida (7-6, 3-5 SEC East) - Coach Will Muschamp enters year 2 at helm in Gainsville. The Gators return seven offensive starters, 10 defensive starters and both kickers off of 24-17 Gator win over Ohio State. The QB position needs better production. Key back to back SEC road games: week 2 @ Texas A&M on 9/8 and week 3 @ Tennessee on 9/15.
23. Missouri (8-5, 5-4 Big 12) - The Tigers move from the Big 12 to the SEC East in 2012, as coach Gary Pinkel opens his 12th season in Columbia. The Tigers are coming off a 41-24 win over North Carolina in the Independence. Junior QB James Franklin lead six starters back on offense, while six defensive starters return and senior Trey Barrow takes over PK duties for '12. The Tigers will play a strong OOC schedule with a trip @ Central Florida on 9/29 and two other BCS conference opponents. Key game: @ South Carolina on 9/22.
24. Nebraska (9-4, 5-3 Big Ten Legends) - The Cornhuskers finished year one in the Big Ten with a winning record, but it has been over ten seasons now, since Nebraska played in a BCS bowl game. The Cornhuskers closed '11 with a 13-30 loss to South Carolina in the Capital One. Junior QB Taylor Martinez and senior RB Rex Burkhead lead the seven starters back on offense. Senior PK/Punter Brett Maher returns, along with seven defensive starters for '12. Season opener: vs. Southern Miss on 9/1.
25. Kansas State (10-3, 7-2 Big 12) - Though he took some time away from the head coaching position, Bill Snyder enters his 21st season at the helm in Manhattan. The Wildcats have enjoyed back to back bowl games over the past two seasons, but still looking for first win, since '02 Holiday ten seasons ago. Senior QB Collin Klien leads eight starters back on offense, while both kickers return, along with six starters on defense lead by senior MLB Arthur Brown. Key OOC game: vs. Miami-FL on 9/8.
Out of the polls (finished last season in the final AP/Coaches Poll):
13/12. Baylor (10-3, 6-3 Big 12) - Coach Art Briles enters fifth season at the helm in Waco, without QB Robert Griffin III, as the Heisman Trophy winner moves onto the NFL. The Bears have enjoyed back to back bowl seasons, including a 67-56 win over Washington last year in Alamo. Senior Nick Florence brings some experience to the table at QB, as six starters return on offense, both kickers and eight starters on defense return for the Bears. Season opener: vs. SMU on 9/2.
20/19. Southern Miss (12-2, 6-2 CUSA East) - The Golden Eagles are the defending champions of the C-USA heading into 2012 and are coming off a 24-17 win over Nevada in Hawaii. Former South Carolina DC Ellis Johnson replaces Larry Fedora in Hattiesburg, as Fedora exited after four seasons, taking the job at UNC. Junior Chris Campbell is projected by many at QB, but has lost practice time this preseason. Six starters on offense, a punter and four defensive starters return from last year. Key game: @ UCF on 10/13.
25/21. Cinicinnati (10-3, 5-2 Big East) - Can the Bearcats fill the void of Big East champion West Virginia exit to Big 12? Only four starters return on offense, while both kickers and seven starters return for Cincinnati, as coach Butch Jones enters third season at the helm. The Bearcats are coming off a 31-24 win over Vanderbilt in the Liberty. Season opener: week 2 vs. Pittsburgh on Thusday 9/6.
Not ranked (though ranked in the preseason AP/Coaches Poll):
18/NR Ohio State (6-7, 3-5 Big Ten Leaders) - The Buckeyes may be the best team in the Big Ten this season under first year coach Urban Meyer. NCAA probation will leave the Buckeyes in Columbus for the Holidays this season. Sophomore QB Braxton Miller highlights the six starters back on offense. Nine defensive starters are back, along with both kickers. The Buckeyes are in Columbus for four straight OOC games to open season, then Big Ten opener @ MSU on 9/29. Key game: @ Wisconsin on 11/17.
25/NR Auburn (8-5, 4-4 SEC West) - Coach Gene Chizik enters fourth season at the helm in Auburn. The Tigers won the BCS in '10 and have three bowl wins under Chizik, including a 43-24 win over Virginia last year in the Chick-fil-A. The Tigers return six offensive starters, both kickers and nine defensive starters in '12. Sophomore QB Kiehl Frazier brings speed to the position, but questions remain. Key game: vs. LSU on 9/22.
NR/24. Notre Dame (8-5 as Independent) - Coach Brian Kelly enters his third season at the helm in South Bend with a bowl win in '10 over Miami-FL and a bowl loss in '11 vs. Florida State. The Fighting Irish return eight starters on offense, punter and six starters on defense. The 2012 season opens in Dublin, Ireland on 9/1 as the Fighting Irish open vs. Navy as redshirt freshman Everett Golson is named starting QB. Key game: @ Oklahoma on 10/27.
NR/25. Louisville (7-6, 5-2 Big East) - Coach Charlie Strong enters his third season at the helm in Lousiville coming off a 24-31 loss vs. North Carolina State in the Belk. Sophomore QB Teddy Bridgewater is among the seven offensive starters back, with eight returning on the defensive side of the ball for the Cardinals. Season opener: vs. Kentucky on 9/2.
Division and Conference Power Ratings:
The SEC is the #1 conference again!
SEC West: 1. Alabama, 2. LSU, 3. Arkansas, 4. newcomer Texas A&M, 5. Auburn, 6. Mississippi State, 7. Ole Miss.
SEC East: 1. South Carolina, 2. Georgia, 3. Florida, 4. newcomer Missouri, 5. Tennessee, 6. Vanderbilt, 7. Kentucky
Big Ten Leaders: 1. Ohio State (probation), 2. Wisconsin, 3. Purdue, 4. Illinois, 5. Penn State (probation), 6. Indiana.
Big Ten Legends: 1. Michigan State, 2. Michigan, 3. Nebraska, 4. Iowa, 5. Northwestern, 6. Minnesota.
Big 12: 1. Oklahoma State, 2. Oklahoma, 3. West Virginia, 4. TCU, 5. Texas, 6. Kansas State, 7. Baylor, 8. Texas Tech 9. Iowa State, 10. Kansas.
Pac 12 North: 1. Oregon, 2. Stanford, 3. California, 4. Washington, 5. Oregon State, 6. Washington State.
Pac 12 South: 1. USC, 2. Utah, 3. UCLA, 4. Arizona State, 5. Arizona, 6. Colorado.
ACC Atlantic: 1. Florida State, 2. Clemson, 3. North Carolina State, 4. Boston College, 5. Wake Forest, 6. Maryland.
ACC Coastal: 1. Virginia Tech, 2. Georgia Tech, 3. North Carolina, 4. Miami-FL, 5. Virginia, 6. Duke.
Big East: 1. Cincinnati, 2. Rutgers, 3. Louisville, 4. South Florida, 5. Pittsburgh, 6. Temple, 7. UConn, 8. Syracuse.
MWC: 1. Boise State, 2. Nevada, 3. San Diego State, 4. Air Force, 5. Wyuoming, 6. Fresno State, 7. Hawaii, 8. Colorado State, 9. UNLV, 10. New Mexico.
C-USA East: 1. Southern Miss, 2. UCF, 3. Marshall, 4. East Carolina, 5. UAB, 6. Memphis.
C-USA West: 1. Houston, 2. Tulsa, 3. SMU, 4. UTEP, 5. Rice, 6. Tulane.
Independents: 1. Notre Dame, 2. BYU, 3. Navy, 4. Army.
MAC East: 1. Ohio U., 2. Miami-OH, 3. Bowling Green, 4. Kent State, 5. Buffalo, 6. Massachusetts, 7. Akron.
MAC West: 1. Northern Illinois, 2. Toledo, 3. Western Michigan, 4. Ball State, 5. Eastern Michigan, 6. Central Michigan.
WAC: 1. Louisiana Tech, 2. Utah State, 3. San Jose State, 4. Idaho, 5. New Mexico State, 6. UT-San Antonio, 7. Texas State.
Sun Belt: 1. Arkansas State, 2. FIU, 3. Lousiana-Lafayette, 4. Western Kentucky, 5. Louisina-Monroe, 6. North Texas, 7. Troy, 8. Middle Tennessee, 9. South Alabama.
Let the Games of 2012 begin!