August brings real, live college football, and along with it the eager anticipation of … well, real, live college football. Much like one might tune into an awful Christmas movie in early December — because, hey, ’tis the season — early August is prime-time for overselling the significance of otherwise worthless information.
And the Amway Coaches Poll is indeed worthless. I wrote as much four years ago, noting the then-new sponsorship tied to the ranking was way too on-the-nose.
The more meaningful preseason poll is the Associated Press Top 25, which drops some time in the next few weeks. The AP Poll at least has the ability to split a national championship; though the voters who failed to do so for Utah in 2008 and UCF last season are cowards who should feel shame every day of their lives.
*clears throat* Apologies for the outburst.
Anyway, the Coaches Poll means as much in the grand scheme as my Emoji Top 25 on Twitter. Coincidentally, the two align somewhat reasonably, so I have very few nits to pick on the Coaches Poll.
4. 🍻 🧀
8. 🐯 🦅
23. 🐔 ⚫️🔴
— Kyle Kensing (@kensing45) June 24, 2018
I’m curious when most ballots were submitted. The uncertainty around Ohio State, with Urban Meyer placed on administrative leave yesterday, has me less sure of the Buckeyes as Playoff contenders, and I already had them just outside of the top four at No. 5.
My inclusions omitted from the Coaches Poll are NC State, peculiarly bumped for divisional foe Florida State (which is all the way at No. 19!); Iowa State, with Big 12 counterpart Oklahoma State instead landing that No. 25 spot; South Carolina, with sports information directors ERRRRRR coaches instead putting their faith in Ed Orgeron at LSU; and USF. The Coaches Poll instead ranks Mississippi State, though I will readily admit USF is my longest reach. Phil Steele tabs the Bulls to finish third in their division in the post-Quinton Flowers era.
The poll continues to reflect the glass ceiling separating Group of Five and Power Five, with UCF dropped to No. 23. The Knights ranked seventh in the final Coaches Poll of the 2017 season. Odds-on favorite to win the Group of Five automatic berth into the New Year’s Six, Boise State, checks in at No. 22. That’s nine places below where I have the Broncos ranked.
This is to be expected, unfortunately, so I’m not exactly treading on new ground with this observation. The more interesting conversations to be had about the Coaches Poll come from the Others Receiving Votes.
Florida Atlantic received a rather impressive (for a Conference USA team) 27 votes, essentially ranking the Owls No. 33 ahead of their Week 1 matchup with No. 5 Oklahoma. #LaneKiffinEffect. Three different Sun Belt Conference teams also earned a decent chunk of votes, with defending co-champions Arkansas State and Troy each at 19, and Appalachian State right behind with 16.
Boston College’s in the mix, ostensibly ranked 34th. I am willing to stake claim here that the Eagles creep into the Top 25 at some point in the 2018 season.
Despite its dismal bowl season, the smattering of Pac-12 programs receiving votes, in addition to the ranked trio of Washington, Stanford and USC, suggests the bleak conversation lingering over the conference through the offseason may not be that difficult to change. Voters love them some Oregon, evident in the perhaps hasty rush to bolster them after drubbing a bad Nebraska team for one half last September, but the ORV to watch is Utah.
Utah’s my pick to win a wide-open Pac-12 South, though fellow ORV Arizona is an intriguing dark horse behind Heisman hopeful Khalil Tate.