August has arrived, so BlogPoll time approaches. I have tried piecing together a draft of my top 25, but, honestly, it just looks like a random collection of college football teams with which I am familiar.
While I believe Boise State will meet or exceed expectations this year, I’m not sure I’m ready to pull the trigger on anointing the Broncos as my preseason No. 1 (even though BSU might make the leap to the top spot with a win over VPI on Labor Day weekend). I’m actually considering ranking the Florida Gators No. 1 because they lose less on defense than an Alabama squad that likely will drop back to the pack slightly---emphasis on the slightly; I think we’re talking 10-2 or 11-1 instead of 12-0---in a league in which defense wins championships and offense is a rumor. (Also, I may have other motives, as well. Mock our orientation videos, will you?)
I’m having a much easier time coming up with reasons to downgrade or omit teams than I am concocting explanations for why I should elevate a squad in the rankings. Since I recognize that my ingrained pessimism has caused me to view every glass as half-empty (at least), however, I wanted to throw a few teams out there to see if any of them stuck. Let me know whether (and, if so, why) any of these teams deserves to be ranked:
Florida St. Seminoles: FSU routinely garners votes in preseason polls and is projected to finish high in the ACC based primarily upon recruiting rankings and the muscle memory of an electorate that remembers when the ‘Noles were good . . . but that run ended when the 20th century did. For all the talent that has been stockpiled in Tallahassee over the years, Florida State is a middle-of-the-pack program entering the inaugural autumn of the stewardship of a former Seminole offensive coordinator who might turn out to be the second coming of Mark Richt but might also turn out to be the second coming of Brad Scott. What reason should I have for believing in FSU before the Tribe proves it on the field? Don’t we only need to be burned five or six times in a row before learning the flaming spear is hot but the team is not?
Georgia Bulldogs: Now that Logan Gray officially has made the move to receiver, there is no quarterback on the Red and Black roster who has ever taken a snap in a college game. Todd Grantham’s untested defensive overhaul will have to work out the inevitable kinks against two of the SEC’s top returning signal callers in Stephen Garcia and Ryan Mallett. South Carolina, Arkansas, and Auburn---three teams the Bulldogs beat in shootouts last year---all ought to be better this year, and both Tennessee and Georgia Tech are dangerous. Damon Evans is gone, Uga is dead, and Vince Dooley is a Vol fan. Why should I think slotting the ‘Dawgs in the top 25 is anything other than an act of hubris that will do nothing but set us up for a first-class smiting?
Notre Dame Fighting Irish: Brian Kelly was very successful at Cincinnati. Bob Davie, George O’Leary, Tyrone Willingham, and Charlie Weis all were successful at the jobs they held before becoming the head coach in South Bend, too. Yes, the Irish will get a dead cat bounce at the start of a new coach’s tenure---they always do---but why should that lead me to conclude that the Pugnacious Hybernians are headed anywhere other than a postseason shellacking in a bowl bid they received on name recognition alone?
USC Trojans: Lane Kiffin’s lone on-field accomplishment as a head coach was beating the worst Georgia team of the Mark Richt era, so there simply is no basis for believing he will succeed. The Men of Troy just received the sort of hammering from the NCAA that cripples a program. The Pac-10 is a deep league that already had begun to expose the Trojans before Pete Carroll bolted for the NFL. Should I really expect fewer than four losses from Southern California this year?
Wisconsin Badgers: I think this team is going to go 9-3, lose to the three best teams on its schedule, and defeat no one of note. Why am I wrong?
I don’t mean to sound harsh, but, frankly, I’m not sold on any of those squads---please note that one of them is my own, so I am an equal-opportunity offender---and I’m disinclined to rank them. Nevertheless, I am keeping an open mind, so, if there are reasons why I’m off-base about any of the foregoing, this is your opportunity to state your case.