(Author’s Note: The rankings following the jump are intended in jest. Bring your sense of humor with you. You have been warned.)
Our good friend (and soon-to-be conference coeval) Bill Connelly, of whom I made mention earlier today after he gave Mark Richt the credit due him (and thereby almost made up for singling out every Georgia loss of the 2011 college football season as one of the best of the campaign), became the first BlogPoll voter to rank his pre-pre-preseason top 25 for 2012. While I applaud his effort, and the efforts of those of my blogging colleagues who will undertake the identical endeavor this week, I believe such an exercise aims too low. For myself, I intend instead to shoot for a loftier target, which is why I have decided to bring you . . .
- Alabama: Hey, I’ve ticked these guys off enough in the present; I’m not going to infuriate them in the future, too! Since becoming the first college football team coached by a cyborg in 2018, the Crimson Tide have gone undefeated in thirteen straight seasons, capturing 16 national championships in the process. Many believe the program’s head coach, NIK-9000, has built his sustained success on converting his student-athletes into cyborgs, medically redshirting the human halves of the less successful man-machines, and maintaining an active roster of 170 players due to a loophole that allows Alabama to count each cyborg player as only 50 per cent of a human being. The Tide are poised for another run after successfully defeating a proposed NCAA rules change that would have forced Alabama to count each student-athlete as three-fifths of a person.
- Southern California: When Lane Kiffin says this is the team he’s waited 20 years to coach, he isn’t kidding; the brash serial secondary-violator offered scholarships to each and every one of the current crop of Trojans when they were still in diapers, and, after cultivating these prep prospects for two full decades, he has USC ready to challenge for another national championship.
- Texas: The Longhorns have faced daunting slates every year since joining the Big Us in 2016, annually competing in a dozen intra-squad scrimmages that make Texas the only team tough enough to tangle with Texas twelve times every autumn. Last year’s 12-0 run through the regular season ended on a down note when the ‘Horns lost the Cotton Bowl to SEC West powerhouse Texas A&M, but, with the Austin-based and ESPN-subsidized Longhorn Bowl set to extend an invitation to Texas as soon as the Longhorns become eligible for the postseason after an autumn spent playing with themselves, an undefeated season appears all but assured for Texas.
- Louisiana State: The Bayou Bengals went through a bit of a downcycle after a distracted Les Miles mistakenly ate a handful of artificial turf from the Superdome in the 2019 Sugar Bowl, but the Tigers have rebounded from the accidental poisoning that gave their head coach brain damage. The lean years might not have lasted so long had it not taken the LSU athletic administration another four years to recognize the problem. “Les pretty much just coached like he always did,” admitted a befuddled athletic director.
- Florida State: No, I don’t believe this, either, but, if you rate a perennially underachieving team as a preseason top five club on the strength of consistently solid recruiting despite any evidence that this will ever pay off on the field, you’re bound to be right eventually. This could be the year one of those typewriter-wielding chimpanzees finally lucks into banging out “Hamlet”!
Central Florida: Though their move to the Big East in the early 2010s helped them immensely, the Knights’ ultimate breakthrough resulted from the unarrested progress of global climate change. After rising seas eradicated Gainesville, Miami, and Tampa from the map in 2024, UCF began hauling in recruits who otherwise might have signed with the Gators, the Hurricanes, or the Bulls . . . at least, recruits from those areas of the
SunshineSubmerged State still capable of sustaining human life!
- Texas A&M: The Aggies are loaded, confident, and expected to contend with a stout defense and a potent offense. Yeah, they’re going 6-6, aren’t they?
- Clemson: The Tigers are really, really determined to commemorate the 50th anniversary of their 1981 national championship by making this the first year since the end of the Danny Ford era in which the Country Gentlemen don’t gack up an inexplicable loss to N.C. State or some similar bulwark of nondescript mediocrity in utterly baffling fashion.
- Notre Damichigan: In response to the fading relevance of the onetime Midwestern powers, and in recognition of the reality that, to outsiders, these two schools were indistinguishable has-been programs with obnoxious fans who were utterly oblivious to their lack of any latter-day foundation for being so condescending, Michigan and Notre Dame finally merged in 2027. The Fighting Wolverirish figure to finish ahead of the other 26 teams in the Big Ten.
- Georgia: Mark Richt begins his 31st season in Athens as the Bulldogs’ all-time winningest head coach, with six SEC championships to his credit. Will this year’s ten-win season be the one that finally forces the Atlanta Journal-Constitution to concede he is no longer on the hot seat?
- Ohio State: The Buckeyes are confident heading into 2031, asserts fifth-year head coach Craig Krenzel. “Unless we draw an SEC team in the bowl game,” Krenzel adds. “Then we’re screwed, blued, and . . . um, well, all right, we’re just screwed and blued.”
- South Carolina: Is this year the “next year” that will see the Gamecocks finally bring an SEC championship home to Columbia? Well, if not, there’s always next year.
- Oregon: Back from a decade-long NCAA probation handed down after their nuclear day-glo yellow jerseys equipped with rotating razor-sharp stainless-steel mallard feathers left most of the Washington State football team blinded or beheaded, the Ducks hope to reclaim their previous Pac-12 stature despite being forced to wear black, white, and grey uniforms patterned after the film “Pleasantville.”
- Georgia State: Since they began to prowl the Big East in 2020, the Panthers have become the dominant sports force on the Atlanta landscape. This year, GSU looks to prove that this isn’t your grandfather’s commuter school any more!
- West Virginia: Whatever conference the Mountaineers are in, they’ll probably be pretty good in it.
- Auburn: How good will the Plainsmen be this season? The NCAA already has an investigator assigned to deliver a letter of inquiry to the Tigers as soon as they get to eight wins!
- Mythical Montana: Prior to the Fightin’ Mandels’ breakout season in their first Division I-A campaign in 2028, there probably weren’t four out of a hundred randomly-selected average college football fans who even knew this team existed, but MMU has become a fixture atop the standings of the 22-team WAC, which changes its lineup for the 25th time in the last 32 seasons.
- Oklahoma/Oklahoma State: One or the other of them; I’m just not sure which.
- UCLA: Yeah, I don’t believe this, either, but it ought to be true, right?
- Pitt: Pretty much UCLA, only without the scenery.
- Virginia Tech: All right, I’m basically just filling in placeholders at this point.
- Boise State: Folks may finally get the message that Chris Petersen isn’t going anywhere, now that he’s declined job offers from three-fourths of the schools in Division I-A.
- Tokyo Tech: After Florida International broke down the barrier for teams from other countries, this Japanese trade school brought its triple-option attack to the Big Far East. TTU looks to bring home a conference crown, but how will the Rising Sun Devils fare in the bowl game? They might stand a chance if they draw Hawaii in December, but they’re in trouble if they go up against Godzilla.
- Vulcan Science Academy: Since first contact was made in 2028, the future Federation mainstays have tried to fit in here on Earth, but their insistence upon “logical” play-calling has made them a tad too predictable, particularly in their annual rivalry showdown with the freewheeling reckless cadets of Starfleet Academy.
- Purdue: I’m pretty sure they’ll exist again by then.
What are your thoughts on my (admittedly early) 2031 preseason top 25? What factors do you think will influence the accuracy of these rankings over the course of the next 20 years, such as coaching changes, conference reshuffling, injuries, early exits for the NFL, NCAA sanctions, the forthcoming birth of the athletes who will be playing the game by then, and the risks of worldwide economic meltdown, global thermonuclear war, and the complete collapse of the American political system and our country’s subsequent domination by the Chinese to whom we have mortgaged our futures? Your (thoroughly premature) thoughts are invited in the comments below.