You know how they say that, at this point in training camp, every NFL team is a Super Bowl contender? It’s the opposite in college football, especially this year. Everyone is nothing but a series of question marks and doubts. No one knows what kind of team their school has yet.
If there ever was a year to highlight the pointlessness of preseason polls, it’s the 2010 season.
Have a look at the AP poll this week. There isn’t one team on that poll that doesn’t have some sort of major issue heading into the season. And, you know, since this is a sports blog and all, I thought I’d run through a few of those teams to make my point. It’s nearly fall and cynicism’s in the air, after all.
Oh sure, they’ve got the Heisman trophy winner, Mark Ingram, coming back and Trent Richardson behind him on the depth chart. Julio Jones is still on the outside and their nameless, white quarterback-of-the-moment can still get him the ball once in a while.
But everyone knows that last season’s Alabama team didn’t win the title because its offense was so amazing. Their defense lost its two key players (Terrence Cody and Rolando McClain) to the NFL and have to prove that they can be as stunningly effective as they were last year. I mean, yeah, it’s a Nick Saban defense, but did you watch ESPN’s Training Days: Alabama Football? Sure, Rob Ezell is funny, but Saban spent the rest of the time yelling at the team for being lazy and making mental mistakes.
I realize that every coach gives those same speeches during fall camp, but to put them on television when you’re about to start a national title defense? Yikes. Either ‘Bama’s going to take a step back, or Saban doesn’t give a f*ck what you or I thinks. Maybe both.
(2) Ohio State
The main justification for the Buckeyes’ chances at the national title is Terrelle Pryor. He is supposedly the key to doing what only Maurice Clarett and Craig Krenzel could do: win the BCS title game.
So…lemme get this straight. A quarterback who completed 56% of his passes and threw 11 interceptions AND only averaged 4.8 yards per carry is supposed to take such a big leap that the always horrible OSU offense is going to suddenly light the world on fire? Yeah right. Pryor is, or was, I guess, supposed to be good at both passing and running. Turns out he’s not really amazing at either. Sure he’s fast, but he’s not particularly elusive. Yes, he has a good arm, but he couldn’t hit Kirstie Alley from five yards away.
Worse, there is no offensive coach worse suited for using a spread quarterback than Jim Tressel. The man just doesn’t have it in him to put Pryor or anyone else in the shotgun and run the read option all the time. He’s even got Pryor under the illusion that he can make him into an NFL passer through some sort of hybrid offense that lets him run but also has him throw pro-style routes.
Quick, name one good quarterback from OSU produced by Jim Tressel. Didn’t think so.
So that means it’s going to come down to the defense, DeVier Posey, and whoever the running back is going to be to make the difference. Just like every other OSU season. This team is at least two bad losses waiting to happen.
(3) Boise State
Biggest problem here is that no matter what happens, how well they play, or who they beat, they’re still Boise State. The BCS will never respect them or give them a shot at the championship. The move to the Mountain West is nice, but it’s still the Mountain West, and that isn’t until a year or two from now anyway.
Look, I really hope they go undefeated again, but it’s time to be realistic (fatalistic?) about the collusion between major conferences and corporate sponsors that is the BCS.
Replacing every meaningful skill position player that got them a national title two years ago and a BCS win last year. Including Tim Tebow. Even Urban Meyer thinks they suck right now.
You saw the BCS title game.
Actually, this isn’t just about replacing Colt McCoy with Garrett Gilbert (or that I’m old enough to remember his father playing in the NFL).
Texas doesn’t have one returning offensive player to rely on. Not one. Everyone is unproven on that side of the ball. No way do they make the BCS title game again.
(6) Texas Christian
They’ve got Andy Dalton and some running backs that’ll combine to make the Horned Frogs a pretty freaking good team again, just like Boise State. And also like Boise, there’s no chance in hell TCU gets any respect from the BCS again.
Same problem as Texas. Enough said.
Last year’s Cornhuskers were good because of Ndamukong Suh, the best defensive tackle since Warren Sapp. He was that disruptive and incredible.
Now? Lots of unproven players and question marks i.e. can the defense be even remotely that good again?
Really? We’re supposed to think a team that was trailing in so many games against mediocre competition and relies on the luck playmaking of Ricky Stanzi is supposed to repeat what they did last year? Jewel Hampton isn’t THAT good. People are going to feel like idiots for rating Iowa this high come mid-October.
(10) Virginia Tech
Actually, this is probably the team that is most likely to be good in the top 10. Tyrod Taylor is good as long as they don’t expect too much from him. Combine him with Darren Evans and Ryan Williams and they’ve got a little something. And you know their defense is going to be good. It’s Virginia Tech.
Still, that also means that, if past patterns hold, the Hokies are going to lose at least one game they should have won. Plus, they open the season against Boise State.
So, to sum up, maybe Virginia Tech should have been picked a little higher, but everyone else has some sort of major issue facing their team.
There is no possible way that a preseason poll can do anything in this instance other than bias future polls toward these questionable teams. There is no less doubt for, say, Texas, than there is for USC. Or Indiana, for that matter.
It doesn’t matter how “expert” these pollsters are. Preseason polls are the same as preview magazines. A nice appetizer for the season, but a hilarious read within weeks of their publishing. Much like Notre Dame football, this has to stop some time soon.