LSU Football: Tigers Tagged at No. 3 in Preseason Top 25 Poll

Sean MerrimanCorrespondent IFebruary 17, 2012

OXFORD, MS - NOVEMBER 19: Zach Mettenberger #8 of the LSU Tigers looks to the sideline against the Ole Miss Rebels on November 19, 2011 at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Mississippi. LSU beat Mississippi 52-3. (Photo by Joe Murphy/Getty Images)
Joe Murphy/Getty Images

Get me my reading glasses. There must be something wrong here. I thought I just saw the LSU Tigers drop two spots, from No. 1 to now No. 3 in the 2012 College Football Preseason Top 25 poll?

Don't get me wrong here, coming out with preseason college football rankings in mid-February is as silly as it gets because at the rate college football has been going as of late, who really knows what type of scandal will rock what program in the next six months?

But how do you justify a team dropping two spots just like that?

In his annual preseason poll, writer Mark Schlabach moved LSU down from No. 1 to No. 3 and USC up to No. 1 in the second edition of his "Way-Too-Early Preseason Top 25." Alabama came in between the two schools at No. 2. 

Alright, fair enough, USC is a good football team. But is this because USC is that good, or because there are questions about LSU next season?

Schlabach lists his opening reason for dropping LSU in his poll because not much has gone right for this team as of late with the departure of Rueben Randle, Morris Claiborne and Michael Brockers to the NFL Draft and Gunner Kiel splitting for Notre Dame after giving a verbal commitment to the Tigers.

For starters, everyone in their right mind knew that Claiborne was going to the NFL. He was hands down the best cover cornerback in America this season, but guess what, LSU has a ton of talent behind him at that position, including a guy by the name of Tyrann Mathieu, who, I don't know if you heard, was a Heisman Finalist this past season.

As for Randle and Brockers, those were certainly not foregone conclusions that either of them were going to turn pro, especially Brockers, but again, LSU is loaded at both the wide receiver and defensive lineman positions. Not to mention, when you have the deepest core of running backs in the country, how much does replacing one explosive receiver (Randle) with another one (Odell Beckham) really matter?

Moving on, Schlabach mentions the new quarterback in Baton Rouge, Zach Mettenberger and the lack of depth behind him. That's fair, but I certainly wouldn't complain if I had Stephen Rivers, a talented young quarterback and the brother of NFL star QB Phillip RIvers, serving as my backup signal-caller, would you?

Of course, I get the fear of having a first-year starting quarterback leading your team, especially when expectations are this high, but guess what, it's far from unheard of. In fact, look at the past two National Champions.

Alabama won the National Title this year with a first-year quarterback in A.J. McCarron, and Auburn did the same last year with Cam Newton, who had arguably the best single season of any quarterback in college football history.

The point here is that USC, LSU and Alabama all have great football programs and all three should be in for great seasons in 2012. But the reasons for dropping LSU two spots just simply don't add up here.

I'm the farthest thing from an SEC fan, but when it comes to college football, the Pac-12 simply isn't in the same conversation as a team like LSU.