The 2010 Preseason USA Today Coaches Poll has been released. Let's talk football!
As usual, there are some picks that have you nodding your head in affirmation, and others that have you shaking your head in disgust.
In this article, let's focus on the ones that have us saying, "c'mon!"
Going down the list we have the defending champs, Alabama at No. 1, Ohio State No. 2, Florida No. 3, and Texas No. 4. Not a whole lot to argue with there. The defending champs at No. 1 makes sense, Ohio State returns 15 starters, and Florida and Texas remain the powerhouses that are Florida and Texas. All good.
The first surprise comes at No. 5 with Boise State. Apparently the nation and coaches have still not fully bought into Boise State. The team that used to be considered a Cinderella is steadily becoming a consistent winner and dominating the WAC.
Under head coach Chris Petersen the Broncos are 49-4 overall, and defending their "blue turf" well with a 26-0 record at home. It's nice to see Boise State in the top five nationally, but with 20 returning starters I would go as far as to slot the Broncos No. 3 overall, in front of Florida and Texas.
Moving down the list, we reach No. 12 and 13: Wisconsin and Miami. There are some who feel it is a surprise that Wisconsin is placed above Miami. Let's dismiss this surprise quickly. Wisconsin has 16 returning starters to Miami's 13. Wisconsin is coming off an impressive 20-14 win over the Miami Hurricanes, in which the Badgers dominated 58 minutes of play (Miami gave Wisconsin scare in last two minutes of the game). Wisconsin is deserving of being ranked one spot above Miami.
The next surprise comes at No. 14 with the Penn State Nittany Lions. Penn State returns 13 starters (eight on offense, five on defense) and is thought by many to be in a bit of a rebuilding year. Losing senior quarterback Daryll Clark is a huge loss, as now there will be a quarterback battle to determine a new and truly untested starter. No. 14 seems high for the Nittany Lions. But with Joe Paterno slowly pacing the sidelines, (or sitting up in the sky box, for a few), who knows?
Florida State at No. 20 is a surprise as well. The fact that the Seminoles are even in the preseason poll is a bit of stretch. Apparently, Florida State's potential is enough for the voters.
Florida State (7-6) has the worst 2009 record of any team in the top 25. I would take Florida State out of the top 25 and replace them with a Cincinnati team that went 12-1 last season, making an appearance in the Sugar Bowl. If the Seminoles are going to be good this year, let them earn their way in. It's tough for me to have someone justify a 7-6 team in the top 25 the following year.
This last point isn't so much a "surprise," but more of a pondering moment. It's funny to think of how quickly things can change for teams. Looking back at the preseason coaches poll for 2008, the Georgia Bulldogs were ranked No. 1 ahead of USC. Three years later Georgia comes in at No. 20, and USC isn't even ranked (due to violations).
Overall, the preseason top 25 coaches poll is a sound list of teams, and many are grouped fairly. But, the few discussed are ones worth watching. Who knows, maybe the ones we find as surprising preseason selections will "surprise" us and justify themselves. We'll know soon enough.