NCAA Football Preseason Rankings 2022: Expert Reactions to Coaches Poll Top 25
Most of the United States is experiencing a heat wave as we approach mid-August, but there are welcome signs of fall around the corner.
And one of the hallmarks of the approaching season is the release of the preseason USA Today Coaches Poll, which ranks the top 25 college football programs in the nation as we approach the "Week 0" season kickoff on August 27. (Most programs start their seasons the following week.)
The poll, released Monday, held plenty of intrigue as programs on the bubble included Iowa, Penn State and Tennessee. To no one's surprise, Alabama sits atop the rankings, with 54 first-place votes out of the 65 head coaches who comprise the voters.
The Crimson Tide return Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Bryce Young, while outside linebacker Will Anderson is a potential 2023 No. 1 overall draft pick.
National champion Georgia, which defeated Alabama this January, comes in at No. 3 after losing much of its talent to the NFL draft.
And after a shocking 2021 campaign that saw them go from unranked to winning the Big Ten title against Ohio State, the Michigan Wolverines land just outside the top five, at No. 6. Ohio State is nipping at Alabama's heels in the No. 2 spot.
Let's take a look at the full top 25 and then break down some expert reactions.
NCAA Coaches Poll Top 25
2. Ohio State
5. Notre Dame
7. Texas A&M
11. Oklahoma State
13. NC State
14. Michigan State
15. Southern California
19. Wake Forest
Others Receiving Votes
Iowa 248; Penn State 246; Tennessee 163; Brigham Young 152; Louisiana State 143; Auburn 98; Central Florida 55; North Carolina 34; San Diego State 25; Fresno State 21; Mississippi State 19; Florida 17; Utah State 12; Air Force 12; UCLA 10; Boise State 10; Appalachian State 10; Minnesota 6; South Carolina 5; Kansas State 4; Iowa State 3; Army 3; UL Lafayette 2; Southern Methodist 2; Purdue 2; Oregon State 2; Coastal Carolina 2; Texas-San Antonio 1; Louisville 1; Florida State 1.
As always, one of the best parts of the Coaches Poll release is the reaction from media members and fans.
There's excitement for the consensus top teams, anger at perceived slights...and bewilderment at some of the other moves, such as the coach who apparently voted Texas No. 1, as The Athletic's Nicole Auerbach pointed out:
After the final poll is released following the College Football Playoff, the coaches' votes are made public. This is a storyline that should have some payoff in five months' time.
Scooby Axson of USA Today put together a list of five teams that were snubbed in the preseason poll, with Iowa leading the list. That's no surprise, considering the Hawkeyes just missed the cut, with 248 points. (Houston, the No. 25-ranked program, received 257 points.)
"Iowa ranked in the top 10 in turnover margin, while leading the nation in interceptions and must sustain that productivity and rely on its outstanding linebacking corps to compete with Wisconsin along with Ohio State and Michigan, who join the schedule this season," he wrote.
Ben Stevens at Sports Grid agreed with the snub, adding Penn State to the list and laying out the metrics the poll should be taking into account:
Penn State also got some love from Axson, who wrote, “Quarterback Sean Clifford is back for a sixth year, and coach James Franklin vowed to the Happy Valley fanbase that whatever issues have plagued his team over the past two years that it will get fixed."
And then, of course, there were the overrated programs. CBS Sports' Barrett Sallee ascribes that label to Notre Dame (No. 5) and Texas A&M (No. 7).
About the Irish, he wrote: "The absence of running back Kyren Williams, safety Kyle Hamilton and quarterback Jack Coan are all issues that need to be resolved before anointing the Fighting Irish as legit playoff contenders."
As for Texas A&M? Sallee called a No. 7 ranking "too much, too soon."
"The Aggies have a three-man battle at quarterback with LSU transfer Max Johnson, last year's opening-day starter Haynes King and hotshot freshman Conner Weigman," he wrote. "Coach Jimbo Fisher requires more out of his quarterbacks than virtually every other coach in the SEC, so expecting any of those three to step in and become a difference-maker is a bit aggressive."
The conversation, as it's designed to do, will surely continue into next week, when the updated poll is released. We can really begin to take the poll seriously the first week of September, when we've actually seen some of the product on the field.