The USA Today coaches poll (no, I'm not using the corporate sponsor's name) is out today, marking another one of the summertime rituals associated with college football. And I'm sure you'll be shocked to hear that there are no real shockers in the rankings.
|RANK||TEAM||RECORD||POINTS||FIRST PLACE VOTES||PREVIOUS RANK|
|1||Florida State Seminoles||14-0||1543||56||NR|
|2||Alabama Crimson Tide||11-2||1455||NR|
|6||Ohio State Buckeyes||12-2||1267||1||NR|
|8||Michigan State Spartans||13-1||1050||NR|
|9||South Carolina Gamecocks||11-2||1009||1||NR|
|17||Notre Dame Fighting Irish||9-4||509||NR|
|18||Arizona State Sun Devils||10-4||358||NR|
|20||Texas A&M Aggies||9-4||266||NR|
|21||Kansas State Wildcats||8-5||257||NR|
|23||North Carolina Tar Heels||7-6||175||NR|
Others Receiving Votes:
Missouri 126; Florida 122; Central Florida 102; Mississippi State 74; Oklahoma State 56; TCU 54; Michigan 53; Iowa 49; Miami (Fla.) 45; Duke 41; Louisville 32; Marshall 27; Brigham Young 18; Boise State 13; Louisiana-Lafayette 12; Virginia Tech 12; Texas Tech 8; Minnesota 6; Cincinnati 6; Northwestern 5; Oregon State 4; Fresno State 4; GeorgiaTech 2; Houston 2; Arkansas 1; Arizona 1; Northern Illinois 1.
As expected, and as has become almost customary in recent years, last year's champion clocks in at No. 1, with Florida State favored to repeat despite the likelihood that things get more complicated in a four-team playoff and the fact that only one team has repeated as undisputed national champions (among the major selectors) since Nebraska did it in 1994-95.
Closer to home: The SEC would get just one team into the college football playoff if this is how the rankings turn out (hint: that would probably happen anyway), with Alabama clocking in at No. 2. (If you really want to play the seeding game, the first-round games would be Florida State-Oregon and Alabama-Oklahoma.) Auburn does grab the No. 5 spot, putting it just outside the pack and with a decent chance at making it.
No. 9 South Carolina is the only other conference team in the Top 10, but Georgia and LSU land just outside at No. 12 and No. 13, respectively. Ole Miss clocks in at No. 19, followed by Texas A&M at No. 20. That makes a total of seven SEC teams, or half of the league, in the Top 25 -- not bad.
Just outside of the poll: Missouri leads the pack of other teams receiving votes, with Florida right behind the Tigers. Mississippi State is your de facto No. 29, with UCF standing between the Bulldogs and the Gators. And Arkansas got a vote as No. 25 in the poll -- before you ask, yes, Bret Bielema is a voter.
Nothing is really that out of whack with the preseason consensus. While Florida is a notable omission, it's not that much of a surprise that a 4-8 team ended up not making the cut. The inclusion of Texas A&M indicates more confidence in the Aggies than I have, but we'll see. If the defense significantly improves, it's not out of the question for A&M to end up ranked.
To an extent, this poll doesn't really "matter," at least as much as it used to, in the sense that it's no longer part of a formula used to determine who plays for the national title. But to the extent that it distills conventional wisdom about the college football landscape, it does still matter. The selection committee is likely to look at the polls as they make their decisions; it's better to be in than out at this point, but it's much better to be in that out at the end of the season.