There have been plenty of opinionated way-too-early top 25 football rankings for 2016, but the first of the advanced stat rankings is out: the S&P+. The preseason projections have three aspects, which are recent recruiting success, what a team has returning from the previous year, and a weighted five year measure (weighted means more recent years count for more) since how teams typically fare is related to how they've done recently.
Here is how the conference's teams rate:
|School||Proj. S&P+ Rank|
There is no surprise in having Alabama and LSU near the top. The Tide's dynasty is very much alive, while the Tigers are an elite recruiting team and bring a ton back from last year's not-bad team. Ole Miss at seven is to be expected given that the S&P+ numbers have loved the team over the past couple of years. Tennessee's improved recruiting under Butch Jones and wealth of returning players makes a top ten rank seem reasonable.
The surprise to me is more at the bottom. I could imagine UK being below Vandy based on the weighted five-year average, considering that would include James Franklin's three bowl teams and a couple of Joker Phillips's awful teams. Even so, I wasn't thinking the gap could be that large. I also wasn't expecting South Carolina to be that low given its generally top-30 recruiting and its pretty decent teams (until last year).
Once the season starts, these preseason projections phase out of the S&P+ until about a month into the year when on-field results stand on their own.