August 05, 2006

The Coaches Poll is Downright Loony

I DON'T KNOW about the rest of you, but I think America's college football coaches -- Joe Paterno excepted -- have collectively gone stark raving loony. It is, after all, the only plausible explanation for them naming the Ohio State Buckeyes the No. 1 football squad in the USA Today pre-season coaches' poll.

I hear my readers muttering, so let me assure you: even though I hate Ohio State and all its works, this is not sour grapes on my part. Really.

Yes, the Buckeyes have Troy Smith and Antonio Pittman and Ted Ginn returning on offense. They do not, however, have A.J. Hawk, Anthony Schlegel, Ashton Youboty and a whole host of other players returning on defense. Maybe it's just me, but Ohio State's great defense last year played a huge part in why they did so well, and without those key players I can't see why they should get a No. 1 ranking.

Ohio State should be No. 3 or No. 4, but not No. 1. Rather, No. 1 should go to Notre Dame, which has whole bunches of its top starters returning and will be an extremely formidable squad. Instead, Notre Dame is ranked No. 3 -- and tied with USC for that! (Texas, last year's national champ, is in the No. 2 spot, and I suspect that's overly generous -- their quarterback last played in high school).

Meanwhile, the coaches ranked Michigan, which went 7-5 last year, No. 15! What the hell were they thinking?

Loyal Rant Readers know I'm a fanatic partisan on behalf of the Michigan Wolverines, the greatest and best college football team in history. That said, I can't believe we deserve to be ranked No. 15. Much of that is because Lloyd Carr remains as coach, and barring a miracle season, that alone should knock us down five or six spots. But also, I'm not convinced Michigan's present players have proven themselves yet. The squad went 7-5 last year. They need to earn a high berth. We should've been somewhere in the twenties.

Meanwhile, Iowa and Penn State were ranked No. 17 and No. 19, respectively. This does not compute. Iowa is a surprisingly good team: for instance, it only lost to Michigan last year in overtime (and OT in college football is notoriously stupid). As for Penn State, it continues to have Joe Paterno as coach, which should automatically boost Penn State several notches. Sure, PSU's defense left too, but No. 19 seems a bit low.

Of course, I do realize that all these rankings will prove moot after the first couple of weeks, particularly when Akron knocks off Penn State in Happy Valley. What's that? You think I'm kidding? Only a little, my friends, only a little. As a Midwesterner, the Mid-American Conference is almost as near-and-dear to me as the Big Ten, and the Akron Zips are a team one underestimates at one's peril.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at August 5, 2006 10:09 AM | TrackBack
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