By Michael Hanich |
The first rankings of the 2018 College Football season were released August 2 with the unveiling of the Amway Coaches Top 25 Poll. The rankings are voted on by 65 Division 1 head football coaches. The Coaches Poll and the AP Poll are the two official rankings of the NCAA and the media to determine the worth and value of the top teams in the nation. This is before the College Football Playoff rankings in the middle of the season.
It should come as no surprise that the reigning national champion Alabama Crimson Tide are ranked #1 in the Coaches Poll. They are coming off their fifth title in the nine seasons, all with head coach Nick Saban. The Tide have been the most consistent team in the past 10 seasons to reload players who either graduated or left early for the NFL Draft. Right behind the Crimson Tide are the Clemson Tigers at #2, who have been playing tough games against the Tide for the past three seasons in the playoffs. The Ohio State Buckeyes received the #3 vote, despite the fact that coach Urban Meyer is on paid administrative leave in an ongoing domestic abuse investigation of an Ohio State assistant coach Zach Smith, which Meyer is alleged to have ignored or covered up. The reigning SEC Champs and runner-up in last year’s national championship game in the Georgia Bulldogs received the #4 ranking. The Oklahoma Sooners received the #5 ranking in Lincoln Riley’s first full season as head coach. The Washington Huskies were ranked 6th, Wisconsin Badgers were ranked 7th, Miami Hurricanes were ranked 8th, Penn State Nittany Lions were ranked 9th, and the Auburn Tigers finished out the top ten rankings at #10.
The SEC, Big Ten, and the Big 12 each have five teams named to the Amway Coaches Poll. Three of those five teams from the SEC (Alabama, Georgia, and Auburn) were named to the top 10. Three of those five teams from the Big Ten (Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Penn State) were also selected in the top 10. The ACC has a total of four teams selected in the Coaches Poll including two (Clemson and Miami) named to the top 10. Of all the Power Five conferences in college football, the Pac-12 is the conference with the least amount of their teams in the Coaches Poll with 3. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish (independent) are ranked #11, the Boise State Broncos (Mountain West) are ranked #22, and the UCF Knights (American Conference) are ranked #23.
There has been much criticism of preseason rankings such as the Amway Coaches Poll and the AP Poll. This is because they do not fully determine the value or worth a college football team. While the preseason rankings do not fully determine the worth of the teams, this is not so much the fault of the voters. The input of the teams during the season has just as much to do with the them as any other team. If a team finishes off strong from the previous season and then followed by a great recruiting/offseason work and finally lose one or more games, then that falls on the teams more than anything.
Last season, the Florida Gators started off at #16 in the Coaches Preseason Poll before they would eventually finish with an underwhelming 4-8 record. That same season, the Tennessee Volunteers started off at the #24 position in the Coaches Poll before ultimately accounting for a 4-8 record and going winless in eight SEC games.
The existence of these preseason polls is to mark and value the team’s progress from the end of last season to throughout the offseason with recruiting and camps to finally prepping for the opening game. These polls are a hypothetical starting off point for all college football teams for fans and non-fans to understand where the team stands from the beginning of the season. These preseason polls are not meant to be permanent as there will be teams that get significantly better and those get noticeable worse. A first general guideline of the top 25 teams currently in college football is the best way to describe these preseason polls. Much like every sport, college football is a week-by-week process to determine who is the best team in the nation. The Amway Coaches Poll has given us the first official look of who is reigning at the top now before the kickoff even starts.
Michael Hanich is a sports journalist and analyst in Gulf Shores, Ala., who writes for multiple outlets, in print and online. Hanich is a student at the University of South Alabama seeking a master’s degree in communications with a concentration in journalism.