Photo Credit: Ricardo B. Brazziell – American Statesmen
On Thursday morning, USA Today released its pre-season coaches poll. Unsurprisingly the Crimson Tide claimed the No. 1 spot in the poll and Ohio State is No.2; but there’s still a couple of surprises. The biggest of these surprises is the inclusion of the University of Texas, which is in the poll purely based off of its histoical reputation, -and the University of Utah, which is in the poll at No. 25….for some reason.
The Longhorns are bringing in new head coach Tom Herman to try and restore the program’s prominence among college football’s blue bloods. Herman is taking over a roster that has serious concerns about the talent level on defense, along with the depth on that side of the ball. During the few Texas games I managed to catch last season, there was a clear athletiscism gap between UT’s defense and the other offenses the Longhorn’s faced in the Big 12. And that’s the major reason Charlie Strong’s squad finished the season with a 5-7 record, which cost Strong his job.
Despite these issues on the defensive side of the ball, the Longhorns are sitting at No. 23 in the coaches poll. Which is absolutely mindboggling.
The fact that the coaches, really one of their graduate assistants, placed Texas in the top 25 is really really dumb, for realz. Other than the previously mentioned deficiencies on defense, there’s also a new coach; and as these coaches are well aware of…transitioning from one coaching staff to another isn’t always easy. Players have to learn their new play books, while the coaching staff has to evaluate the existing talent to see what can be done with the athelets on the roster…and what can’t be done.
As for Utah, the Utes are are coming off of a 9-4 season; but they still don’t have the quarterback position figured out and saw several seniors graduated off of their defense; in fact, the Utes are returning the fewest starters in the Pac-12 heading into 2017. While the defense is likely to be solid to excellent, again, this season, there are serious concerns about how productive the offense is going to be this upcoming season. We shall see what happens during the season, but including the Utes are ranked a little too high at No. 25.
There really isn’t too much else to object to in the pre-season top 25. Washington is properly situated at No. 7, especially with how weak their non-conference schedule is; Stanford feels a little right at No. 14; while Florida might be ranked a little too highly at No. 16. But this is a pre-season poll that is largely filled out by graduate assitants, it’s absolutely meaningless…but fun to discuss.