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The Coaches Poll – #8



Preseason polls are kind of like Bill Simmons’ annual trade value column. A hell of a lot of fun to read and study and argue about but in the end mostly not that meaningful.

Well, not meaningful in the sense that they don’t really hold much weight as to who’s good and who’s not good (Auburn was #22 this time last year).

Unfortunately for the college football fan, since the NCAA is stuck somewhere between the late 70s and Doug Flutie’s BC career in terms of progressiveness, polls actually do mean something when it comes to who plays for the national title.

And that actually turns out to be a good thing for #8 (in the coaches poll) Oklahoma State this year since they only need to win twelve straight sixty minute college football games and have six teams in front of them lose once and we’ll all be dancing on Bourbon street in five months.

See the problem for OSU (and really the problem with preseason polls in general) has always been that if you don’t start high enough it’s nearly impossible to crack the top 10 or top 15 which would earn you hype and a national following which means you go to a bowl that pays a lot of money and…well you get the point.

In college negotiations classes they teach you that you need to set a base (or an “anchor”) from which to negotiate. Once you set the anchor it’s harder for me to pull you away from that spot in our arguments. The same is true for preseason polls. It’s why you have undeserving big-name teams sitting in the top 15 at the end of the season after a lackluster year – because it’s harder to move up or down no matter what you do once you’re anchored by the weight of that preseason ranking. Even though the initial ranking is based on what you did nine to ten months ago. The whole thing makes my head hurt.

Last year OSU started outside the top 25 and proceeded to outscore its opponents 297-173 in the first six games. They “rose” to #14 but still had four 1-loss teams ahead of them. If that same scenario takes place this year I can bet you whatever amount of money Dez Bryant has on him in jewelry right now OSU will not have four teams ahead of them in the polls. It’s simple math really: jumping over a large amount of teams in a poll voted on by humans is harder than jumping over a small amount of teams.

Last year they could have run the table and Mike Holder could have given Mark Emmert a lap dance and there’s a 0% chance they would have been playing for crystal in Tempe. This year though? If you go undefeated you’re absolutely playing for the title unless a.) two teams ahead of you don’t lose or b.) a team from the SEC behind you doesn’t lose.

We’ve been here before too, quite recently really. In 2009 the Zac and Dez show Cowboys started at #11 in the coaches poll before handling Georgia and leapfrogging five teams to land at #6 in week 2 behind (in order): Florida, Texas, USC, Alabama, and Penn State. I got a text from Nolo about four minutes after that poll came out that read, “Florida! Texas! USC! Alabama! Penn State! Are those college football teams you want to be associated with?!?!?!?!”

Then we played Houston at home and you know the rest.

I’m also curious as to what goes on in the minds of coaches when they’re voting on stuff like this: “okay Florida State, man they’re going to be good this year with Bowden and Ponder running the show. Top five for sure. LSU too with Jamarcus Russel, man I don’t know if we could beat them.” I mean these people literally do not care about anything besides their teams winning the games on their schedules. It’s absolute insanity that the way they vote is 1/3 responsible for the two teams playing for the national title and millions of dollars (indirectly of course).

A few more thoughts on the new coaches poll (I know we don’t care, but I’m going to break it down anyway!!):

  • Texas was 5-7 last year and lost to Iowa State at home and is ranked #24.
  • Tulsa was 10-3 last year and beat Houston and Notre Dame on the road and didn’t get a vote.
  • I’m liking that OU is #1 because that means they’re probably going to be AP #1 too…and you know what that means!!
  • Teams I think will finish higher than where they start: West Virginia, Mississippi State, and Michigan
  • Teams I think will finish lower than where they start: OU, LSU, and Nebraska.

This OSU team is where it should be: in the top ten with a world of expectations. That late September game with A&M will almost definitely be between two top ten (and maybe top eight or seven) squads and Kyle Field is going to be a war zone. It’s going to be phenomenal.

So here it is Cowboys, take care of business in September and you’ll be a top five squad going into October with the table set for a title run. New Orleans has never been closer to Stillwater than it is right now.

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