2014 Coaches Poll - Does It Matter?

Posted Jul 31, 2014

Breaking down and analyzing the 2014 preseason USA Today Coaches' Poll.

2014 Preseason Coaches' Poll

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By Pete Fiutak 

Preseason Coaches' Top 25
1. Florida State
2. Alabama
3. Oklahoma
4. Oregon
5. Auburn
6. Ohio State
8. Michigan State
9. South Carolina
10. Baylor
11. Stanford
12. Georgia
13. LSU
14. Wisconsin
15. USC
16. Clemson
17. Notre Dame
18. Arizona State
19. Ole Miss
20. Texas A&M
21. Kansas State
22. Nebraska
23. North Carolina
24. Texas
25. Washington
Awwww, isn’t that cute? A bunch of coaches decided to vote on who they think the best college football teams are going into the 2014 season?

There’s one problem – this poll doesn’t matter anymore.

The Coaches Poll ruled the world during the BCS era – along with the Harris Poll that always seemed to be Oates/Garfunkel in terms of respect – but now it’s all about what the 13 College Football Playoff committee members sequestered in a Dallas hotel room in late October think. All that matters now is a ranking that’s still months away.

That’s not to say the Coaches Poll won’t have some influence, since it’ll probably sway public opinion a bit considering most people will still believe that the coaches will determine the actual outcome – just like most casual fans did with the AP poll during the late stages of the BCS era. But now the Coaches Poll is merely a fun exercise, since it’s not a part of the official criteria for coming up with the rankings that really will matter.

At the very least, this is a good snapshot of the general beliefs going into the season. Of course, Florida State is No. 1, and Alabama, Oklahoma and Oregon are two, three, and four, respectively, and then there are plenty of hot teams in the top ten equation like Michigan State at eight, UCLA at seven, and Baylor at ten.

It also shows the beliefs on just how good the conferences are and where the respect is.

Seven SEC teams are in the top 20 – and that doesn’t even include Missouri, Florida and Mississippi State, who were three of the next four ranked and all in the top 30 - and six from the Pac-12 make the top 25.

The Seminoles are No. 1, but the next ACC team – Clemson – is down at No. 16, and North Carolina is the only other league team to get into the top 25. And no, you can’t really lump Notre Dame in with the ACC.

The Big 12 didn’t exactly get brushed aside, but No. 3 Oklahoma and No. 10 Baylor are the only ones in the top 20, with Kansas State at 21 and Texas 24, and the Big Ten didn’t get too much love even with three teams – Ohio State at six, Michigan State at eight, and Wisconsin at 14 – in the top 15 and Nebraska all the way down at 22 and Michigan lumped into the coach section with the Others Receiving Votes.

And how about the representatives of the conferences outside of the Big/Power/Fantastic Five?

Cue the crickets.

Of course, all of this is based on speculation and educated guesses, but now that this poll doesn’t have the gravitas it once did, it’s just plain fun. It signals the start of your 2014 college football season, and away we go.

The Big Takeaway: There's nothing shocking here in any way. You could've put together this top ten the split-second Jameis Winston put on his championship hat. The pressure is on Oklahoma to live up to the lofty performance in the Sugar Bowl over Alabama - the Sooners would've probably been ranked around tenth had they been flattened by the Crimson Tide. The other big key seems to be the quarterback thread. The SEC is immune to the loss of a starting quarterback with Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia and LSU all getting ranked high despite starting a new guy under center, but everyone else in the elite status of the top 13 returns a star quarterback.

The Big Winners: The SEC, of course. Tennessee, Kentucky and Vanderbilt didn't receive a vote for the top 25, but the other 11 SEC schools were all put in the mix. Making matters crazier was the one first place vote for South Carolina and the high rankings for Georgia at 12 and LSU at 13. Half of the league's teams are in the preseason top 20, and Missouri, Florida and Mississippi State make it a whopping ten of the top 29.

The Big Losers: The little guy. No. 28 UCF is the highest-ranked team outside of the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC - throwing Notre Dame into the mix - and to expand out, Marshall is 37th, Boise State 39th and Louisiana-Lafayette is 40th. The buzz throughout the offseason, and especially media days, surrounded the power conferences and their desire to break away from the pack in every way possible. This year, with a preseason ranking like this, it's obviously going to be hard for anyone in any other league to get any respect.

Five Key Overranked Teams
- No. 3 Oklahoma
- No. 11 Stanford
- No. 14 Wisconsin
- No. 18 Arizona State
- No. 25 Washington

Five Key Underranked Teams
- No. 44 Cincinnati
- No. 33 Iowa
- No. 22 Nebraska
- No. 19 Ole Miss
- No. 9 South Carolina

What Have You Done For Me Lately?
- No. 10 Baylor
- No. 20 Texas A&M
- No. 26 Missouri
- No. 28 UCF
- No. 32 Michigan

No, Really, What Have You Done For Me Lately?
- No. 34 Miami
- No. 36 Louisville
- No. 41 Virginia Tech
- No. 47 Fresno State
- No. 50 (tied) Northern Illinois

No, REALLY, What Have You Done For Me Lately?
- No votes ... Tennessee
- No votes ... Bowling Green
- No votes ... Utah
- No votes ... Vanderbilt
- No votes ... Navy

Five Teams Outside of the Top 25 That'll Finish In
- No. 26 Missouri
- No. 27 Florida
- No. 32 Michigan
- No. 33 Iowa
- No. 44 Cincinnati