2009 Preseason Coaches Poll - Analysis
Texas QB Colt McCoy
Texas QB Colt McCoy
Posted Aug 7, 2009

The 2009 Preseason Coaches' Poll was released. What does it all mean? Who was ranked too high, too low, and who got no love whatsoever? What does it all mean for the national title chase and the potential BCS matchups? Pete Fiutak breaks down the rankings that truly matter.

2009 Preseason Coaches' Poll

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By Pete Fiutak

Preseason Coaches' Top 25
1. Florida
2. Texas
3. Oklahoma
4. USC
5. Alabama
6. Ohio State
7. Virginia Tech
8. Penn State
9. LSU
10. Ole Miss
11. Oklahoma St
12. California
13. Georgia
14. Oregon
15. Georgia Tech
16. Boise State
17. TCU
18. Utah
19. Florida State
20. North Carolina
21. Iowa
22. Nebraska
23. Notre Dame
24. BYU
25. Oregon State
When looking at the USA Today Coaches' Poll, you have to keep in mind that 1) the people voting in this poll don't really know any of the teams or any of the players (you think Bobby Bowden or Ron Zook has any clue who the Boise State starting quarterback is?), 2) the voters aren't always the coaches, and 3) it's the poll that actually matters.

The AP poll is irrelevant and the Harris Poll doesn't come out until October, when the first BCS rankings are released. The USA Today Coaches' Poll means almost everything to the national title chase, so at the moment, if Florida (ranked No. 1) and Texas (ranked No. 2) go unbeaten, they'll be playing for the national championship no matter what anyone else does.

As expected, Florida was the preseason No. 1 getting 53 out of the possible 59 first place votes. Texas is ranked second and got four first place votes, Oklahoma is third and got one vote for the top spot, as did USC, ranked fourth.

The big question in every preseason poll this year will be the fifth slot. Everyone knows what the top four is, even if CFN has a couple of the pieces switched around, but the No. 5 ranking is up for debate. Alabama getting the nod over Ohio State isn't bad, and considering the Tide's relatively easy schedule, for the SEC, Nick Saban's club should be in a great spot to hover around the national title debate all season long. Of course, getting by No. 7 ranked Virginia Tech to start the season will be job one, and with the high preseason ranking, the Hokies can rocket into BCS Championship discussion with a win in the season opener; Frank Beamer's club is in position to do big things if it can overcome the loss of star back Darren Evans to a torn ACL.

One of the big stories throughout the year will be how to rank the Big Ten teams. Ohio State (No. 6) and Penn State (No. 8) aren't nearly as good as they were last year, but they have easy schedules and should have great records. Of course, Ohio State has to deal with USC in Columbus on September 12th, but that's it as far as the tough dates until the trip to Happy Valley to face the Nittany Lions. Penn State should be favored in every game it plays this year and gets no one, no one in non-conference play. If the Buckeyes can upset the Trojans, then the Big Ten will have everything in place to send two teams to Pasadena. One team to the Rose Bowl (but the Rose Bowl doesn't have to take a Big Ten team that's not the champion, but that's for later), and one team to the national championship.

The other key early matchup this year has No. 13 Georgia going to No. 11 Oklahoma State. This will be one fo the big statement games on the year for the SEC and the Big 12 and it should establish a precedent for how the teams in each conference are analyzed. If Georgia blows out the Cowboys on the road, then it'll be hard for Oklahoma or Texas to get as much respect for winning the Big 12 South. However, if OSU wins, and does it impressively, then its game on for the Big 12 season.

Ole Miss, the preseason darling in several publications, got a respectable No. 10 ranking, but Rebel fans might think that's too low. Notre Dame starts off at No. 23 to set the expectations at a reasonable level, while Iowa (21) and Nebraska (22), two teams that bounced back in 2008 and should be just as strong, if not better, in 2009, might be a little peeved at being outside of the top 20.

The non-BCSers got a ton of early love with Boise State ranked 16th, TCU 17th, and Utah 18th (even though, again, I'd bet six bucks and a bag of nuts that not one non-Mountain West coach who voted in this poll could name the starting quarterback on all three teams, if any). Remember, all a non-BCS conference team has to do is finish in the top 12 to get into the BCS, or finish in the top 16 with one of the BCS league champions finishing lower. That means the Mountain West is in a great position to send a team back to a big game, and Boise State has the world in its hands. If the Broncos can beat Oregon early on and finish unbeaten, or even 11-1, they'll almost certainly get an automatic bid unless one of the Mountain West teams finishes with one loss.

Meanwhile, the Big East and Conference USA need better PR firms. While there are three Mountain West teams in the top 25, Southern Miss got a mere five votes, East Carolina received three, and Houston got one. The Big East got absolutely no respect with no one ranked in the top 25 and with Cincinnati ranked 29th, Pitt 30th, West Virginia 31st, and Rutgers 32nd.

Five Key Overranked Teams
- No. 16 Boise State ... (CFN preseason ranking based on how good the team is going into the season and not where it'll likely end up) 43.
- No. 18 Utah ... CFN Rank: 40
- No. 20 North Carolina ... CFN Rank: 31
- No. 5 Alabama .. CFN Rank: 11
- No. 7 Virginia Tech ... CFN Rank: 14

Five Key Underranked Teams
- No. 21 Iowa ... (CFN preseason ranking based on how good the team is going into the season and not where it'll likely end up) 13.
- No. 31 West Virginia ... CFN Rank: 18
- No. 34 Missouri ... CFN Rank: 21
- No. 35 Illinois ... CFN Rank: 19
- No. 30 Pitt ... CFN Rank: 23

What Have You Done For Me Lately?
Teams that didn't get much respect for a strong 2008
- No. 26 Michigan State
- No. 28 Texas Tech
- No. 29 Cincinnati
- No. 34 Missouri
- No. 50 Boston College

No, Really, What Have You Done For Me Lately?
Power programs that got no love whatsoever.
- Michigan ... one vote
- Tennessee ... two votes
- Colorado ... two votes
- Wisconsin ... six votes
- Arkansas ... six votes