I find it more interesting who’s NOT ranked in the preseason top 25 college football polls voted on by the coaches and media than who is.
The polls are almost identical this year, as they are nearly every year, because, really, how many schools truly make the commitment to be a perennial top-25 team?
By my count there are 28 programs that ought to be ranked in the top 25 college football polls every year. They don’t include Penn State because who knows what its future is in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
These are the schools that spend the money to build the facilities and hire the best coaches, have large and passionate fan bases, are often willing to ignore academic and characters flaws in top athletes and have a history of success.
There are 20 of these schools ranked this year. Of the remaining eight there are three that grab your attention. I’m talking about Texas, Michigan and, yes, the Florida Gators. If they’re not ranked that means they have serious problems.
Big-time college football is easily the sport that has the biggest gap between the “haves” and have-nots”. Change in the college football landscape comes slowly.
Every year there are two or three Cinderella teams, teams that burst into the national spotlight for two or three years and then disappear. About every decade a new program joins the list of elite and near-elite programs and perhaps one falls out of those categories. Otherwise, everything remains basically the same. Shuffle the positions but the names remain the same -- like a deck of cards.
Which teams make up my “Power 28”?
By conference (* -- not ranked in preseason top 25):
SEC – Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Tennessee*, Texas A&M, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida*.
ACC – FSU, Clemson, Virginia Tech*, Notre Dame and Louisville*.
Big Ten – Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan*, Nebraska and Wisconsin.
Big 12 – Oklahoma, Oklahoma State* and Texas*.
Pac-12 – Southern Cal, UCLA, Oregon, Washington, Stanford, Arizona State and Arizona*
Among those that are close to joining this power category are Ole Miss, Missouri, Arkansas, Miami, North Carolina, N.C. State, Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh, Baylor, Kansas State, Texas Tech, Iowa, Central Florida and Boise State.
That’s a total of 42 schools. So how big a deal is it to make the top 25?
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