The Saturday before the Saturday before the season begins has become the annual date for the release of the AP Top 25 poll.
So it is again this year, as the poll was released this morning. Here it is, and as you can see, if you look all the way to the end of the teams receiving votes there is Washington, getting one vote (technically good for 45th place).
While I am again a voter in the poll (more on which in a minute) the vote for UW did not come from me (and obviously, I hope it’s understood that just because I cover UW doesn’t mean I’d be more compelled to vote for the Huskies than anyone else — that’s not the way these polls are supposed to work.)
Instead, the vote for UW came from Seth Emerson of the Macon (Ga.) Telegraph — here’s his poll.
The Huskies will play four teams that are in the poll — Oregon (3), Stanford (7), Nebraska (10) and USC 25). Three other UW foes received votes — Utah (30th), Hawaii (41st) and Arizona (43rd).
Now, here’s my poll:
5, Oklahoma State
7, Florida State
8, Boise State
9, South Carolina
11, Virginia Tech
14, Notre Dame
16, Texas A&M
18, Ohio State
22, Mississippi State
23, Arizona State
24, West Virginia
I know all the criticisms of pre-season polls. I’ve also always felt that if they (whoever “they” are) did away with all pre-season polls, the first thing people would do is start up pre-season polls of their own. It’s a natural curiosity of those who follow the sport to want to talk about and discuss which will be the best teams in any given year. And remember that the AP poll is now basically for show — it has no official role in determining any bowl positioning, though obviously as the oldest of the polls, it holds a lot of symbolic value for the end-of-season winner.
As for how to put the poll together, I’ve always leaned toward having it be a reflection of where the teams are that week, not a projection of where they will finish at the end of the season. Inevitably, that creeps in to your thinking a little bit. But mostly, I’ve always viewed the polls as an overview of the Top 25 teams of that week (and for history’s sake, that’s one of the most value aspects of the poll, allowing fans to look back and chart the ebbs and flows of seasons).
Obviously, there’s a lot of poking that can be done at the picks on my poll and in the official poll. And lots has happened in just the last few weeks to affect positioning — I planned to have Arizona State a lot higher before some of their personnel losses of the off-season, for instance. As seems so often the case, there’s not a lot on paper separating team No. 15 from team No. 35.
For now, consider the polls a helpful guide to the season. In two weeks, the teams — thankfully — get to start stating their own case.