The Completely Ignorant Guide to the College Football Preseason Top 25

I cannot claim credit for this idea. I saw somebody do this 5-ish years ago, was insanely jealous, and immediately resolved to steal the idea for my own. I wasn’t alone. Deadspin had a Hater’s Guide for several years, but I think it died in 2013. I think that because I couldn’t be bothered to scroll down in my Google search. Several others have their own variants, but there hasn’t been anything consistent, nor am I able to locate the original that so inspired me.

Hailing from Nebraska, college football is in my blood. I used to say that I was a huge fan of Husker football, but over time I’ve realized that the easy availability of information in modern society has allowed everybody to be a goddamn football wizard. Back when I said I was a fan, people would immediately ask me what I thought our chances of landing that junior out of Calabasas High School, or what I thought of the defense’s switch to a Two Gap Technique. Since I don’t know these things, nor really have much desire to, I’ve since switched to saying that “I enjoy” college football, which helps to thwart some of the ridiculousness. I still know a few things, but I spend my free time in more fulfilling ways than evaluating Houston’s most recent recruiting class. You know, by watching cat videos.

What you’ll see below represents my personal thoughts on each team in the preseason Coaches Top 25 Poll (nobody gives a shit about what AP newspaper writers think), peppered with the very few facts that I do know. I promise to you that I will do little, if any, web hunting for information. I will, however, add memes where appropriate.

#1 – Alabama

There’s a large part of me that thinks that the state of Alabama pays ESPN et al to hype their program year in and year out to divert attention away from what it really is like to live in the state of Alabama. Aside from housing the University of Alabama and Auburn college football programs, here are some of the other things that you have to look forward to: Their #3-ranked public school system, their women don’t make you wear condoms, and their lovely weather. But all of that aside, they do seem to win a lot of football games. You can argue that they get a lot of help in the rankings, and you’d be right, but Alabama is rapidly growing into my favorite school to hate. Nick Saban is a great coach, of that I’m sure, but there’s only so long that I can tolerate the human cattle from Alabama bleating “Roll Tide” after yet another late-season victory over the Charleston Southern Buccaneers before I want to see Nick Saban have to eat a plate of Kirk Herbstreit’s feces in exchange for another preseason #1 ranking. My only solace is enjoying the irony of a state that really, really doesn’t like black people really, really cheering for a bunch of black kids when they win football games.

#2 – Clemson

I don’t know fuck-all about Clemson football, but I love me some Dabo Swinney. They need to put a camera on that guy 24/7 and sell subscriptions to the channel. He’s excitable gold. They’re still working to shake the well-earned verb Clemsoning, but have managed to limit their number of occurrences over the last few seasons. They even resisted the huge urge to choke in the title game last year, and that game was their only loss of the season. Granted, that’s pretty much the only loss that you do not want, but there’s a dignity in that loss, which I’m sure felt weird to the team. 2016 should present them with a decent shot to get back to the championship game behind the stout offensive line and the arm and legs of Deshaun Watson. Plus, they’ve still got Brent Venables as their defensive coordinator, and his name is really fun to say.

#3 – Oklahoma

Bob Stoops is another coach that I truly admire. College football is ruled by obsession; fans start websites about jerseys, media coverage is non-stop, and coaches get paid giant piles of cash to dedicate their entire lives to the team. But Bob Stoops punches the clock like he is putting tubs of margarine in boxes all day. In at 9, out at 5. And he continues to coach excellent football teams, finishing last season in 5th. I’ll be rooting for Samaje Perine and company to dethrone Alabama this year. If nothing else, I owe them my support after Stoops and Perine did Nebraska the favor of making sure that their epic defensive meltdown against Melvin Gordon and Wisconsin only stayed in the record books for one week. For that, I shall be eternally grateful.

#4 – Florida State

Their head coach is named Jimbo, and their players rape women while the local redneck law enforcement makes the victims aware that nobody in a position of authority cares. I hope Jimbo has to eat Saban’s shit-vomit on his way to the gates of hell, where he’ll be greeted by the ghost of Joe Paterno. I’m unsure as to how they’ll perform football-wise.

#5 – Ohio State

That last one got dark there for a minute, but seriously, fuck people who don’t respond appropriately to allegations or incidents of sexual assault. As for Ohio State, Urban Meyer has certainly won his breakup with Tim Tebow. After recovering from his chest pains (we all know it was heartbreak), he climbed into the sweater-vested saddle vacated by Jim Tressel and rode that buckeye-brown stallion to an impressive record since 2012. This year promises to be…interesting…for OSU. Their quarterback controversy is squelched now that Cardale Jones is doubling the same-store sales of Chipotle in Buffalo and Braxton Miller is working on his third torn labrum in Houston. JT Barrett, while inconsistent at times, has had another off-season to improve, and this one knowing that he is going to be the starter. And while their skill positions on both offense and defense were completely gutted by graduation and the draft, on paper they may end up being even better than they were last year. The area that I’m hoping improves the most is for the entire team to drop the stupid “THEE Ohio State…” because it’s not 1746 and we don’t pronounce “the” like that anymore. And there are no other Ohio States. And it’s stupid.

#6 – LSU

I wanted to type something about Les Miles here, but then I realized that my knowledge of college football coaches is sort of creepy. I don’t know why I know so many of them. To avoid talking about another coach, I’ll talk about how dumb it is that somebody who is 6’1″ and 230lbs can run a 40 in 3.9 seconds. And Leonard Fournette is only a junior, meaning that, if he’s really stupid and skips the NFL draft, he could play for ANOTHER year. Why would he have to be stupid to stay at LSU for another season? Aside from all of the obvious reasons of endangering his own future to help his college team, LSU is the cute, younger sister of the SEC. That sounds just fine until you realize that all of the other sisters are way hotter. And smarter. And sluttier. I personally believe that the SEC is overvalued as a conference, but regardless of their standing amongst other conferences, LSU has never really been better than third fiddle, nor does it look like they are this year either. Ranking-wise, they’re sitting in second, but I think they’re clearly inferior to Alabama, and they have Tennessee, Ole Miss, Georgia, and Florida nipping at their heels. Fournette alone may have them finally over that perennial underachiever hump, but the fact that they returned most of their starters on both sides of the ball certainly helps. Keep in mind though, I don’t really know what I’m talking about.

#7 – Stanford

Stanford’s mascot is a tree and they have an excellent business school.

#8 – Michigan

Jim Harbaugh brought his khakis and excellent presence from Bad Lip Reading to Michigan and instantly turned the program around. Returning a lot of their starters from last season and a creamy soft schedule out of the gate should put them on track for a strong finish. My personal biggest question for Michigan this season is if their marquee players are as good as they’re hyped to be. Namely, I’m not sure if Jabrill Peppers is all he’s touted to be.

#9 – Notre Dame

I will not mention Rudy. I will not mention Rudy. I will not mention Rudy. I will not mention Rudy. I will not mention Rudy. I will not mention Rudy.

#10 – Tennessee

Tennessee gets absolutely none of the credit it deserves in the SEC. They put together solid teams year in and year out, and then sit there and watch Saban eat Herbstreit’s feces in the off-season knowing full well that they’re resigned ratings nowhere north of 10th, which is where they find themselves again this year. They should easily be ranked no lower than 5th in any given year, based purely on how awesome their end zones look.

#11 – Michigan State

Shedding the dead weight of Connor Cook should improve the team immediately. I cannot foresee how they could do worse. An armless guy, a blind guy, any of it would be better than Connor Cook. He was such a colossal asshole that he made it very hard for the offense to find unity, and many times throughout last season, they didn’t have any. They’ll lose experience, but I honestly don’t see the setbacks being offset by what they’ll gain in morale. I think Sparty only moves up from this starting spot. Of course, being Sparty, they’ll probably somehow lose their season opener, which is a bye week.

#12 – Ole Miss

I’m not sure how Ole Miss isn’t immediately banned from the 2016 season after Laremy Tunsil’s epic draft day life meltdown. I’m not sure how badly he wronged somebody, but they got their vengeance. In what should be the smoking crater that used to be a program, you’ve got a bunch of university staff waiting for the shoe to drop. They’ve tried to impose their own sanctions, which I view cynically as a ploy to lessen what should be a very public execution of the program, but college football desperately needs another SMU to remind teams to play and recruit fairly. I don’t want the kids punished. The NCAA could easily allow players who didn’t commit any major infraction to transfer without losing eligibility and force Ole Miss to pay their scholarship money to the new school, but I’m tired of seeing rampant, blatant cheating go unpunished. If Ole Miss finishes this season with a number beside their name it will be a tragedy.

#13 – Houston

I think they throw the football a lot.

#14 – TCU

After mingling with a bunch of TCU fans at Nebraska’s final Big 12 Championship Game many years ago, I became a fan. Mostly because  bottle-blond Texas girls wearing cowboy hats, jerseys, skirts, and cowboy boots wilt what little willpower I have. Yes, of course I hate Baylor and SMU. No, I’m not a fan of Texas Tech or the Longhorns, either. Yes, I love the Cowboys and I think that Tony Romo is the greatest quarterback ever. No, I don’t think he chokes. As for their chances this year, I believe whatever one of those girls says that I should believe. Therefore, I believe that they’ll likely win the National Championship.

#15 – Iowa

More than 25% of Iowa’s power comes from wind energy. 100% of their disappointment comes from the Hawkeye football team.

#16 – Georgia

The Bulldogs are growing on me as a Nebraska of the south, but with a slightly inferior history of success. Bulldog fans know all too well the pain of perennial underperformance, and that unique combination of bad luck and bad decision-making that hurts so deeply. With a new head coach this season, and Nick Chubb on the mend from his brief stint playing an alien extra in the movie The Arrival, the Bulldogs should slowly climb us this ranking ladder, assuming that they can come through the other end of a pretty tough schedule (assuming normal SEC overvaluation).

#17 – USC

I don’t know how USC has ever lost a single football game. While the campus is in the middle of a ghetto, it’s a ghetto in Los Angeles. Every third woman you see is the most attractive woman you’ve ever seen. The players are treated like celebrities in a town that ACTUALLY has celebrities, so if you’re a badass college player, you get to meet Will Ferrell or Snoop Dogg/Lion. Being born in Nebraska, I always thought to myself that had I had any modicum of football talent, I would have walked on to the Husker football team. Then, as an adult male, I went to the USC campus and thought “Nope, I would have come here. Fuck Nebraska.” And I’m a grown-ass man. As an 18-year-old, I wouldn’t have stood a chance. Take all of their scholarships away indefinitely, the school doesn’t need them to recruit. Just kidding, it’s ridiculously expensive to go here, but you get my point. No matter how USC does this season, most of their starters will probably sleep with a model.

#18 – Washington

If you’ve never seen the George Washington Rap on YouTube, watch it right now. It’s better than the Huskies will ever be.

#19 – Oklahoma State

We’ve arrived at the part of the list that I really don’t care about, and I honestly stopped caring somewhere around #13. Regardless, you may want to know something about Oklahoma State’s chances this year, and if so, you can go here where real sportswriters actually did journalistic things to help you plan for the upcoming season. I can only share that I like their new uniforms.

#20 – North Carolina

Nobody at North Carolina cares about their football team. To them, football is that thing that happens to keep them occupied until basketball season starts, and then they get really excited to be superior to Duke in every imaginable way. They should get excited about that, because they are.

#21 – Baylor

I believe that I’ve made my feelings on sexual assault relatively clear, so all I really have to say at this point is fuck Baylor.

#22 – Oregon

Oregon’s football program is impressive because they somehow manage to squander the vast resources donated by Phil Knight and Nike by not sealing the deal more frequently. They’re always entertaining to watch, except for those one or two games a year where it’s like they’re playing a season of NCAA football (RIP) and the PS3 just decides that you aren’t going to win. Yes, I know that the newest PlayStation is the PS4, but the PS3 fit the reference better. I don’t need your grief, okay?

#23 – Louisville


#24 – UCLA

Sweet Christ 25 teams is a lot. I now understand why the guy that inspired this post seemingly never did this again. I’m on hour three of working on this god forsaken post. Yes, it’s taken three hours to produce this steaming pile of garbage. That’s what UCLA fans will likely say 3-4 times during the course of this season, because I don’t envision them being able to win all of the following games, if any; Texas A&M, BYU, Stanford, Washington State, Utah, and USC.

#25 – Florida

More rape, but this time with acquittal! Current media reports are celebrating that star WR Antonio Callaway wasn’t found to have committed sexual assault through a university review process. In case you haven’t read the details of the case, the ruling in his favor came because the girl couldn’t prove that she was too drunk to consent, and that Callaway said that he didn’t initiate the sex because he was too high to be interested in sex. Yep. Welcome to college football in 2016. I’m not sure whose feces Jim McElwain is going to have to eat to make this one go away, but hopefully he’ll be doing so somewhere south of #25 by at the latest week #7.

Honorable Mention – Nebraska Cornhuskers

I just finished the Bataan Death March of blog posts and then I added one? Why would I do that? Because I am a Nebraska Cornhuskers fan, and I therefore feel like I deserve punishment. The Bo Pelini era came to a sad, but necessary, end prior to last year and we were entered into the Mike Riley era. I chose the words “entered into” because it felt a bit like the uninvited intercourse that I mentioned several times above. For publicly proclaiming that Pelini had to go because of his inability to win the big games and bring home titles, Mike Riley certainly seemed like the worst possible replacement. His inaugural season was some sort of biblical test of the collective spirit of the state of Nebraska. If you think it wasn’t a test of biblical proportions, I can promise you that Husker fans uttered “Why, Jesus?” more than they ever have in their entire lives. I could recap many of the things that happened last season, but my masochism stops at cutting myself and auto-erotic asphyxiation, so I cannot venture beyond that for those lowlights, but this season doesn’t leave me feeling inspired. Tommy Armstrong is still the quarterback, and he’s still running an offense that he isn’t suited to run. Hopefully we’ll see more of the mythical “he knows how to work with what he’s got” ability that Riley allegedly possesses, but I’m not holding my breath. Armstrong’s receiver corp is headed by Jordan Westerkamp, but from there it gets uninspiring. Ditto for the backfield, unless Terrell Newby did serious work in the offseason. The offensive line is disturbingly young, and the defensive line lost Maliek Collins and Vincent Valentine, offsetting the big improvements we should see in the linebackers. The secondary will depend on which Nate Gerry shows up this season. Add to that the tragic loss of Sam Foltz, and we’re left with a sad stew of mediocrity from whence I predict continued sadness. Our recruiting classes are shaping up nicely so far, but it will take a few years for those players to start producing wins with their talent. And I do believe that Riley is doing some very good things for the program, but keeping our eyes on the future ignores the pile of dog poop that we’re currently standing in, and these are the only shoes we’ve got until 2017.


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