The Amway (formerly USA Today) Coaches Poll used to carry a lot of weight as it was a significant chunk of the BCS formula to determine who got to play in those BCS games at the end of the year. This year however begins the era of the College Football Playoff, and with it the Coaches Poll is just something of a formality. Still it gives us an idea what the college football landscape might look like.
Each coach (or sports information director) has their own reasons and theories for how to rank the teams. Some are trying to plug their conferences. Others are trying to imagine how the season should unfold. Still others are going on what they saw from these teams last year.
So here is the poll, with first place votes in parentheses.
Amway Coaches Poll
1. Florida State (56)
3. Oklahoma (3)
4. Oregon (1)
6. Ohio State (1)
8. Michigan State
9. South Carolina (1)
17. Notre Dame
18. Arizona State
19. Ole Miss
20. Texas A&M
21. Kansas State
23. North Carolina
A couple of trends to note. There are no ‘mid-majors’ in the poll. All the schools are power conference teams. That being said the ACC managed only 3 teams in the poll. You would have expected one more (Duke?).
The top 4 deserve attention because of the new playoff system. Being top 10 has always been a ‘thing.’ Yet it is hard to put any weight into spots 20-25, because that’s where a lot of goofy stuff happens, particularly over the course of the season. You’ll notice that is also where North Carolina sits.
The Tar Heels are the only Coastal team in the poll, suggesting they should be the favorite. The ACC media thought differently, picking them fourth in that division.
This ranking for the Heels is based on several factors. One, they had a strong finish last year and return a number of offensive weapons who did that. Two, their non-conference schedule is beatable. Three, there is a clamor for an ACC Coastal team that can at least challenge Florida State. In this case, coaches put their eggs in the UNC basket. Four, this is as far as they think UNC can go.
It is tough to say if this is the ceiling or the floor for a flawed UNC team. It is young on the offensive line and keeps getting hit on the defensive line. I don’t care what kind of team you have, you are rooted in what happens on those lines.
In the end this poll is officially meaningless. It will not impact the season of any team on it or off it. That job is now up to the selection committee of the playoff.