NCAA Football News
The preseason AP poll was released on Saturday morning, joining the likes of SEC media days and the first day of fall camps in a string of many unofficial starts to the college football season.
But this one should be the last.
Alabama was the predictable No. 1, followed by Ohio State, Oregon, Stanford and Georgia. If those rankings look familiar, that's because they are: The AP Top Five was identical to that of the coaches poll.
In fact, as ESPN's Brett McMurphy pointed out, the same 25 teams graced each preseason, poll and 19 of them were in the same exact spot.
But there were still a couple of curious differences worth noting.
Despite just opening its own indoor athletic facility, Florida State can’t help but feel it’s the runt of the pack. According to David Hale of ESPN, even though the university spent $90 million on athletics last year it is still behind most of its local SEC competitors.
For example, both Alabama and Florida—two of Florida State’s main competitors on the recruiting trail—invested over $110 million in their respective sports. But here’s the catch: Nick Saban’s football team helps Crimson Tide athletics recoup the funds easily—Alabama garnered over $30 million from football tickets last year.
Of course, when your team is in the football-crazed SEC, is competing for a third national title in four seasons and has a stadium that can hold over 100,000 people, your athletic department tends to easily recoup its expenses.
The scary fact is Alabama got all this money from just tickets—not just conference revenue and TV broadcasts. But that’s not the only trick—Alabama has luck on its side.
Tuscaloosa is close enough to its main markets to get fans in the stands. Campus is just an hour’s distance from Birmingham, arguably the college football capital of the world. Montgomery is roughly two hours away. And even though Memphis is three hours away, it is actually about two hours closer to Tuscaloosa than the home of Volunteer Nation in Knoxville.
Alabama gets the extra push in dollars from ticket sales because many of its fans are in large cities that are close enough to Tuscaloosa that a trip isn’t a burden.
In Tallahassee, it’s another story—Florida State actually has to rely on the TV markets because the fans are too dispersed. The Jacksonville market is not only a solid three hours away, but is a Florida Gator market. The Gators, after all, play Georgia in the city every year.
The closest major market to the west is Mobile, which is solid territory for both Alabama and Auburn.
That’s why FSU has to catch up and then get ahead. Great games must be played in Tallahassee, both for viewership and for the fans to make the trip to Doak Campbell Stadium. In 2012, Jimbo Fisher’s team hosted Clemson and Florida, but the Seminoles also hosted two FCS schools—Murray State and Savannah State.
That’s why Florida State should pressure the NCAA to allow a more dynamic and thrilling conference schedule to the Seminoles—one that would scrap the ACC divisions while keeping the Championship Game.
Brian Favat of BC Interruption came up with an excellent idea to bring more important games to the members of each ACC fan base.
Favat’s system would remove the aforementioned confusing Atlantic and Coastal labels and have each ACC team face its main rivals. Each team would play nine (not eight) games, boasting five great games against in-conference rivals. The other four games would rotate between the eight remaining conference opponents, ensuring each full-time member in the ACC plays each other in a home-and-home series over four years.
Out of all the teams, the Seminoles would benefit the most from Favat’s system.
Favat recommends that FSU play Miami, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Louisville annually. The Seminoles already play Miami and Clemson annually (they will play Louisville annually once Maryland joins the Big Ten). The Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech games, though, will only occur twice over the next 12 years.
These are the games that fans would pay to see—especially Virginia Tech. Combine a stronger nine-game in-conference schedule, and add Florida. The Seminoles already have 10 games taken care of each year, and will already play Notre Dame from time to time. Jimbo Fisher’s team should have a better strength of schedule (say, like the 2014 schedule) and will get more fans in Doak.
When Jimbo Fisher first became head coach, a lot of shirts said “Take Doak Back.” It’s about time the fans have games that make them want to go back.
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Die-hard Texas fans may take their AP ranking as a slap in the face. But it's time for a wake-up call in Austin.
Despite returning an NCAA-best 19 starters, including the most experienced quarterback in the Big 12 from a nine-win team, the AP voters have the Texas Longhorns as the No. 15 best team in the country in their preseason poll.
The low ranking for Texas, usually one of the traditional powerhouses in college football, shows that both coaches and the media have completely lost confidence in Mack Brown to get the most out of his players. And rightfully so.
Last year, the Longhorns started the season ranked No. 15 in both polls but were ranked No. 23 in the AP Poll and unranked in the Coaches Poll going into the bowl season. In 2011, the Longhorns were ranked No. 24 in the preseason Coaches Poll but finished unranked in both polls.
After three consecutive disappointing seasons, Brown isn't getting the benefit of the doubt from the voters that he's used to anymore.
There is one voter that has the Longhorns ranked high this year and that's Phil Steele. He picked Texas fourth nationally in his preseason poll.
But he also says that Mack Brown is the hot seat more so than any other coach in college football. And that could be a sign of things to come as the No. 1 coach on his hot seat list has been fired each of the last five years.
Since winning the Big 12 in 2009 and appearing in the BCS National Championship game, the Longhorns have had three disappointing seasons with just five, eight and nine wins. While some fans relish the opportunity for their teams to win eight or nine games, people in Austin, Texas are different.
They expect greatness. And with a traditionally great recruiting class, they should get it. But the Longhorns haven't been in serious contention for a Big 12 title since the Colt McCoy era.
While they did finish third in the Big 12 last season, the Longhorns got stomped by co-champions Kansas State and Oklahoma by 18 and 42 points respectively. They haven't beaten either of those teams since 2009.
It's a "what have you done for me lately" world in college football, and the Longhorns haven't done enough to earn the respect of voters this season. That's why they're only getting a No. 15 despite 19 returning starters from a nine-win team.
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