The AP Poll has long been derided for a perceived narrow focus on traditional powers of years past and various regional biases, where often these pre-season polls have too extreme an impact on how a season is determined. The implementation of the Playoff Committee has lessened that impact, and now the Poll functions more as a vehicle to determine what number broadcasters put next to team names in their score box. Even if not directly determining National Championships, the AP Poll still carries a lot of weight in driving the narrative of the season: which games matter, which teams matter, which results are deemed “quality,” etc. This season I’ll be breaking down the AP Poll each week with an eye on which voters have lost their minds and which teams are improperly rated. Hopefully we’ll be looking at the Horned Frogs position within the rankings as the season rolls along.
The first poll of the season is often the most difficult to decipher. Having no actual performance to review, voters come with many different approaches to filling out a ballot: projecting how the season will play out, making assumptions on roster and coaching talent, referencing prior years’ performance. Given that no one knows anything yet, it’s generally hard to get too worked up over any of the voters’ choices, but let’s take a closer look.
#13 NC State Wolfpack - The hype train for the Wolfpack is so far off the tracks that neither Denzel Washington in Unstoppable nor Denzel Washington in Taking of Pelham 123 could slow it down. Yes, Devin Leary returns at QB - a very solid contributor with an incredible 35-5 TD-INT ratio in 2021. There’s not excellent reason to believe that performance can be matched or improved upon in 2022. The offense will have to replace three massive losses in 6th-overall NFL Draft pick OT Ikem Ekwonu, WR Emeka Emezie, and RB Zonovan Knight. NC State will lose multiple games it “shouldn’t” this season, perhaps starting Week 1 at East Carolina or Week 3 vs. Texas Tech.
#37 Kansas State - Is it possible Adrian Martinez is actually good and Scott Frost was just bad at using him at Nebraska? It’s a key question in the Big 12 race in 2022, and the mere possibility of that statement being true should have pushed the Wildcats closer to the Top 25. Only three voters included KSU in their ballot, two of which placed them at #25. Did everyone forget that RB Deuce Vaughn and DE Felix Anudike -Uzomah are back to wreak havoc for K-State? This squad is already scary and if Martinez is good...look out.
Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy), Action Network - This section is not meant to be reserved only for criticism, but also for praise of a bold call or to point out curiosities in a ballot. Brett is a very talented and respected name nationally, and I am certain he took this voting process seriously. With that said, I am curious as to the rationale for the Miami Hurricanes at #4. The implication here is that The U is a Playoff team, which would likely require wins in College Station and Clemson and the ACC Championship. Miami is certainly a Top-25 caliber team and returning QB Tyler Van Dyke is an ascending superstar, but Playoff-caliber is too rich for me. McMurphy also was the lowest of all voters on Notre Dame at #18, while being the highest voter for Air Force at #24 and the lone vote for Nebraska at #25.
- Alabama received no votes lower than #2, so no one went out on the limb to foresee a scenario where the Crimson Tide are outside of the National Championship game.
- Only 10 teams received any votes in the Top 4 (Bama, Ohio State, Georgia, Clemson, Texas A&M, Utah, Michigan, USC, and Miami). Will any team outside of this group reach the Playoff?
Pre-Season Coaches Poll
We should put even less importance on the role played by the Coaches Poll, and going forward we’ll likely ignore entirely, but just for fun since it’s pre-season, let’s take a gander. One could try to glean some devious scheme by the 66 FBS head coaches randomly selected for the voting panel each season to keep rivals ranked lower or prop up opponents to improve perceived strength of schedule, but that’s likely giving more thought to this poll than the voters themselves did. Sonny Dykes is one of those head coaches voting in this poll this season, and he did not vote his Horned Frogs in the Top 25, nor did any of the other voters in the poll…clearly a devious ploy to motivate the Frogs to earn its place into the ranking. Message received: chip meet shoulder, nobody believes in us, prove them wrong, etc.
The votes in the Coaches Poll are not public, so no specific voter to call out, however some coach selected Texas as #1 overall. The ‘Horns landed at #18 in the complete rankings, but somebody out there doesn’t just believe Texas is back but is in fact baaaaaaaaaccccckkkkkkkkk.