There are few things I cannot stand more than preseason rankings, but everybody seems to eat them up and it’s unlikely they’ll ever go away. Truth be told, there isn’t a whole lot of harm in writers or bloggers ranking what they believe are the top 25 teams in the country before a game has been played (I’ll release my own when we get closer to the season), but I’d like to see some of the official polls—i.e. the AP and Coaches’ Polls—wait a few weeks into the season to release their first rankings until they see the teams take the field a few times like the Harris Poll does.
When you head into the season ranked in the top five or top ten, you automatically have an advantage over others ranked lower or not ranked at all. If three teams finish undefeated and two begin the year with a top five ranking and the other begins the year unranked, who do you think is going to the championship game? All teams should open the year with as much of a shot at the title as every other team in the country regardless of what happened 20 years ago, five years ago or even a year ago. That’s part of the problem with the BCS, but that’s another chapter of the story.
That said, the Florida State Seminoles could be the beneficiary of a lofty preseason ranking if some of the writers’ and bloggers’ preseason polls are to be believed. SI.com’s Andy Staples ranked the Seminoles #9 in his post-spring top 25 rankings. Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com ranked FSU 8th in his post-spring top 25 rankings, while ESPN’s College Football Live unveiled its preseason top 25 (as voted on by a 38-person panel of analysts, hosts, bloggers, etc.) with the Seminoles ranked #6.
Others have ranked the Seminoles even higher, which begs the question, ‘Are the Seminoles ready for a top-ten ranking, let alone the top-five?’
In the vein of what I was writing at the beginning of the article, it’s ridiculous to assume we know how good these teams are before we see them take the field on game day. Most know, or should realize, that preseason rankings are based on how teams performed in the spring as well as expectations based on how they performed last season and what they have coming back; no team has earned its preseason ranking and it’s up to them to do so.
Based on the spring and considering what FSU has coming back, they’re certainly capable of earning the lofty preseason hype. Quarterback E.J. Manuel has received rave reviews in the spring and the running game should click with Chris Thompson, Jermaine Thomas and Ty Jones back. The offensive line wasn’t full-go during the spring due to injuries, but it’s expected to be strong. The receivers are back, giving Manuel some experienced targets, although there has to be more big plays. On defense things are looking pretty good, too, especially in the secondary where Xavier Rhodes and Greg Reid should shine. Defensive coordinator Mark Stoops should be pleased with the progress this spring as the Seminoles are deep along the line and found players who can make plays on the field.
Not only are things looking up at the moment, Jimbo Fisher and his coaching staff brought in one of the best recruiting classes in the country. I’m not ready to anoint these Seminoles the second coming of the FSU teams of the 90s, but they look like they’re on as good a track as any in reaching that level of success.