We can read every magazine, listen to every podcast, and post on every message board all summer long, but until the first major poll of the season is released, nobody really knows who or what is going to drive the narrative of the upcoming college football season.
Last week, the first Amway Coaches Poll of the 2017 season was released. It gave us some insight as to how some of the nation’s coaches — or Sports Information Directors — felt about the teams heading into kickoff weekend in a couple of weeks. It also had me looking back at last season’s AP Poll and combing for numbers that meant something.
Here are some of the numbers I pulled and some interesting tidbits to go along with them.
2016 AP Poll
The number of teams that appeared in both top ten of both the 2016 preseason AP Poll and the Final AP Poll. Four teams — LSU, Stanford, Notre Dame and Tennessee -- all failed to live up to their preseason expectations. Notre Dame failed to break .500.
The number of Big Ten teams in the top ten of the 2016 preseason AP Poll (Ohio State and Michigan).
The number of Big Ten teams in the top ten of the final AP Poll of the 2016 season (Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan and Wisconsin). That’s twice as many as any other conference and four times that of the SEC.
2017 Amway Coaches Poll
This is also the number of Big Ten teams in the top ten of the first Amway Coaches Poll of the 2017 season. Don’t bother looking — it’s the same four teams that finished in the top ten of the last AP Poll.
This is the total number of points both Michigan State and Maryland received in the poll. For those who don’t know how it works, each coach who votes submits a ballot of 25 teams ranked 1-25. The first place team gets 25 points, second place gets 24, etc. D.J. Durkin and Mark Dantonio both have ballots. Reaching into my “No shit, Sherlock” file, it’s looks like Durkin was the only person to mention Maryland on his ballot, while Dantonio was the only one to mention Michigan State on his.
But this is where it gets weird. If you’re going to play homer as a coach, why not go all in? I mean, Mark Dantonio’s team won three games last season. But in 2017, he feels like they are the 25th-best team in the land? Why not 24th and get yourself 2 points? As long as you’re putting yourself out there, why not go for a cool 25 points and submit your team as No. 1?
This is the number of Big Ten coaches who voted in the Coaches Poll.
This is the number of Big Ten coaches who vote in the Coaches Poll who are named Kirk Ferentz. And that tells me something. Let’s be honest, I read the comments you people write. I know the outlook and expectations heading into the season. “Seven wins would be a success!” Yet someone — maybe several someones — said “No, Iowa might not suck. They might not suck at all.” So Iowa has that going for it.
This is the total number of Big Ten teams not mentioned in either the Top 25 of the Coaches Poll or the “Others Receiving Votes” category. Three of those teams — Illinois, Purdue and Rutgers — should not come as a surprise to anyone who owns a television or computer. The one team left out of the conversation that did surprise me was Indiana. I think the Hoosiers could be the surprise team in the Big Ten East in 2017.
This is the number of teams who finished in the Top 11 of the final Amway Coaches Poll of 2016 who do not appear in the first Amway Coaches Poll of 2017. That’s right, the top eleven teams are still the top eleven teams, just in a slightly different order. So all of those guys you saw get drafted from Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson and Michigan (34 players combined from those four schools) just a couple of months ago apparently meant very little to the success of their respective teams. Good to know.