How Accurate Is the Preseason Coaches’ Poll?

08/21/2009 § Leave a comment

Every year, in the weeks leading up to the season kickoff, the two major preseason polls are dissected and debated, challenged and chided, discussed and dismissed. After all, they’re meaningless until the games are played anyway, right?

Maybe not.

From 2006 (the first year of the current 10-team BCS structure) to 2008, 15 teams began the season ranked in the top 5 in the Coaches’ Poll. Of those 15, 10 have ended the season in a BCS bowl. Expand the range to the top 10, and 7 more teams join the list (57%). The further out we go, the fewer teams we add, which suggests that the poll is actually a pretty decent assessment of the teams’ relative strength for the upcoming season. Sure, there will be a few teams that surprise us (for better or worse), but it’s likely that of the 10 teams that make it to the BCS this year, 8 of them are ranked in the top 25 right now.

At least 3 of these 5 teams should make it to the BCS this year:

Florida
Texas
Oklahoma
USC
Alabama

Another 3 of these 5 will likely join them:

Ohio State
Virginia Tech
Penn State
LSU
Mississippi

Two more teams will come from the remaining 15:

Oklahoma State, Cal, Georgia, Oregon, Georgia Tech, Boise State, TCU, Utah, Florida State, North Carolina, Iowa, Nebraska, Notre Dame, BYU, Oregon State

In fact, considering that the coaches have voted a remarkable four teams from mid-major conferences into the top 25 this preseason, I believe that this list contains nine of this year’s BCS bowl teams.  Why not all ten?  Take another look–there are no Big East teams in the top 25.  Ouch.

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