By Drew Markol, TSN Contributor - Archive - Email
Nobody asked me, but...
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - It's fun to poke holes at the folks who make the predictions once we see what actually happens on the field.

A few months back in this space, I railed about the fact that the last thing college football needs is preseason rankings.

Yes, I said then and I say now, they do make the preseason fun and provide some fodder to spice things up. But, on the whole, they are not fair to the players, the ones who matter, the ones trying to break into the rankings.

That's why you have to feel a little sorry for a bunch of teams that were nowhere to be found back on Aug. 18 when the Associated Press released its preseason rankings (and it's not just the AP's fault; they have the best-known poll, so they get picked on today, but many, many, many other folks put out preseason rankings and were just as wrong).

Let's start with who was in in August when they should have been out. Back then, and we're only talking two months ago, the AP had Michigan State, Texas, Nebraska, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma State and TCU all in its preseason Top 25.

Today, none of those six are anywhere to be found in the latest Top 25. But, because of their brand names, the Nebraskas, Michigan States and Texasas of the world, annually find their way into the preseason rankings, taking away spots from teams more worthy.

That's just not fair.

Now, let's look at the other side - the teams that were shunned that have cleared the snub from two months ago and made themselves viable. All told, there are seven teams in the AP top 25 this week that were nowhere to be found in August.

They are Ohio, Texas A&M, Rutgers, Texas Tech, Mississippi State, Oregon State and Notre Dame.

Call them the surprise teams across the land.

The biggest surprise of that group? Well, that depends on whom you ask. A good case could be made for the Ohio Bobcats. Just look what they're up against.

What do they say to a potential recruit who also is looking at Ohio State and Michigan? Powerhouse teams that are on television all the time and have the facilities and money to go up against anybody.

Come to Ohio U., and, uh, well. The Bobcats are a team nobody heard of, a team nobody sees play unless you go to their stadium, a team making big noise. They should be cheered for what they're doing.

As should Oregon State. Yes, Oregon State. The Beavers have played fourth fiddle to Oregon seemingly forever. Now, Oregon State has worked its way from obscurity to No. 7 in the country.

What they've also done is make their upcoming annual tussle with the Ducks a national story, not just a statewide one.

And what of Rutgers? That team can play, flat out play.

Also, let us not forget Louisiana Tech. Sure, they were really good at women's basketball long ago, but football? How cool is that?

Mississippi State, playing in the all-powerful SEC, has risen up this year. Will it last? That's a question for another day. For today, let the Bulldogs enjoy it.

And last but not least, let's look at the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.

For years and years, Notre Dame has been part of the group of "haves" who always found themselves in the preseason rankings no matter what kind of team they had.

This year, that wasn't the case. The Irish were left out in the cold for a change and now look at them.

The games, the really tight ones in the closing seconds that they always seemed to lose, they're now winning. They've jumped from nowhere to No. 5 in the nation. Now, that could all change come Saturday when Notre Dame travels to No. 8 Oklahoma.

But right at this moment, all of the teams enjoying their time in the sun, their time in the rankings, should just celebrate it. They've finally been recognized.

In a perfect world, the AP (and others) rankings would be like the BCS rankings. They wouldn't come out with their rankings until the season started to unfold, not two weeks before it started.

OK, I'll get off this soapbox (for now at least). But it still drives me mad.

Drew Markol has been a sportswriter and columnist for several newspapers in the Philadelphia area for more than 25 years.

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