Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Haves

Here's my second big takeaway from reading the Athlon preview: the truly elite teams in college football are so far ahead of the rest that it's not even funny. Here's the magazine's preseason top 5, which will probably be very similar to the AP's when it comes out in August, and with which I wholeheartedly agree.

1. Florida
2. Oklahoma
3. Texas
4. USC
5. Ohio State

Florida is an easy choice, even though they lost Percy Harvin early. But think about who some of these other teams lost.

Oklahoma's offensive line, best in the nation last year, was gutted. Texas lost Brian Orakpo and Quan Cosby. USC lost Mark Sanchez and a bunch of dudes from their nasty defense. Ohio State lost Beanie Wells, Laurinaitis, Malcolm Jenkins, Marcus Freeman, and a couple good wideouts.

So even though these teams all suffered significant losses, they are still head and shoulders above everyone else. These aren't Jonathan Casillases and Kraig Urbiks they're losing without skipping a beat, they're All-Americans and first round draft picks. That's no disrespect to Casillas and Urbik, but the point is that nowadays, our best players are topping out at mid-level all-conference picks, and we're going to take a step back without them.

It's not just Wisconsin that doesn't come close to measuring up to these heavyweights. Here are Athlon's #6-#10: Alabama, Penn State, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss. None of those teams strike me as being able to beat any of the top 5 in a five-game series.

And it isn't going to change anytime soon, as these schools all had top-1o recruiting classes this year, per usual.

In many respects, this isn't unusual at all, as these schools all have tradition, regional advantages, and money. They've had down years or average stretches, yet are no strangers to the top 5. But I can't ever remember the disparity between the elite programs, the second-tier elite programs, and the solid programs being so great.