The full rankings collected in this composite can be viewed with this Google spreadsheet. I've got eight sets of rankings collected, and certainly could've found more, but I didn't want to use anything that was put out before this year's spring games started just because I don't think you can really know all that much about any of those teams before then. As I explained over at Dr. Saturday back in March, these "pre-preseason" top 25s are really just kind of silly attention-getting exercises from pundits just looking for something to write about in a major dead period, and I'd much rather use rankings dished out after we've actually had something (even if it's just practice and a few meaningless exhibition games) to look at. Which is not to say that all of those pundits made dramatic changes from their "pre-preseason" ballots to their more recent revisions, but at least they've got a little more actual evidence or evidence-like substance upon which to base their predictions.
With these eight sets of rankings rolled into one, the composite looks like this:
4. Southern California
5. Virginia Tech
7. Ohio State
8. Ole Miss
9. Oklahoma State
10. Penn State
13. Boise State
16. Georgia Tech
17. Texas Christian
18. Florida State
19. North Carolina
20. Notre Dame
23. Brigham Young
25. Oregon State
Others receiving votes: Cincinnati, Iowa, Texas Tech, East Carolina, Rutgers, Michigan State, Illinois, West Virginia, Miami, Pittsburgh, UCLA, Houston, Clemson.
Here are the eight sets of rankings included and when they were issued:
SI.com (Andy Staples): April 28
Athlon: May 1-June 4
CBS Sportsline (Dennis Dodd): May 6
ESPN.com (Mark Schlabach): May 15
Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Tony Barnhart): May 15
Lindy's: Second half of May to June 9
The Sporting News (Matt Hayes): May 22-ish
Phil Steele: May 27-June 9
So here's what jumps out at me:
· Not terribly surprisingly, Florida is a unanimous #1 in all of these rankings. But I wouldn't get too big a head about that, Gator fans: USC was a unanimous #1 in 2007, too -- just four short months before they lost at home to Stanford.
· The next three spots are pretty uniform, too -- Texas is #2 in all of the rankings but one, Oklahoma is #3 in all but two, and USC is #4 in all but three of the rankings. The rest of the top 10s mostly feature some combination of Virginia Tech, Alabama, Ohio State, Ole Miss, and Oklahoma State.
· Georgia Tech places higher than Georgia in all but two of the rankings, but in the final tally the Dawgs end up two slots higher than the Yellow Jackets (#14 compared to #16). The reason? Most of the rankings that put Georgia Tech higher have UGA just one or two slots below GT, but the two that have Georgia higher (Athlon and Phil Steele) have the Dawgs way ahead: Athlon has Georgia #14 and Tech #22, while Phil Steele has the Dawgs at #13 and leaves the Jackets out of the top 25 entirely (they're actually at #28 behind South Florida and Southern Miss). Just another reason to worship Steele, I guess.
· Then again, Steele might just be nuts: He's got Notre Dame at #7, the only pollster who has the Irish higher than the low teens (CBS and Lindy's left Notre Dame completely out of their top 25s). He also doesn't have any love for Oregon, who wasn't any lower than #15 anywhere else and made it into three top 10s. Then again, the purpose of Steele's top 25/40 is perhaps a little different from the others -- his is skewed a little bit more toward trying to predict where all the teams will be at the end of the year than how good they are at the very beginning.
· Other controversial teams include a pair of teams with terrific RBs but untested quarterbacks: LSU ranks as high as #6 (Lindy's) and as low as #17 (Athlon and Steele), while California ranges between #9 (Steele again) and #23 (Tony Barnhart). Texas Christian appeared as high as #11 in SI.com's list but was left off of Athlon's entirely.
· If these rankings are to be taken at face value, most of the conference races appear to be pretty cut-and-dried: Florida, USC, Virginia Tech,
· It'll also be a blah yeah for the Big East, which has zero teams in the composite top 25, and for Conference USA, in which only two of 12 teams got any votes at all.
(This composite will be updated periodically as new preseason rankings pop up from credible sources; if you know of any that I haven't included, e-mail me here.)