2006 Ohio State
This year that team is Georgia.
Preseason “IT” teams typically possess the following characteristics -
1. Ten plus win seasons the year before
2. A convincing win over their last bowl opponent
3. Top 5 ranking the previous season
4. A “celebrity/genius” coach
This is not to say any of these choices are necessarily illogical, just that they are lacking in any particular imagination. For the first three numerical characteristics, the prior seasons for the past 6 “IT” teams were –
As for the fourth characteristic, there is perhaps no coach (other than Pete Carroll) who meets the “celebrity/genius” test more among the media types right now than Mark Richt. After all, it was his daring “celebration” tactic that turned the entire 2007 season, at least according to pundits like Stewart Mandel. Besides Carroll, Stoops and Tressel easily fit this prototype for the other preseason “IT” teams.
The actual track record of recent “IT” teams is decidedly mixed. With the exceptions of USC in 2004 and 2007, the “IT” team of the past 5 years has ended up the LOSER to the future mythical national champion in the BCS title game. By year –
2003 Oklahoma loses to preseason 15th LSU in BCS title game.
2004 USC wins BCS title
2005 USC loses to preseason 2nd Texas in BCS title game
2006 Ohio State loses to preseason 8th Florida in BCS title game
2007 USC wins bowl game, but preseason 2nd LSU beats Ohio State in BCS title game
Georgia’s support as the “IT” team of 2008 is decidedly more tepid than those that held the spot in the past 5 years. By number and percentage of 1st place votes in the Coaches poll –
2003 Oklahoma– 29 of 62, or 46.8%
2004 USC– 44 of 61, or 72.1%
2005 USC– 60 of 62, or 96.8%
2006 Ohio State - 28 of 63, or 44.4%
2007 USC – 45 of 60, or 75%
2008 Georgia – 22 of 61, or 36.1%
What is fairly remarkable to me as an SEC fan is a team in the conference getting the nod at all, despite (or maybe because of) the SEC actually winning the BCS title 3 of the last 5 years. Those 3 SEC title winners were preseason ranked 15th, 8th and 2nd, respectively.
But as noted, Georgia’s support is fairly slim, and merely 6 first place votes ahead of USC and Ohio State, both tied with 14 first place votes apiece.
Because, despite the fanfare of the World Wide Leader for the Dawgs, perhaps Georgia’s first place spot is deservedly tenuous.
Next – Is Georgia THAT good?