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Often we see a national title winner or contender start the next year in the top 5 or top 10. One big reason is that there are typically pieces of the team left over, maybe as few as 5 or 6 starters on each side of the ball, sometimes as many as 8 or 9 or even 10 returning starters on one or both units. And where starters are missing, there is often the talented back up that we saw in smaller doses, that is expected to step in.
Usually there is a bit of a track record of success in the years leading up to the title as well.
Because of these things, national title winners often start the next year ranked pretty high.
Auburn is an unusual title winner. I'm not sure of a recent title winner that lost quite as much as Auburn did. Not only did we lose around 17 or more starters, we also lost several other role and back up players.
Going into 2011, we don't have any of the key carry-over characteristics that most title teams start out with the next year. We don't have those 7 or 8 returning starters. We don't have many (a few, but not many) of the back ups that were obviously ready to start for any other team in the country.
For the start of next year, Auburn, in many ways, will be fielding a brand new team, nearly top to bottom, 1 through 3 on the depth chart at some positions.
So if your a prognosticator, know-it-all media member trying to rank next years teams, there isn't much tangible reason to put our Tigers in the poll at all. We should be a "wait and see", considering it's almost an entirely new team.
However, and here is where I'm going with all of this.....we seem to have earned some "program" respect above and beyond "team" respect. Meaning, if we had a lot of parts of the same "team" coming back, then the respect would be easy and obvious for the prognosticators. But the team isn't coming back, and in a lot of ways, only the name "Auburn" on the jersey will be the same as last years team.
Yet, there we are, in many preseason "polls" or rankings. This staff as gained quite a bit of respect in the last two years. Enough that garners us "the benefit of the doubt" when it comes to fielding a quality team. Most of those who did the rankings below aren't even sure who the players will be, but they feel confident enough in our staff and their recruiting that they think we'll be competitive.
ESPN - #17
Sports Illustrated - #14
National Champs.net - #11
College Football news - #26
Collegefootball.about.com - #18
CBS Sports - #15
Rivals - #6 (based on Cam and Fairley returning).
Orlando Sentinel - #24
So there we are, in multiple preseason rankings, based almost entirely on two things...Michael Dyer and our coaching staff. Considering our own coaches (let alone clueless writers) probably don't even know half of the definite starters on either side of the ball, that's some pretty decent respect.
PS. As those same people consider our schedule and then try to predict our record, some of them are likely to drop us down, assuming our record in the end will not reflect a Top 25 season. So this could change going forward. We'll see.
This post has been edited 3 times, most recently by jadennis on 3/29/2011 at 11:39 AM
Strive for perfection in everything we do. Take the best that exists and make it better. When it does not exist, create it.
If you have to ask why I love Auburn so much...never mind
kick 'em in the ass, big blue.
My freshman year at Auburn saw our team go 9-2 with Pat Sullivan winning the Heisman Award in 1971. No one gave the team of '72 a chance to win much of anything. The "Incredibles" went 10-1 beating Bama in the "Punt-Bama-Punt" game, winning the Gator Bowl against Colorado, and the only loss at Baton Rouge. Let the world keep telling the Tigers they won't win 6 games, and they might show you.
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