Steele places USC behind the 8-ball
Phil Steele’s very popular and highly controversial preseason top-25 has been unveiled, and lo and behold, the Trojans appear in the eighth spot. Based on some of the feedback, most are pleased to see the Empire in the top-10, but it doesn’t go without the “overrated” whispers that have become the norm each summer.
I hate to be the one to rain on parades, but as much as the Steele ranking is pleasing to the eye, we should see it for what it is. A pole position of eight is acceptable, especially after the woeful finish a year ago. But Steele shouldn’t be viewed as an early assessment of power, and programs slotted in order aren’t expected to move up or down as the season rolls along. With what I’ve gathered from the Steele rankings over the years, and having tried to make sense of them, it is an end predictor, with schedule being a factor in the equation.
The good would be that USC is expected to be a top 10 team by January of 2011. But if you are projected at No. 8 to end the season, you’re also not considered much of a title contender. Steele ranks Oklahoma No. 1 and Ohio State second. Defending champion Alabama placed third. For this to happen, the Sooners and Buckeyes finish the regular season undefeated, and though the Tide win the SEC, they will have stumbled somewhere along the way.
Only three Pac 10 programs appear in his top-25. USC is joined by Oregon at No. 10 and Arizona squeaks in at No. 25. Notre Dame ranks sixteenth, which is a step back from their top-10 projection last year. I don’t own the Steele magazine, but ESPN’s Pat Forde listed Steele’s complete rankings as follows:
- Ohio State
- Boise State
- North Carolina
- Virginia Tech
- Notre Dame
- Penn State
- Florida State
- South Carolina
- West Virginia