Hi folks, SF Gator here, and I'd like to thank NSC and MDG for giving me the opportunity to represent as a guest contributer to the FSFB. The Barkboard has come alive of late with the various preseason rankings that have been released by magazines, websites, and other media, placing the Bulldogs securely in the top-25. The preseason mags begin to heat up during the summer, and the two that 'really matter,' the AP and the Coaches polls, both are released latter than that; nevertheless, the post-spring workouts have yielded college football fans and pundits a variety of musings, which have manifested in rankings like the following:
ATHLON has released teams in its top 25 once-a-day, starting auspiciously with the Bulldogs at #25;
CBS Sportsline pundit' n' hack Dennis Dodd actually didn't suck for the first time ever, placing the Bulldogs at #24;
ESPN has their man Mark Schlabach pegging Fresno State at a solid #21, with opponent Rutgers nowhere in sight (like Dodd, but unlike Athlon who has them at #22);
So, given this mayhem, what conclusions can we draw? Well, obviously the Bulldogs are getting some preseason love, both from the nice lil' pasting of the Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech in the Boise Bowl and the accompanying 9-4 record, and return of guys who played well and returning health of guys who should play well next year. Some of our opponents this year are in interesting positions; Boise isn't ranked by anyone, and neither is Cal Los Angeles; Rutgers is only ranked by Athlon; and everyone has Wisconsin in the top 18 at least. It's likely those positions will shift during the season so that some other teams do find themselves ranked when they play the 'Dogs.
At this point, the Bulldogs have found themselves ranked at one point or another at least once since 2001, but haven't managed to go preseason to postseason ranked all the way though by any major poll. Still, it seems likey that the Bulldogs should start the season against Rutgers in the top-25, which is important since any media will represent the scores of all top-25 teams with more detail (like a write-up or Sports Center highlight) than even a really good or well-known outside of the top-25. It's also good because it's harder to move up from unranked to ranked really high if you weren't thought of well to begin with. Also, playing the likes of Idaho, Utah State, and NM State each and every year (and often one after the other) means there will be some attentionless days in October or November when a ranking at least draws attention to the fact that you mopped the floor with somebody. And lastly, the fact that pundits are paying attention in mid-May means that it's likely that they'll pay attention in Mid-August.
Keep playing well, and someday the Bulldogs could find themselves ranked perennially, and viewed as a regular favorite for a WAC and Mid Major title. The powers-that-be recently scoffed heartily while drinking champagne at the idea of a playoff, so we'll be living with our present system for a while to come- meaning, a non BCS team that finishes in the top-12 is guaranteed a BCS bid, and the impression that the Bulldogs make this year will be an important one. Starting high and losing (once and only once) against a badass may not be a kiss of death for the Bulldogs making a BCS bowl, and if the initial impression for the Bulldogs is good enough and the team does well enough, a BCS bowl is a realistic probability. But keep in mind that BYU is ranked and ranked higher than the Bulldogs in every single one of those polls. and the Cougars don't have to play Wisconsin or Rutgers.
one more rankings note: I'm absolutely amazed at the way these rankings folks have ignored UC Berkeley this year. Normally, the pundits overrate them tremendously (I'm looking at you, Mel Brooks look alike Lee Corso); but this year, after losing their last six regular season games and going 7-6, everyone has stayed clear. Okay, everyone who has ever read anything i've ever written or heard me speak in my life knows my feelings toward UC Berkeley are like Cap'n Ahab's toward that damn whale; but I honestly can't see this year's UC Berkeley football team winning fewer than 8 games. I don't buy the QB controversy thing, Tedford'll take care of it, most coaches can handle having two solid options at QB, a solid but sometimes shaky senior and a rising star underclassman, the only guy who couldn't was Dirk Koetter and he was the exception that proves the rule.
Look, not to harp on this, but they open at home against Michigan State, a few people's sleeper but i just cant see them beating the Bears at home to open the season, there is too much speed, to many experienced upperclassmen and the coaching is too good. This is practically the same team that beat the SEC West champion Volunteers to open last season. Then they go to a depleted Wash State, then go to Maryland to face Fridge's Terps, which'll be a tough one but, look, they are not losing that game, i don't think. Maryland isn't as fast on offense as UC Berkeley, they just aren't, even at home. They'll open 3-0 and everyone'll jump on their bandwagon like they did in the last 5 years, and former Fresno State QB Jeff "the Douche" Tedford will be everyone's September coach of the year. Guys like Dodd, Mendel and Schlabach will jump on that bandwagon in seconds. I'm just saying, y'all saw it here first.