Never in Last 10 Years Has Preseason No. 1 Won Championship

Submitted by BursleyHall82 on January 10th, 2017 at 1:54 PM

(EDIT: I updated this when someone pointed out that Oklahoma was the preseason No. 1 in 2011.) This is pretty remarkable: Never in the last 10 years has the preseason AP No. 1 team ended up winning the championship. Moral of the story: You don't want the voters to love you in August.

Here's the list from the last 10 years:


Preseason No. 1: Alabama

Champion: Clemson


Preseason No. 1: Ohio State

Champion: Alabama


Preseason No. 1: Florida State

Champion: Ohio State


Preseason No. 1: Alabama

Champion: Florida State


Preseason No. 1: USC

Champion: Alabama


Preseason No. 1: Oklahoma

Champion: Alabama


Preseason No. 1: Alabama

Champion: Auburn


Preseason No. 1: Florida

Champion: Alabama


Preseason No. 1: Ohio State

Champion: Florida


Preseason No. 1: USC

Champion: LSU



January 10th, 2017 at 1:58 PM ^

crazy to me that Ohio State was ranked #1 in the 2008 pre-season poll after getting hammer-smashed by LSU in the title game the year before and stomp-mauled the year before that by Florida.


January 10th, 2017 at 1:59 PM ^

If the voters would just consistently put Alabama at #1, they'd be 4/10. Lesson here is not that #1 never wins; it's that most of the time, Bama is the smart bet.


January 10th, 2017 at 2:00 PM ^

it's going to be a crapshoot. if michigan and osu played 10 times, it would probably be a 5-5. if clemson and alabama played 10 times, probably the same.

if the media loves you in the preseason, you're more likely to be a good team and put yourself in the conversation for playing in that crapshoot, though.


January 10th, 2017 at 3:36 PM ^

If 'Bama and Clemson played ten times, 'Bama would win eight of them just because of their advantage in sheer talent. Fortunately for Clemson, they had the advantage at the most important position on the field (QB), and Dabo and staff pulled off a masterful coaching job (coupled with the fact that changing offensive coordinators a week before the NCG was probably not one of Saban's best decisions). 


January 10th, 2017 at 4:30 PM ^

Perhaps not that many. Maybe just a majority. But my point is that, on the whole, 'Bama had more talent and depth than Clemson. Yes, Hurts is a freshman, but Saban has never really had an elite QB. In fact, his entire system is designed to obviate the need for an elite QB. Clemson won because Deshaun Watson played lights-out and because the stars aligned for Dabo to out-coach Saban, owing in no small part to the fact that 'Bama was breaking in a new offensive coordinator on the eve of the NCG. 


January 10th, 2017 at 2:04 PM ^

What would be helpful/more interesting is to see where the champion was originally ranked.  For instance, what was the farthest back anyone's come?  Probably not outside the top 10? 20?

Preseason polls are pretty useless when it seems like a lot of the time it's just a recoronation of the previous champ (which they had gotten wrong the year before).


January 10th, 2017 at 2:39 PM ^

I agree - what would really add to this analysis is the weekly tracking of each team. There used to be a great site called PollTracker (which I think was resurrected in some form) that would let you follow the weekly progressions of each team down to the individual voter. I would also like to see the deepest pit anyone has climbed out of in order to eventually come back in the rankings and win it all. 

Evil Empire

January 10th, 2017 at 2:17 PM ^

Not sure why.

I looked at Florida's season that year.  Talking heads jabbered about our team not playing any games outside of Michigan.  Florida played 10 games in the state of Florida that year, including the BCS title game. Their forays outside of the state:

At Arkansas (finished 5-7)

At Tennessee (finished 5-7)

At Vanderbilt (finished 7-6)

The SEC championship game in Atlanta against then #1 Alabama


January 10th, 2017 at 2:29 PM ^

The last 4 years the returning champ has been preseason number 1... Thats pretty lazy and probably part of the reason they are inaccurate... 


That or the fact that football is weird. Ill go with football being weird. 


January 10th, 2017 at 2:40 PM ^

Bama this year went 14-1 and was a second away from winning it all. OSU last year went 12-1 and finished ranked 4th. FSU went undefeated and made the playoff where they lost to Oregon. And Bama was poised to play for the title until the crazy last second kick return against Auburn.


January 10th, 2017 at 2:38 PM ^

1981 Preseason No. 1: Michigan (loss to Wisconsin in Madison in opener, 14-21, finished 9-3)

1981 Champion: Clemson


1989 Preseason No. 1: Michigan (loss to Notre Dame 19-24 in Ann Arbor in opener, finished 10-2)

1989 Champion: Miami (FL)


January 10th, 2017 at 3:05 PM ^

What this says to me is that frequently, though not always, this year's champion ends up being next year's pre season #1. And champions rarely repeat.