Sean Pendergast

Four Texas Schools Land in First College Football Coach's Top 25 Poll

Baylor is among four Texas schools in the preseason Top 25.
Baylor is among four Texas schools in the preseason Top 25. Photo by Jack Gorman
The calendar flips to August, and like late July in the NFL, early August id the time when college football training camps start up. The players are back on campus, the preview magazines are on the stands, and the smell of football in the air. Oh, and since it's 2022, let's add the transfer portal is open and the NIL money is flowing like wine.

One milestone on the preseason calendar happened yesterday, as we got our first Coach's Top 25 poll of the season. It has a lot of familiar names, sue upstart programs, and a decent amount of Texas flavor. Four schools in our great state made the cut — Texas A&M (7th), Baylor (10th), Texas (18th), and the University of Houston (25th)!

Here is the poll in its entirety with a few thoughts to follow:
1. Alabama (13-2)
2. Ohio State (11-2)
3. Georgia (14-1)
4. Clemson (10-3)
5. Notre Dame (11-2)
6. Michigan (12-2)
7. Texas A&M (8-4)
8. Utah (10-4)
9. Oklahoma (11-2)
10. Baylor (12-2)
11. Oklahoma State (12-2)
12. Oregon (10-4)
13. North Carolina State (9-3)
14. Michigan State (11-2)
15. Southern California (4-8)
16. Pittsburgh (11-3)
17. Miami (Fla.) (7-5)
18. Texas (5-7)
19. Wake Forest (11-3)
20. Wisconsin (9-4)
21. Kentucky (10-3)
22. Cincinnati (13-1)
23. Arkansas (9-4)
24. Mississippi (10-3)
25. Houston (12-2)

Also Receiving Votes: Iowa 248; Penn State 246; Tennessee 163; Brigham Young 152; Louisiana State 143; Auburn 98; Central Florida 55; North Carolina 34; San Diego State 25; Fresno State 21; Mississippi State 19; Florida 17; Utah State 12; Air Force 12; UCLA 10; Boise State 10; Appalachian State 10; Minnesota 6; South Carolina 5; Kansas State 4; Iowa State 3; Army 3; UL Lafayette 2; Southern Methodist 2; Purdue 2; Oregon State 2; Coastal Carolina 2; Texas-San Antonio 1; Louisville 1; Florida State 1.
And now, a few thoughts:

The SEC still rules the roost, but not quite as much as usual
There are no big surprises near the top. The top four teams include three schools who have become institutional symbols of the College Football Playoff (Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson) along with the defending national champion (Georgia). Alabama and Ohio State also have the top two candidates for the Heisman Trophy in 2022 with reigning Heisman winner Bryce Young of Alabama and Ohio State's C.J. Stroud. A closer look at the makeup of these 25 schools shows the following breakdown by conference:

SEC 6
ACC 5
Big Ten 4
Big XII 4
Pac-12 3
AAC 2
Independent 1

So the SEC still leads with the most programs in the Top 25, at six, but it's not as dominant an outlook as usual. Three of the schools are bunched up in the top seven, and the other three sneak in between 21st and 24th overall. It is worth noting that two of the Big XII entires — Texas and Oklahoma — are slated to move to the SEC in the next couple years.

Big brands still get a lot of love, even if they sucked last season
If you experienced a losing season last year, but still aspire to crack the Top 25, the lesson here is make sure that you are a BIG brand name school. Texas didn't even achieve bowl eligibility (5-7 record overall in 2021) and they're 18th in the preseason poll. The pollsters DO know Arch Manning isn't arriving until NEXT season, right? Also, USC (4-8 in 2021) was even worse than Texas last season, but the hire of new head coach Lincoln Riley and the transfer of former Oklahoma QB Caleb Williams has the pundits high on the Trojans. We shall see!

There are some really good programs with really shaky conference futures
I alluded to this dynamic above when I mentioned Oklahoma and Texas going to the SEC, but it's fascinating to look at this Top 25 and see how many schools face uncertain conference futures. Unless you're in the SEC or Big Ten, you're doing one of the following — moving to a new conference in the next couple years, hoping you get courted by the SEC or Big Ten, sitting around waiting for your conference to implode, or smoking a cigar and enjoying independence (what up, Notre Dame?). This might deserve its own post later this summer. Crazy times.

Who are the big names outside the Top 25 velvet rope?
I would say these are the most intriguing schools in the "Also Receiving Votes" category, with one sentence on why each school is intriguing:

27. PENN STATE
James Franklin is heading into his 9th season at Penn State. His program has peaked with a couple 11-2 seasons in 2017 and 2019, but they are 11-11 over the last two years, so the seat might be heating up in Happy Valley.

30. LSU
First season for Brian Kelly and his phony southern accent.
40. UCLA
They are tagging along to the Big Ten on USC's coattails, so let's see if Chip Kelly can make the Big Ten proud to have courted the Bruins.

44. SOUTH CAROLINA
Oklahoma transfer QB Spencer Rattler was forecasted to be a top ten pick in the 2022 NFL Draft this time last year, and now he finds himself slinging it around for the Gamecocks.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts the morning drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the pre-game and post game shows for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast