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College football’s preseason Coaches Poll, featuring Bama and 24 other teams, is out

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The Tide start at No. 1, as expected. Here’s the full top 25 in a poll that doesn’t matter but is still fine to care about.

CFP National Championship presented by AT&T - Alabama v Georgia Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The first Coaches Poll of the 2018 college football season came out Thursday. Here’s the full preseason top 25, topped by the defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide:

  1. Alabama
  2. Clemson
  3. Ohio State
  4. Georgia
  5. Oklahoma
  6. Washington
  7. Wisconsin
  8. Miami
  9. Penn State
  10. Auburn
  11. Notre Dame
  12. Michigan State
  13. Stanford
  14. Michigan
  15. USC
  16. TCU
  17. Virginia Tech
  18. Missisippi State
  19. Florida State
  20. West Virginia
  21. Texas
  22. Boise State
  23. UCF
  24. LSU
  25. Oklahoma State

Also getting votes, and closest to the top 25: South Carolina, Florida, Oregon, Utah, Northwestern, Texas A&M, and Kansas State, among others.

The Coaches Poll doesn’t matter much, but no polls do until December, so there’s no reason not to lean in for now.

There are a million rankings systems floating around this sport. The first one that ultimately matters is the one the College Football Playoff selection committee puts out on the first Sunday in December. That determines who makes the Playoff and the New Year’s bowls. The committee puts out weekly rankings for a month before that, but even those aren’t binding in any way, as teams can leapfrog each other at the committee’s behest.

Until the committee rankings start coming around Halloween, the gold standard of polls is the AP Poll. That media ranking is the one you’ll see most commonly cited through about Week 8, by SB Nation, other media outlet, and teams themselves (unless some team is ranked higher in the Coaches Poll than the AP, in which case that could flip). The preseason AP doesn’t have much predictive value for the final rankings of any kind, either.

The Coaches Poll, run by USA Today and sponsored by Amway, is clowned on a lot for not really being a coaches poll. The majority of voters in this poll are really team PR directors, who sometimes wind up outing themselves as the true decision-makers.

So, no, the Coaches Poll isn’t important. The preseason Coaches Poll is extra, extra, extra unimportant. But the AP Poll isn’t out yet, and the Playoff rankings won’t be out for some time, so this is the most respected and legitimate human poll out right now. You should feel free to be furious if your team is underrated or your rival overrated in it.