Courtesy of Syracuse.com, we learned today that the Orlando Sentinel is ranking all 120 college football teams for the 2010 season. While it's a fun little time-killer to get football fans through the next three and half months, it's also a virtually impossible task.
According to the video the Sentinel did introducing the series, they left it up to one person, in this case Andrea Adelson, to do the rankings alone. There simply aren't enough hours in the day for one person to be familiar with all 120 programs, much less know enough about all of them to offer some sort of accurate ranking. So I don't put any stock in them ranking the Orange as the 104th best team in the country. However, that's not going to stop me from pointing out a few facts that make this ranking foolish.
Thanks mainly to Greg Robinson's blazing incompetence, the Orange program certainly hit bottom from 2005-2008. So, if someone reads a couple of clips on the internet and looks at the recent record, you can't fault that person for assuming things will continue to be terrible -- that person is just slightly uneducated.
By no means is the rebuttal I'm about to offer an unbiased one, we are all Orange fans here. Our seven readers know that. However, I can guarantee you I've watched more Orange football in the past year than Andrea Adelson has seen in her life -- and as someone that knows this team, the ranking of 104 is absurdly low.
The Sentinel's main factors for ranking the Orange at 104:
- A high player attrition rate under Doug Marrone
- A new starting quarterback
- Delone Carter's uncertain situation
- The fact that local Orlando product EJ Carter got himself kicked off the team.
Let's go deeper into all of these points:
Player attrition: Any Orange fan knows the program lacked discipline and accountability under Robinson. Marrone has instilled that - as a result, a lot of guys didn't want to get with the program and they are gone. However, it's not like the team is hemorrhaging high-level talent. Other than Mike Williams, there hasn't been a single Division I impact player among the departees. We're not talking about kicking a bunch of Reggie Bush's off the team here.
New Quarterback: While Greg Paulus wasn't perfect, he did set a school record for completion percentage. The heir apparent, Ryan Nassib played in every game last year, and at times looked promising. This is college football, a lot of teams have new starting quarterbacks. At least SU has a guy with some experience under his belt, a guy that will be entering his third year in the program and has played under the bright lights.
Maybe No Carter: While Delone Carter had a very good year in 2009, running back is one of the deepest positions on the team. Even if Carter doesn't play early, Antwon Bailey, a guy who fought through some injuries last year and was extremely impressive late in 2008, and Averin Collier, one of the best high school running backs in New York State, can certainly fill the void. Not to mention Marrone's offense will put the ball in the air early and often.
EJ Carter is Gone/Marrone is a hard ass. Carter is an Orlando product, so the local paper is going to talk about local kids. The Marrone being a hard ass thing tells us the Sentinel read the Daily Orange stories earlier this month. Neither really matters. Let's just move on.
In regards to the ranking itself, what you don't get from the story was the fact that last year - while the team was rebuilding with a point guard as the starting quarterback, Syracuse was two plays away from a .500 record. An OT interception against Minnesota (a bowl team) and a blown special teams play against Louisville were the only thing standing between 4-8 and 6-6. Of those four wins, 2 came against bowl teams.
The team returns two of the best linebackers in the conference, most of a defense that was very good against the run last year, has had a complete year and off-season under its belt to learn new Marrone and Scott Shafer's offensive and defensive schemes and is bringing in a large recruiting class to add much needed depth. While 2009 certainly wasn't a rousing success, it wasn't the disaster the Sentinel's blurb would have you believe.
So, if the Orange are the 104th team in college football - here are teams the Sentinel feels are better:
- EVERY team in the BCS, except Washington State. The list includes:
- Non-BCS powerhouses such as:
So while I don't expect Syracuse to be playing in the national championship game at the end of the upcoming season, I don't expect them to finish behind the Akron Zips either.