Georgia Tech is the only team that will play four teams in the top 12 – No. 9 Georgia, No. 10 Florida State, No. 11 Notre Dame and No. 12 Clemson.
Multiple teams, including Boston College, Louisville, Wake Forest and Texas, play three. It is something of an arbitrary standard. USC plays six of the top 22. Alabama plays seven of the top 25. Regardless, it’s indicative of how challenging the schedule appears to be for the Yellow Jackets.
That said, for a team with the highest of aspirations, it is an opportunity to prove itself. By season’s end, Tech could have a resume to rival almost any team in the country.
Georgia Tech was named on all 61 ballots, according to College Poll Tracker. At the top of the range were one vote at No. 8 (Nathan Deen of the Savannah Morning News, for whom he covers Georgia Southern) and two at No. 10 (Chadd Cripe of the Idaho Statesman and Sam Werner of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Sam covers Pitt. This isn’t terribly relevant, but he and I played in a scramble together at the ACC Kickoff at Pinehurst, N.C. Neither of us are very good.).
At the bottom were No. 24 (Sam McKewon of the Omaha World-Herald) and three votes at No. 23 (Brent Axe of the Syracuse Post-Standard, Ed Johnson of the Albuquerque Journal and Tim Griffin of the San Antonio Express-News.).
Other votes of note: Marc Weiszer, who covers Georgia for the Athens Banner-Herald, had Tech at No. 12. Josh Kendall of the State in Columbia, S.C., ranked Tech No. 13. Doug Doughty of the Roanoke Times, who covers Virginia, and Laura Keeley, the Duke beat writer at the Raleigh News & Observer, both ranked Tech No. 15.
(This scrutiny is among many reasons why I would never want to be a poll voter. Thankfully, AJC policy prohibits writers from being a poll voter.)
Previous preseason poll appearances
This is the 14th time since the preseason poll was instituted in 1950 that Tech is ranked to start the season. The first six occurred during coach Bobby Dodd’s tenure. In the first 13 instances, the Jackets finished the season ranked eight times and unranked five.
The 1952 team won a share of the national championship.
Starting at No. 16
The No. 16 spot has not exactly served as a launching pad for glory recently. In the past 20 years, only six teams finished their season with a ranking higher than 16th. Ten teams were not in the final poll. Only one team ended up in the top 10.
What does this mean? Not much, except perhaps to illustrate the meaningless of preseason polls.
|1996||Virginia Tech||10-2||No. 13|
|2002||Virginia Tech||10-4||No. 18|
Preseason rankings for Tech’s best seasons
Since Dodd’s retirement after the 1966 season, Tech has recorded nine nine-win seasons. All but one of them began with the Jackets unranked in the preseason poll.
For the record, four of Dodd’s best teams –1952 (12-0), 1952 (9-3-1), 1955 (9-1-1) and 1956 (10-1) – began with the team ranked in the preseason. The 1951 team, the other Dodd team to win nine or more after the institution of the preseason poll, began the season unranked.
In 1990, Tech was ninth among teams also receiving votes and was awarded the national championship in the coaches poll.
In 1998, Tech was first among teams also receiving votes.
In 2000, Tech was tied for 13th among teams also receiving votes.
In 2006, Tech was sixth among teams also receiving votes.