Before I get started here, you can count me in the group of people who don’t get excited about preseason polls, rankings or honors. In fact, I don’t believe teams should be ranked until at least week eight, when there is a decent sample size to look at. But I do understand it all has to exist for entertainment purposes.
Now, the Big 12 recently released its preseason poll and handed out individual preseason honors. Something doesn’t quite match up with these, in my opinion.
Texas is picked to finish fourth in the conference. That’s not completely off the wall, and it’s probably going to be pretty close to where they actually finish. But what doesn’t add up is that the Longhorns have five individuals on the preseason All-Big 12 team. Five!
Oklahoma, picked to win the conference, also has five. So how is that possible?
These are the same players coming back from a 5-7 campaign in 2016. And three of the players on the list play defense, which was one of the worst in school history last year.
Poona Ford and Malcolm Roach were All-Big 12 honorable mention last year, and Malik Jefferson didn’t even make that list. But they are seen obviously seen as some of the best players in the conference in the eyes of the media.
I just find it funny that anyone who follows the Texas program isn’t worried about the offense under Tom Herman. Yet, Connor Williams is the only offensive player who made the All-Big 12 preseason team, and deservedly so.
The defense is a big concern yet again this year, but they have three All-Big 12 preseason team members. To me, this just shows the tremendous job of recruiting Charlie Strong did, but also the awful job of coaching he did.
And just for the record, the fifth player is punter Michael Dickson, who could end up being the best punter in the country by the end of the season.
All I’ve got to say is if the Longhorns land five players on the All-Big 12 team at the end of the season, they are going to finish higher than fourth in the standings.
It wouldn’t surprise me if five players were honored at the end of the year, but there’s going to have to be two or three offensive players instead of one. Without offense in the Big 12, you aren’t going to make it.
If I had to make my prediction for preseason All-Big 12 members for Texas, I would have Connor Williams, Michael Dickson, Collin Johnson, Shane Buechele and Malcolm Roach. These are just based on what I’ve seen from them in their careers up to this point. But again, I have no clue how they worked out this offseason and if they’re even mentally prepared to go through Herman’s fall camp.
I would leave off Poona Ford and Malik Jefferson from my list, simply because I haven’t seen enough from them. That’s not saying those guys may not reach that point by the end of this season, but I go by what I see, not what I think could happen.
It’s not very often that you have five players on a list like this after going 5-7 in the previous season. The good news is Texas is returning most of their starters. But the bad news is Texas is returning most of their starters. How much could they really have improved in one offseason? Does the coaching really matter that much?
That’s where we will see what Herman and his staff are really made of. And we will see it early on.
The media isn’t giving Herman the benefit of the doubt by picking the Longhorns fourth behind Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Kansas State. But realistically, no 5-7 team should be picked higher than about sixth in the conference.
But by selecting five members from the team to the preseason All-Big 12 team, the media acknowledges the talent on the roster.
Preseason polls are meaningless in every way imaginable. But if this year’s poll ends up being somewhat accurate, the Longhorns will be in for a major turnaround from 5-7.
E-mail Chase at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @chaseholik88.