For the past few days, Phil Steele has been revealing his top teams heading into the preseason. Yesterday, he revealed Stanford's preseason rank.
Now, people can get all upset and bang pots and pans and whatever, but considering it's Dead Day (and the fact that preseason rankings mean absolutely nothing given Auburn's and our preseason rankings last year), I'd say no one is losing any sleep over this.
For what it's worth, Steele tries to give an objective overview of Stanford beyond Luck, but it ends up coming off as "you're not a football elite, you lost your head coach, and you lost starters, therefore you don't deserve to be any higher." For more in-depth analysis from Steele, check out his magazine page. (Caution: The layout may have you dizzy by the end of the first section.)
That's not the most egregious of offenses by Steele, though. Like I said, preseason rankings don't really matter that much in the endgame, and hardly anyone who follows Stanford will be offended by it. What they will be offended by is where he put Luck in his preseason All-American list.Luck is listed as a preseason All-American by Steele, and deservedly so. He is basically the perceived engine for the team right now. His 2nd place finish last year for the Heisman and his (not-so-surprising if you know most Stanford athletes) decision to return to Stanford for his senior academic year will make him a force to contend with.
But not as powerful as Steele thinks OU's Landry Jones will be. Steele listed Jones ahead of Luck in his preseason All-American list.
Our buddy over at ESPN Ted Miller was rightfully perplexed by it, as were many Pac-10/Pac-12 followers on his blog post. I won't go through the rigmarole of posting Jones vs. Luck's stats. You're pretty familiar with both of them, I would assume, considering we faced Jones with our second-string QB two years ago in the Sun Bowl. Some people are saying that Steele listed them that way because he expects OU to have a better overall record than Stanford this coming season. While that seems counterintuitive, choosing the best player on a team with a stellar record over the best player overall with a worse record, the trend in college athletics awards has been to give these honors to team MVPs of undefeated or one-loss teams as opposed to the better overall player (ahem, Gerhart).
Phil Steele has provided little, if any, insight into Stanford football (or West Coast football, for that matter, given he ranked the Trojans at #17) for the coming season. His team analysis and ranking Stanford #15 on his preseason list were perfectly acceptable. Barely anyone would have said a word about it. But putting Luck behind Jones on his preseason All-American list is just crazy-talk and doesn't help validate his case for putting the Cardinal in the lower half of his top-25. The only thing anyone can do if they're a Stanford fan is just brush him aside and don't believe him.
If anything, at least he had 5 Stanford preseason All-Americans on his list and predicts that Stanford will be #5 in the preseason AP poll. And he gave Luck top billing in his preseason All-Pac-12 list, so I suppose that's a nice consolation prize.