2018 Preseason Coaches Poll

In their collective infinite wisdom (?), the NCAA coaches have again forced themselves to make a list and check it absolutely no more than once in order to deliver the preseason poll to us poor peasants.

Let’s dissect.

-Oklahoma received 33 first-place votes, Florida 10, and LSU 7. Sadly, there were no random first-place votes this year for Hamline or Winona State or a school that doesn’t even exist anymore, and I’m really disappointed. TRY BETTER.

-No surprise to see two-time defending champion Oklahoma get the first spot, though the coaches did invert LSU and Florida from last season’s finish. I made the same decision to promote Florida in my rankings based on the strength of Florida’s freshman class and returning routines, and I presume the coaches had the same reasoning. They’ve clearly forgiven Florida after dumping the Gators to 5th in last year’s preseason poll.

-The top six is pretty much the agreed-upon top six at this point. It’s minorly surprising to see UCLA’s position, not because of reality so much (I think anything from 4th-6th is a reasonable preseason projection for UCLA), but because of the overall point totals, which put the Bruins fairly far away from the other members of the top 5. Kind of weird?

1 Oklahoma (33) 1769
2 Florida (10) 1728
3 LSU (7) 1692
4 Alabama 1584
5 Utah 1544
6 UCLA 1477
7 Michigan 1443
8 Denver 1313
9 Nebraska 1214
10 Kentucky 1213
11 California 1201
12 Oregon State 1141
13 Boise State 1125
14 Auburn 1119
15 Washington 1114
16 Georgia 1011
17 Missouri 975
18 Stanford 903
19 Arkansas 872
20 Iowa 819
21 George Washington 701
22 Ohio State 690
23 Illinois 609
24 Southern Utah 605
25 Penn State 599

-The big sass-monster moment for the coaches was everyone getting together to go, “Courtney and Suzanne can’t sit with us on Mondays” and put Georgia all the way down in 16th. (I had Georgia at 13th and thought that was fairly sassy.)

Now, hopes aren’t super high for Georgia this season and (depending on the eventual status of Schild) missing nationals is a very real possibility. You can justify 16th, but it’s still somewhat surprising to me that the coaches did it for Georgia, a team that hasn’t finished lower than 13th since 1983, especially because of how much weight reputation carries in the coaches pool. It’s usually the whole deal, especially in power conferences where the coaches typically attempt to protect their own with their votes so that the conferences can say, “20 SEC teams ranked in top 10!!!!” or whatever.

Georgia going 16th means you can assume some coaches put Georgia even lower than that, which feels like a statement vote. I’m not super sure what the statement is.

Courtney doesn’t have any experience?
Grlglgrlrr…Suzanne feelings?
It will be hard to go on without Rachel Schick’s bars? (That’s def it)

-From the teams that made nationals last season, the coaches demoted Washington as well as Georgia. You can make a compelling argument that 2017 was a one-off for Washington, so that’s not a super insane choice. In their place, the coaches finally got on the Kentucky bandwagon and also really like Cal. I’m there for it.

-Otherwise, the poll seems pretty reasonable. You can argue a few teams by a couple spots here and there, but there’s nothing ridiculous. I see no “NEW COACH QUESTION MARK” demotions for Stanford, Ohio State, and Penn State. You could say that Stanford in 18th is a demotion based on the talent on the roster, but not based on last year’s finish. Basically, no one has any idea what to do with Stanford at this point, and we’ve all just given up until the season starts.

– Note: 50 coaches voted this year, compared to 72 who voted last year. Tsk tsk tsk. I’m not mad, just disappointed.

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15 thoughts on “2018 Preseason Coaches Poll”

  1. I watched Georgia’s preseason meet on ESPN. They looked better than I expected based on all the preseason doom and gloom reports. Snead, Dickson, and Vega looked great. If those three can stay healthy, they are an awesome trio to have in lineups. Babalis, Sanders, Johnson, and Marino looked the same as prior years. Oakley seems like a solid early lineup contributor and Arnold really surprised me on floor (and beam). The only disappointment was Vaculik falling on her events, which really isn’t too surprising.

    They have depth concerns, but the athletes they have are good. I think people may be underestimating them. They won’t win a title, but 16 seems a bit crazy. I also hope Arnold becomes a regular in the floor lineup — just to show the past coaches/admins why you don’t kick athletes off the team for no reason.

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    1. Their beam was like night and day from last year! They look so much more confident, and I could totally see it being one of their strengths this year. I agree that 16 seems a bit low, considering that they made nationals last year despite all their troubles on beam.

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  2. I’m neutral on UGA after the first look. They really need Snead to be healthy and become an AA star. That will be key because I see Dickson, Vega, and Marino more as second-tier gymnasts in the SEC. They need a Bridget Sloan, Ebee Price, Maggie Nichols-type gymnast that can bring up their totals, because their supporting cast (Sanders, Babalis, Vaculik, Johnson) are not especially strong or consistent. I can easily see them over-performing this year. As others have said, if Kupoculan can just get them through a decent season without major consistency issues, I think that will be satisfactory in the first year. I don’t think they’ll challenge LSU/Florida/Alabama right away, but I think anyone who assumes Kentucky will outscore this team on a regular basis is underestimating UGA’s ability, and also greatly underestimating their history of home scoring.

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    1. The UGA homescoring/over scoring comments are way over blown. Ten years ago, yes. Now, UGA is nowhere near the top ten offenders. UF, UCLA, Utah, OU come to mind way before Georgia. Heck there were a lot of questionable scores at Auburn and Mizzou last season.

      I also think Vega is capable of going 9.9+ on beam and floor. Marino is a 9.9+ on floor and Dickson is a solid AA who, as a sophomore, will only improve. She is capable of going 9.9+ on every event, which doesn’t really put her at “second tier.”

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      1. Agreed that complaints about UGA home scoring is overblown. Literally every single NCAA team is overscored at home. Honestly, UCLA’s home scoring may be the most egregious. Don’t get me wrong, I’m actually a fan of UCLA, but the scoring in Pauley can get ridiculous

        With that said, Snead and Dickson are far from “second-tier”. They are top former level 10s that literally any top team would love to have. No, they aren’t going to be Bridget or Maggie and score 9.950-10 on all four events every week, but those are legends in the sport who are rare to come by. I do think the former coaching staff didn’t develop them as they could have thus far, but if one thing was evident at First Look is that they seem to responding to the Kupets-Yoculan coaching strategy.

        It is truly a shame that Oakley is still coming back from injury and that Schild is out currently. They could’ve contributed 7-8 high-scoring routines that could’ve replaced some of the inconsistent/lower scoring Vaculik/Sanders/Johnson routines. Honestly, if this freshman class were healthy (including Foss), this team could have potentially been competitive with the likes of Michigan, Utah, and possibly Alabama. The beginning of the season should be extremely rough (they may not even have the numbers to put up six on all four events). Schild, Foss, McPherson, Pedersen, and Cherrey are all currently not competing and Oakley has just recently resumed full training. A lot of their fate will be decided by how many of those athletes can actually get back into the lineup. The team should be competitive for nationals, but I don’t expect them to be in the running for Super Six.

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  3. I can see how UCLA’s votes dropped down a bit after losing Kocian (indefinitely), Preston (retired), Mossett (graduated), Cipra (graduated), Gerber (graduated), etc.

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    1. Yes! I thought they’ve looked great in preseason; I’m glad the coaches seem to agree with me! They could really shake some things up in the PAC 12.

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  4. UCLA actually looks like their gymnasts are in much better shape than last season, especially Ross and Ohashi, and I think Tratz and Dennis will really help their case in getting big vault and floor scores. These two freshmen in particular can make up any points they lose in the potential scenario of Kocian redshirting, and if Kocian doesn’t need to, then they should have an amazing season. They have a team that could win nationals every year but they have to be consistently solid, which they haven’t been in a while. LSU is going to have a hard time this season, only having 2 (?) returning floor routines, and losing a valuable all arounder in Gnat. I don’t see Desiderio or Durante making up whatever they lose, and Harrold just doesn’t strike me as the floor star they need, although Edney does. As for Florida, this is their season. Baker and McMurtry are in their final season, and they managed to rope in Foberg at the same time along with Baumann. Anything less than a national championship would be disappointing. Oklahoma will be hard to beat, especially with a decent freshman class and they don’t have gaps made by outgoing seniors that can’t be filled. I still think Florida should have them beat though. And then I don’t see Utah or Alabama doing anything more than making the super Six, their stars are the same and their freshmen aren’t the immediate star status, assuming I’m right about Key not being the big star we all expect her to be. I think top 4 will be Florida, Oklahoma, UCLA, LSU in that order.

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    1. I agree with zyxcba. My only divergence is that I think people forget what a star Chase Capps was. Even Oklahoma isn’t going to find 9.95’s every week on 3 events. They may find high 9.8’s or even a 9.9, but I think they are going to lose at least .1 if not .15 by losing Capps.

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