Do we have an actual season schedule yet? Nope! Should we even be doing this? Almost surely not! But at least we have the preseason poll. So everyone rest easy.
|2021 Preseason Coaches Poll|
|1. Florida (16 first-place votes) – 1167 points|
|2. Oklahoma (16 first-place votes) – 1152 points|
|3. LSU – 1076 points|
|4. Utah – 1073 points|
|5. Michigan – 1060 points|
|6. Alabama – 944 points|
|7. UCLA – 943 points|
|8. California – 919 points|
|8. Denver (1 first-place vote) – 919 points|
|10. Georgia – 847 points|
|11. Minnesota – 834 points|
|12. Kentucky – 773 points|
|13. Oregon State – 746 points|
|14. Auburn – 707 points|
|15. Arkansas – 678 points|
|16. Missouri – 638 points|
|17. BYU – 628 points|
|18. Iowa State – 573 points|
|19. Washington – 572 points|
|20. Nebraska – 569 points|
|21. Arizona State – 565 points|
|22. Illinois – 428 points|
|23. Southern Utah – 426 points|
|24. Arizona – 378 points|
|25. Iowa – 372 points|
|26. NC State – 359 points|
|27. Penn State – 297 points|
|28. Maryland – 290 points|
|29. Ohio State – 281 points|
|30. Boise State – 267 points|
|31. Stanford – 242 points|
|32. Utah State – 203 points|
|33. West Virginia – 203 points|
|34. Michigan State – 170 points|
|35. George Washington – 160 points|
|36. Pittsburgh – 105 points|
We have, actually, a minor upset at the top, with defending first-place team Oklahoma just narrowly missing out on the top spot. This is only the 2nd time in the last 6 years that Oklahoma is not ranked #1 in the preseason poll. Instead, that honor goes to Florida, taking the top spot in the poll for the first time since the eve of the 2015 season.
It’s an interesting call. Not necessarily a bad one. I probably still would have voted Oklahoma first, but Florida was in 2nd place last season and is a very compelling title choice this year. I imagine this is primarily a reaction to the not-having-Maggie-Nichols of it all for Oklahoma for the coaches who are semi paying attention. Or are probably just, like, friends with Jenny. Or are SEC coaches looking out for their own.
Jenny Rowland is now only the third active head coach to have had her team ranked #1 in a coaches poll, joining KJ Kindler and Jay Clark (Georgia 2010).
We see that the same possible roster-awareness phenomenon at play in UCLA’s 7th-place ranking, the lowest preseason ranking for the Bruins since I’ve been writing about these (it seems the historical preseason polls have been lost to the sands of time…in predictable and bad fashion). Dropping UCLA is a warranted reaction to how many top gymnasts have graduated from that team, so it seems the majority of voting coaches had headline roster turnover in mind while making their selections.
Though it’s not that many coaches. Quite predictably, very few coaches voted in this year’s poll compared to years past. Almost like there’s some stuff going on and…are we even having a season?
I would like to give a special round of applause to the second annual “throwing a first place vote to Denver just cuz” from the anonymous coach who is taking this exactly as seriously as it warrants.
For the most part, teams are ranked right where they were ranked last season/finished last year. There’s an inherent mental hierarchy and loyalty that is very difficult to shift, hence things like LSU continuing to rank ahead of Michigan because…that kind of seems like where LSU should be? Or Denver having trouble climbing into the very top teams because…what’s a Denver?
There were a couple shifts, though. Washington is quite a bit lower than its finish last season, perhaps a reaction to another major roster exodus. And head coach exodus. Although I did have a dream this morning when going back to sleep after Euros that Elise Ray was back coaching Washington and they competed high bar and someone did a tucked Jaeger to land standing on top of the bar and almost died. For whatever that’s worth. Oh, nothing?
Stanford is also a bit lower than it finished last season despite the massive potential upgrade to its lineup, though that lower ranking can certainly be justified because…are you even going to be able to train? Can you season?
Overall, it seems like they kind of tried this year, but definitely a solid third to half of them just copied their homework off of Road To Nationals. A tried and true strategy.