Yesterday, the Sun Belt Conference released its preseason coaches poll. Here are the results and number of first place votes:

1.  Florida International (5)
2.  Troy (2)
T3. Middle Tennessee State
T3. UL Monroe
5. Arkansas State (1)
6. North Texas
7. Western Kentucky (1)
8. UL Lafayette
9. Florida Atlantic

As far as the preseason rankings go, even the most rabid of fans can’t argue with these rankings. FIU is defending champion and put on quite a show in their victory over Toledo in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. Troy is a perennial Sun Belt champion. Since 2006, Troy has either finished 1st or 2nd in the conference. The part that bothers me is the how these rankings are determined and what they supposedly mean.

First, the process. I don’t think that coaches should be allowed to vote for their own team. As a player in the Sun Belt, I would expect my coach to think that our team had the potential to win the conference year in and year out. Coach Freeze (who was the only 1st place vote for ASU) said that he just wouldn’t be able to look his players in the eye had he voted for another school to finish first in the league. It was the first time in over 3 years that ASU has received a first place vote from any coach. WKU’s coach, Willie Taggert, also voted for for his team to finish first.

Second, the meaning. What exactly do these rankings mean? Are they the meant to rate the teams before the season starts, or are they a preliminary guess at how they will finish? Personally, I don’t think they accurately accomplish either. The FIU team from last year proves that. They were picked to finish 6th last year.

I think it just boils down to the fact that the preseason coaches poll gets football talk started. In less than 24 hours from the release of the rankings, there are over 100 news hits on Google. Heck, it even has me blogging. Football season can’t get here soon enough. Go Red Wolves!