Way back in June of last year we took a look at how all the college football preview magazines were predicting Alabama's 2011 would turn out like. Turn out two of them, Athlon and Phil Steele, got it right by choosing the Crimson Tide as the team to win it all. The Sporting News put the eventual number two, LSU, in the top slot -- the only mag to have the Bayou Bengals in the top three.
Just for comparison's sake, I put together the list of all four pre-season magazine's Top 25 lists alongside the final USA Today Coaches Poll (which is used to select the BCS National Champion). The correct guesses are in red and the teams each listed that did not appear in the final poll are highlighted in grey.
Needless to say, the hits were few and far between while the misses were in abundance. The four magazines got a whopping six teams in their correct placement at the conclusion of the 2011 season. And none of the tabloid prognosticators tapped final poll teams Baylor, Kansas State, Cincinnati, Clemson or BYU (although Steele was the only one to include Southern Mississippi and Houston).
The collapse of Oklahoma and Florida State alongside LSU proving to be astonishingly good (at least during the regular season) pretty much threw a spanner in all the magazine's top picks. After the No. 6 slot a few few clear patterns -- Arkansas was a lot better than they thought and Nebraska was a lot worse -- but, for the most part, it's clearly just a crap shoot.
Obviously there were some outside factors at work here (mainly the scandals at Ohio State and Miami) tbut, for the most part, the pre-season mags pretty much suck at making picks worth putting money on. But we're going to buy them again this year anyway and pore through them looking for some secret insight about the season ahead.