Blog Entry

Phil Steele: LSU will open 2012 season No. 1

Posted on: January 30, 2012 2:42 pm

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

For all their explosive Mathieuan brilliance, LSU failed to finish the 2011 season ranked No. 1. But Phil Steele does have a small bit of good news for the Tigers: the numbers guru says that's where LSU will start the 2012 season.

For the fourth straight offseason, the preview magazine maven has projected the preseason AP top 10 based on returning starters, bowl performance, and other factors. Despite their BCS championship game pratfall, Steele expects the Tigers to open 2012 as the AP No. 1, one slot ahead of much-hyped USC.

Steele's assessment:

Last year LSU was picked 2nd in the SEC West behind Alabama and would go on to have arguably the best regular season in school history going 13-0 winning the SEC Championship and would beat EIGHT Top 25 teams! While the National Title loss to Alabama still stings, many of the Tigers’ star players return for 2012 including Heisman candidate DB Tyrann Mathieu along with their top 3 rec’s and their top 4 rushers. Throw in QB Zach Mettenberger who Miles said last year was his best pure passing QB and a home game vs Alabama and the Tigers will be the favorites to win the National Title! 

Alabama, Oregon and Oklahoma round out the projected top five, with Nos. 6-10 going to Georgia, Michigan, Florida State, Arkansas and West Virginia, respectively.

Based on Steele's track record, Les Miles should go ahead and start preparing his team to wear that familiar top-ranked bullseye, at least for its opening week matchup against North Texas. All three teams pegged by Steele to earn the AP's preseason No. 1 nod have gone to do so, including Oklahoma last year. Steele has also correctly predicted 9 of 10 teams all three years of the exercise and 13 of 15 total teams in the top five. 

Which means it's not just Miles that can go ahead and start worrying about managing expectations--assuming Steele is correct (or even close to it), the Bulldogs, Wolverines and Mountaineers will all be graced with a substantially higher preseason ranking than any of those programs has faced in years. And though that's not always a recipe for disaster (look at what Oklahoma State accomplished this past season), an appearance in Steele's projected top 10 proved to be a terrible omen for other supposed up-and-comers like 2009 Ole Miss, 2010 Iowa and 2011 Texas A&M.

So we're guessing Mark Richt, Brady Hoke and Dana Holgorsen -- not to mention Jimbo Fisher and his perennially overrated Seminoles -- are all hoping that this once, Steele isn't quite as accurate as he's promised to be.

Steele also recently released a comprehensive look at the entire FBS's projected returning starters for 2012; you can read the Eye on CFB's breakdown of those numbers here.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the opening kick of the year all the way through the offseason, has you covered with this daily newsletter. View a preview.

Get College Football updates on Facebook   


Since: Nov 29, 2006
Posted on: January 31, 2012 9:18 am

Phil Steele: LSU will open 2012 season No. 1

Thank you drjellyfinger. That's probably the best post I've ever read in this place. The fraud and unfairness of, basically, seeding teams before a single game is played is just another idiotic component of this mythical or 'pretend' system.....and that 'seeding' is mostly media hyped and name brand recognition driven. Biggest pox in team sports history...this BCS garbage.

Since: Nov 18, 2011
Posted on: January 31, 2012 8:58 am

Phil Steele: LSU will open 2012 season No. 1

Georgia plays in the SEC East, and has a favorable schedule, as in THEY DO NOT HAVE TO PLAY LSU, BAMA, or Arkansas AGAIN next year.

Since: Feb 11, 2009
Posted on: January 31, 2012 3:41 am

Phil Steele: LSU will open 2012 season No. 1

I generally don't read the longer posts, but I think that drjellyfinger raises some legitimate points.  We haven't even had the official national signing day and the media is alreasdy off and running to set the pre-season top ten for 2012.  At this point, this type of thing will only be reinforced for the next several months and is unlikely to have any variation.  But how likely is it to be correct?  I'll admit to being an SEC fan of long standing, but why is Georgia, a team which showed that it really has nothing, given the SEC Championship Game and the way a less-than-perfect Big 10 team Michigan State handled them in the Outback Bowl, rated in Steele's top ten?  Nothing I've seen or read about so far is going to move them beyond the maybe "pretty good but not great" status in 2012.  But the media somehow has projected them to be a top ten team and keeps repeating this stuff. 

Since: Aug 18, 2011
Posted on: January 31, 2012 3:05 am

Phil Steele: LSU will open 2012 season No. 1

i see you are still doing drugs

Since: Feb 23, 2010
Posted on: January 31, 2012 1:32 am

Phil Steele: LSU will open 2012 season No. 1

USC is going to start the season scary good.  By bowl time, they will be favored by 17 points.  And, they will beat the spread.

Since: Jan 19, 2012
Posted on: January 30, 2012 11:25 pm

Phil Steele: LSU will open 2012 season No. 1

Once again a poorly timed and premature articulation inspires normal people to believe………elim
inating preseason polls and standardizing the number of conference games played in every conference would be two giant steps in the right direction to determine a true national champion in lieu of a playoff system.

Phil and the rest of the so-called “experts”, simply have a voice that is much larger in scope than most. My response is…..Eat shit!

The voters and computer formulas used to determine participants in the current or future plus one BCS system need a base line (starting point) to determine a variety of critical factors that contribute to the final standings, including strength of schedule, quality wins, bad losses, etc.

My intention is that unoriginal writers/articles like this, written over and over again throughout the next 8 months, lead to a singular viewpoint that is stale and unfortunately, far too easy to accept in the main stream media.

If every writer unwilling to break from the pack writes the same content, the result and perception is the same. Don’t they say that true power lies within controlling the information/message?

Sadly, this hack and all the others that share his opinion are literally shaping the opinion for the upcoming season. Simply put, the base line calculations and opinions used to determine who “deserves” to play for the BS National Championship game stem from articles like this. Assumptions have become an SEC pipeline.

It’s nearly guaranteed that at least one team from the SEC will play for the title despite the potential for another team outside of their conference having a stronger overall resume.

If you rank most every team from one conference (regardless of which one) in the top 25, before they take a snap, based solely on paper analysis, that conference is bound to have one team that is going to do well enough to argue their legitimacy. As a result of these articles and pre-season polls, the path becomes filled with less obstacles, i.e. a one loss SEC team generally ranks ahead of a one loss team from any other conference (because at least one team started that way), a 2 loss SEC team typically ranks ahead of a 2 loss team from another conference and so on. Unfortunately for all college football fans, the starting point too often favors reputation over actual results.

Here is a quick example. In week two of this past season Mississippi St. played Auburn. Both were ranked in the top 25 and it was hyped to be a match up of two top 25-powerhouse teams. Auburn moves up in the rankings after the win and Miss. St. doesn’t drop out because (based on the pre-season polls) they played a quality opponent. In fact, it wasn’t until much later and several more losses before the voters finally admitted their error and dropped these teams from the rankings. Turns out, it was a good game played by a couple of pretty average teams, but the benefits from being over ratted at the beginning pays dividends for every team who beat each one thereafter.

The question becomes, how much did other teams in the SEC (SOS, quality wins, etc.) benefit from these two teams being higher in the preseason rankings than they should have been? For that matter, how much did the entire conference benefit in 2011 from a number of misses coming from the same conference? It should be noted that the majority of teams who made a significant improvement from their initial rankings (Arkansas withstanding) were not from the SEC, but in the end, the SEC reaped the reward.

Do me a favor, go back and cross-reference South Carolina’s 2011 schedule with teams ranked in the top 25 to begin the season vs. those who ended outside the top 25. You’ll find that 4 (only played 8) of the conference SEC opponents they played this year fall squarely in the overrated category (not to mention a weak non-conference schedule). When we start talking quality wins, SOS and other factors that help bump up a team in the rankings and computers, is their any question that they benefited from the voters blindly making predictions in the pre-season without merit?

I have no doubt that some will totally dismiss my point because they can’t look past the use of the SEC as an example, but just wait until the preseason polls come out next year and the same overrated dogs are ranked at the top before a snap.

If history truly tells the future, how many 10 win seasons have the powerhouse Gamecocks or the (Miss. St.) Bulldogs had in school history?

In all good conscience, every voter and so called computer guru that makes up these formulas should wait and see how well a team plays before they ever cast a vote or program a computer. After all, computers need to be programmed by humans and every computer formula needs to start with a variety of base line assumptions. Where do these assumptions begin?.... You guessed it, preseason polls!

If you have ever played or coached the game, even the best teams on paper need to actually play the game before a determination can be made as to how good they actually are. I call BS! 

Since: Oct 29, 2009
Posted on: January 30, 2012 10:57 pm

Phil Steele: LSU will open 2012 season No. 1

Why does anyone care? There have been 61 teams pre-season ranked #1 since 1950 and only 10 have finished the year ranked #1

Since: Jun 2, 2010
Posted on: January 30, 2012 10:51 pm

Phil Steele: LSU will open 2012 season No. 1

brees4mvp.....i hate to break it to you but lsu won't even sniff the nat'l title game next guys will have the same pathetic offense with a green qb and yes the genius will break out with the same 3 play offensive game book...better start making reservations for your plan b sec team while there is still room on there coattails.

Since: Jan 2, 2012
Posted on: January 30, 2012 10:44 pm

Phil Steele: LSU will open 2012 season No. 1

Check the scoreboard and record books.  LSU stands on its own merit.  3 appearances in the BCS game the past 9 years with 2 championships won.  End of story. 

Since: Mar 15, 2011
Posted on: January 30, 2012 10:41 pm


In 2012, lsu will beat alabama for the SEC west again, and beat usc for the BCS title---book it!

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or