It's my contention that pre-season Top-25 lists are next to useless. And by extension, such lists which are created the day after the MNC are, in actual fact, useless. However I live in the real world and I know that 1) people like to talk about these things, and 2) these lists have a real-world effect, because teams that are ranked highly now will begin the season with a similar ranking in the polls that eventually will help make up the BCS.
My interest was piqued by this story in the Chicago Tribune, originally by an Orlando Sentinel writer, which ran down next season's Top 25. Aside from the Land Thieves being ranked #1 -- which rankles me but is a legitimate place to put a team that returns so much talent -- what struck me was that Michigan, a team that is currently without a coaching staff, came in at #20. And the Texas Longhorns are nowhere to be seen.
So I ask you: Is this justified? Is it realistic to expect to be in the Top 25 after a 5-7 season just because we're Texas? (Notice that Florida is missing from these rankings as well.) Or, now that their streak of ten-win seasons is history, do the Horns have to earn an automatic ranking? If so, where would you rank them?