Full disclosure: My inaugural AP ballot of 2016
During the vexing, stimulating, maddening and mildly addictive process of filling out an inaugural ballot, voters lean on two factors: history and/or potential.
We can assess what a nucleus of returning players has achieved in the past, or what we believe a given team is capable of achieving in the upcoming season.
As my first ballot of 2016 suggests, I gravitate toward the former: My top three teams all possess a proven quarterback.
And that's why Clemson sits atop my initial ballot.
Deshaun Watson, currently the college game's best at his position, is surrounded by versatile, veteran skill guys (a handful of whom were plucked from the bay area). And while the Tigers clearly have vacancies to fill on defense, their stockpile of talent is such that they replenish as well as anyone in America.
One of those other instant-replenishment programs, Alabama, must replace its quarterback. And while the Tide have proven they can do that quite effectively, I'm still reticent to place the reigning national champ in my top three.
Elsewhere, I gave serious, serious thought to putting Houston in my top 10, and I still believe the Cougars will give Oklahoma all it wants on Sept. 3.
6. Ohio State
13. Notre Dame
16. Washington State
17. Ole Miss
19. Michigan State
24. Oklahoma State
25. Boise State