Full disclosure: My initial AP ballot
For the second consecutive year, the Associated Press has afforded me the privilege of being derided, disparaged and decried by many of you on a weekly basis.
Small price to pay for being among the 60 or so voters in the AP football poll. The preseason top 25 is set to be released Saturday. Not sure how closely it will resemble my ballot listed below but I'm eager to find out.
A few points (or disclaimers) about my top 25: First, I don't subscribe to the philosophy (shared by more than you might think) that the reigning national champ remains No. 1 until someone knocks it off. Every team is different.
But FSU isn't that much different.
The offensive line -- the most critical unit of a team in my opinion (just ask the Bucs) -- is seasoned and stacked, and Jameis Winston still operates behind it. There are plenty of catchers and runners, and the kicker (Roberto Aguayo) is the reigning Lou Groza Award winner. Defensively, there's a question or two at linebacker, but nothing that will induce panic.
Elsewhere, I have UCLA trending upward and Auburn dipping slightly. Cincinnati, my favorite to win the American Athletic Conference, will give Ohio State all it wants in Columbus on Sept. 27. And yes, I had Duke on my ballot, which was due before the Blue Devils' best defensive player (LB Kelby Brown) was lost for the year to a torn ACL.
A final note: The AP poll has nothing -- zilch -- to do with determining the four teams for the College Football Playoff.
And one last thing (no realllly, this is it): A more comprehensive breakdown of this top 25 -- in full-page splendor -- is slated to be published in the Tampa Bay Times on Aug. 24.
6. Ohio State
8. Michigan State
9. South Carolina
16. Notre Dame
17. Ole Miss
19. Arizona State
23. Kansas State
24. Texas A&M