CFT preseason Top 25: Tide will rise again

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Pardon me while I blockquote myself in the third person once removed, but last year at this time I wrote the following regarding the 2010 edition of CFT’s Top 25 preseason rankings:

If you’ve been a reader of this lil’ ol’ website for any length of time, you know full well my opinion of preseason polls.  I hate them.  Despise ‘em.  Loathe them on a level only exceeded by the BcS.  And the “cast” of Jersey Shore.

So, what am I about to do?  Attempt a preseason poll, of course.

Don’t read it the wrong way, though.  It’s not that I think they’re worthless.  Rather, I don’t think they’re worth anything.  It makes no sense, before a single game in a new year with a different roster of players and possibly a change in coaching staffs has been played, to guess how to place schools in some semblance of a realistic order.  A predetermined order, incidentally, that goes a long way in determining the “contenders” in the national title hunt.

And, of course, I went on to prove the utter worthlessness of these types of polls — and my own inner Nostradumass — by picking Florida as our preseason No. 1.  The Gators, of course, went on to finish 8-5 and outside of the Associated Press Top 25 for the first time since 2004.  So, of course, I’m about to attempt yet another preseason poll.

Of course.

If anything, this should scare the living fecal matter out of any member of the Alabama Nation because, as inferred in the headline, I have the Tide heading into CFT’s preseason Top 25 as the numero uno team in the nation.  Guess we’re about to find out if we’ve spawned an offshoot of the SI cover jinx, eh?

Honestly, though, there appear to be about eight — at least — you could stick into a bag, shake ’em up, pull one out and make a helluva case that they could/should/will be the ones laying claim to the crystal in New Orleans on Jan. 9.  Those eight?  In alphabetical order so as to stave off offending anyone until further down in this post: Alabama, Boise State, Florida State, LSU, Oklahoma, Oregon, Stanford and Wisconsin.  Then when you realize you’ve left teams like Nebraska and Oklahoma State and South Carolina and the like of that initial, highly-subjective Group of Eight list, it hits you like Vontaze Burfict in a really foul, angry mood: this is shaping up to be one of the most spectacularly exciting, unpredictable seasons of college football in recent memory.

And one where the SEC could see its run of five straight BcS titles come to an end.  Or not, if my inner Kreskin attempt is correct (chuckle).

So, without further ado… well, one additional ado: for all of my and Ben Kercheval’s conference-by-conference predictions, please click HERE as the latter did a helluva job doing the heavy lifting on this part of our 2011 preview.  And there’s also a place where you can voice your opinion one vote at a time by casting your ballot for who you feel should be the preseason No. 1.

Now, without any additional ado — and we mean it this time — here’s CFT’s preseason Top 25 list, with an individual link to a broader look for each team available by merely clicking on the name of the school.

1.) Alabama
2.) Florida State
3.) Stanford
4.) Oklahoma
5.) Wisconsin
6.) Oregon
7.) Boise State
8.) LSU
9.) Nebraska
10.) Oklahoma State
11.) South Carolina
12.) Virginia Tech
13.) Arkansas
14.) Texas A&M
15.) TCU
16.) Georgia
17.) USC
18.) Notre Dame
19.) West Virginia
20.) Ohio State
21.) Mississippi State
22.) UCF
23.) Arizona State
24.) Michigan State
25.) Air Force

TE Jordan Wilson to transfer from UCLA

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UCLA redshirt junior Jordan Wilson has announced he is leaving the Bruins. In a post on his Twitter account on Friday afternoon, Wilson announced he is entering the transfer portal with the intent of finishing up his collegiate career with some other program.

“[I’d] like to announce that I will be entering the transfer portal, graduating at the end of the Spring quarter, and playing my final year of eligibility somewhere else,” Wilson announced in a statement on his Twitter account.

The decision of Wilson to leave UCLA comes at an unfortunate time for the Bruins. Wilson was likely to be a starter at tight end for UCLA in the fall. Wilson is the third tight end to leave UCLA this offseason. Devin Asiasi previously made the decision to declare for the NFL draft a year early. Matt Lynch also stepped into the transfer portal. Now, UCLA has a wide-open competition for playing time at the tight end spot beginning this spring.

Wilson caught seven passes for 72 yards for UCLA in 2019. He will leave UCLA having caught 25 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns in the past three seasons. As a graduate transfer, Wilson will be eligible to play his final year of eligibility anywhere he ends up this fall.

USC nabs Todd Orlando from Texas Tech

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USC has a new defensive coordinator. The Trojans announced on Friday the school has officially hired Todd Orlando to fill the role of defensive coordinator. Orlando joins USC after coaching the past three seasons at Texas.

Orlando actually joined the Texas Tech program after being let go by Texas following staff changes with the Longhorns. Despite landing a job with the Red Raiders, Orlando remained a top target for USC head coach Clay Helton.

“We are excited to have Todd join our Trojan football program,” Helton said in a released statement. “He is an experienced and successful defensive coordinator who has made an impact everywhere he has coached. He brings a passion, energy, toughness and discipline to his coaching and those characteristics were evident in our discussions. His defensive system poses an extreme challenge to offenses.”

Orlando replaces Clancy Pendergast, who was let go by Helton amid USC’s own staff changes after a down 2019 season. As previously mentioned (HERE), Orlando actually had worse defensive numbers compared to what Pendergast coached with USC last season. However, a contrast of playing styles and offensive outputs between the schedule Texas faced in 2019 (including games against LSU and Oklahoma) and what USC faced could lead to some skewed figures.

Orlando’s first test as a defensive coordinator will be a monster. USC opens the 2020 season in Arlington, Texas against Alabama.

Cal loses assistant Gerald Alexander to NFL job

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Cal assistant coach Gerald Alexander is leaving to coach with the Miami Dolphins. Alexander confirmed in a message posted on his Twitter account he is heading to the NFL for a coaching opportunity. Multiple reports have confirmed it will be with the Miami Dolphins.

Alexander thanked Cal head coach Justin Wilcox for the opportunity to be a part of Wilcox’s first coaching staff at Cal.

Alexander joined the Cal program in 2017 and spent the past three seasons as a defensive backs coach for the program. He has played a role in helping to coach one of the better defensive teams in the Pac-12. He previously coached at Montana State, Indiana State and with Chris Peterssen at Washington. Alexander played for Petersen at Boise State.

This will mark a return to the NFL for Alexander. He previously played in the league for five seasons with the Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Carolina Panthers, and, appropriately enough, the Miami Dolphins. Alexander was a second-round draft pick of Detroit in 2007.

Tulane officially adds Oklahoma State transfer LB Kevin Henry

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One of the nearly dozen Oklahoma State football players who entered the transfer portal this cycle has found a new collegiate home.

Thursday, Tulane announced that Kevin Henry has officially been added to the program’s roster.  As the linebacker left the Oklahoma State football team as a graduate transfer, he’ll be eligible to play for the AAC team immediately in 2020.

The upcoming season will serve as Henry’s final year of eligibility.  Henry had previously been awarded a sixth season from the NCAA after taking a redshirt as a true freshman and then missing all but one game of 2017 because of a torn ACL.

A three-star member of the Oklahoma State football Class of 2015, Henry was rated as the No. 25 safety in the country.  He was also the No. 20 player regardless of position in the state of Louisiana.  Only one signee on the defensive side of the ball in OSU’s class that year, defensive tackle Darrion Daniels, was rated higher than Henry.

Daniels, incidentally, ultimately finished up his collegiate playing career at Nebraska after transferring to the Cornhuskers in December of 2018.

During his time in Stillwater, Henry played in a total of 36 games, including a dozen appearances this past season.  He started one of those three-dozen games, Oklahoma State football’s Liberty Bowl win over Missouri following the 2018 regular season.

In those appearances, Daniels was credited with 51 tackles, two tackles for loss, one interception, one forced fumble, one quarterback hit and one pass defensed.