The college football regular season is over. Thus, it is time to look back at preseason predictions. We conducted a media survey in August. TBL writers also made their own predictions for the 2016 season. Here’s a breakdown of how they fared.
The College Football Playoff
Alabama (68 percent) and Clemson (72 percent) were media favorites to reach the playoff preseason. The media had FSU (52 percent), Oklahoma (48 percent), and LSU (40 percent) ahead of Ohio State at 36 percent. No media member had Washington. The biggest whiffs were Notre Dame and TCU receiving multiple votes.
Among TBL writers, Duffy (Alabama, Ohio State, and Washington) and Phillips (Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State) were closest. Stanford (4/7), Florida State (3/7), and Michigan State (2/7) were the most common incorrect choices.
ACC: Media members felt it would be Clemson (58 percent) to Florida State (42 percent). TBL writers went for Clemson over FSU by a 5-2 margin.
B10: Media members thought the champion would be Ohio State (65 percent) ahead of Michigan (35 percent). No one picked Penn State. TBL writers voted for Ohio State (3 votes), Michigan (2 votes), and Michigan State (2 votes).
B12: Media members had the Big 12 read relatively well. 81 percent of respondents chose Oklahoma. The rest chose TCU. All seven TBL writers chose Oklahoma.
P12: Media members were too bullish on Stanford (58 percent) and UCLA (23 percent). There were only two votes (8 percent) for Washington. TBL voting went for Stanford (4), Oregon (2), and Washington (1).
SEC: Media members were not quite so bullish on Alabama before the season. They were the favorite, with 58 percent of the vote. Though a strong contingent (38 percent) thought LSU would knock them off. Five of seven TBL writers chose Alabama. Tennessee and LSU each got one vote.
Respondents had a consensus top 3 before the season with DeShaun Watson (50 percent) leading Leonard Fournette (19 percent) and Christian McCaffrey (19 percent). There were no votes for presumptive favorite Lamar Jackson, though he did receive a plurality (19 percent) for breakout player of the year.
TBL writers favored Christian McCaffrey (3 votes) to Deshaun Watson (2 votes). Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield and FSU running back Dalvin Cook each received a vote.
Media members mostly missed positive surprises. Top vote getters were Louisville, Miami, and Texas who were true to form or a bit worse. The only team receiving multiple votes from TBL writers was Michigan State, who finished 3-9.
Respondents were more accurate on disappointments. Tennessee and Notre Dame had the most votes. LSU, Baylor, and Ole Miss also had multiple votes. Two TBL writers chose Tennessee. Three others chose UCLA, Texas, and Notre Dame.
The biggest upset was a split vote. Houston over Oklahoma (3 votes) was a top vote getter. Two had Texas over Notre Dame, which ended up not being much of an upset. The media, however, whiffed on their biggest scalper (Appalachian State) and most frequent upset victim (Alabama). Only one of seven TBL upset hit: NDSU over Iowa.
Looking at regular season win totals, media members were correct about Michigan (10.3). They were too high on Tennessee (9.7), Texas (8.2), and Baylor (7.7).
The Hot Seat
Darrell Hazell at Purdue was the media’s choice to be fired. It was a strong one. Hazell was out by mid-October, and no one foresaw Les Miles getting fired after four games.
Media members were not high on Kevin Sumlin or Gus Malzahn’s staying prospects. Texas A&M (8) and Auburn (7) received the most votes for “best job available after 2016.” Four of seven TBL writers thought Kevin Sumlin would be the fist P5 coach to go. For best job available, TBL writers had two votes each for Texas, LSU, and Auburn.
To be fair, media members may have been on to something with Sumlin, had close results gone differently.
Respondents’ favorite to be on the hot seat after 2016 was James Franklin (8 votes). It’s safe to say, winning the B1G, he had a better year than anticipated. Eleven of 26 voters (42 percent) thought Tom Herman would join Texas A&M. Only one voter had him ending up at Texas.
Big 12 Expansion
We surveyed media members about Big 12 expansion, asking what the conference would look like in 2020. The Big 12 decided against expansion. Only one of 25 respondents thought the Big 12 would stay at 10 teams. A majority (56 percent) thought the Big 12 would add two teams. The most common choices for additions were Houston (92 percent) and Cincinnati (72 percent).
Media members, by a 24-2 margin, thought Hillary Clinton would win the 2016 presidential election.