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ATVS Roundtable: LSU and Preseason Poll Rankings

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Our panel discusses LSU’s preseason and ranking versus where the Tigers might end up.

NCAA Football: Citrus Bowl-Louisiana State vs Louisville Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Alright, polls are starting to come out, and LSU is about where most of us expect at No. 12 in the Coaches Poll. In the last nine seasons, the Tigers have finished the season with a higher rank than the preseason poll twice — will the Tigers pull that off in 2017?

Dan

Is this the time where I can talk about how weak sauce LSU fans have suddenly become with expectations? We legitimately just fired our head coach because we didn't think a single 8-4 and a bevy of 9-3 seasons was good enough. Or, if you want to be particular, you didn't think the old coach was equipped to bring LSU out of that pattern. Really, people just got tired of losing the same way: strong defense, tedious offense, and the oft-repeated "wasted potential."

So, now, I see a lot of “8-4 would be a good season for ‘this’ team.” Or “8-4 is a good season for a new coach.” The standard is the standard is the standard. It wouldn't matter if we hired O, Herman, the Bear, or God himself. 8-9 wins is a standard we've deemed unacceptable. We just fired a coach for doing exactly that. So don't come at me and say, "Yeah that's a good year." And when I rebuff you, don't tell me, "yeah, but this is a young team" because you know damn sure if Miles was still the coach you'd be griping about that type of performance.

I'm not saying you can the coach for a single sub-standard season, but yes, LSU should achieve a better ranking than 12th. Even with a respectable schedule, LSU needs to win at least 10 games and play competitively in every loss. I just can't believe people are willing to give a leash now after 10 years of not.

Poseur

Amen. And amen. Preach it, brother.

LSU's finishes the past five seasons have been, in order, 14 - 14 - NR - 16 - 13. So 12th seems in line with the past five years, if on the high end of expectations, but barely. We've just made a big show that this is an unacceptable standard at LSU. Paul's right, this isn't about the coach, this is about the program itself. We don't lessen the high standards now that we just committed to them.

Let's also point out that LSU is the second highest ranked SEC team. And that's not unreasonable. I think Georgia is going to kill it this year, but otherwise, the SEC is an underwhelming conference right now. Actually getting to play 12 regular season games for the first time in three years should also help out the ranking, as it has been the rent a win that gets cancelled. Down conference, more games... I think whether LSU meets its preseason rank is rather dependent on how good you think Auburn is going to be. And I have precisely zero faith in Auburn.

LSU played four close games and lost them all last year. Simple regression to the mean could mean that LSU boasts a better record this season with a worse team. LSU's preseason ranking is fair, but it absolutely should be the standard.

Billy

I think expectations are more fluid than that. If this team goes 8-4, yeah, we'll all expect/demand that the record improve going forward, but it's not like we're just going to call it unacceptable and fire another coach over it. This is why I focus on the "how" things happen more than just setting a flat "you must be this tall to ride" sign every season. There are a lot of things that can and will happen.

Which goes back to some of the excitement about this coming season centering on the idea of things just being...different. Even the failures.

Finishing in the top 12 seems doable, but it may be harder than you think. If this is a 9-3 or 10-2 regular season team, that might not get you there depending on the wins and losses. Granted, you'll probably still be right at about 12 or so, but that's where you'll be.

Crissy

I think the trend continues into this year. But I also see the reasoning for thinking it won't. There's been a lot of major changes to this football team and the staff in recent times. There's a big question mark surrounding, well, a lot of things.

It will be interesting to see just how well Orgeron is able to take charge of the team, and if he can continue to make steady improvements in his first full season as head coach. That's everyone's main point of focus this go around.

Personally, I fully expect to see LSU surpass the poll predictions once more, and anticipate a record of at least 9-3 when everything's all said and done That ranking should certainly be higher than 12, too.

PodKATT

More than any time in the past decade, I just can't get a read on this team. And frankly, I don't understand how anyone voting in these polls can either. We are now one or two serious injuries away from a crisis on the offensive line and history shows that will be a matter of when, not if. The language used by the coaching staff and Danny Etling himself about the state of his previously undisclosed bad back makes me question if he's going to be fully healthy to start the year. Arden Key's return to the team has been revised so many times i'm starting to feel expecting him to play against Syracuse seems optimistic. On top of all that, we're asking Matt Canada to prove his offense can truly work at the highest level of college football.

Now that I've made us all depressed, I will say Derrius Guice is going to shine as the No. 1 back this season. And the SEC as a whole looks to be headed for a rough year outside of Bama. We may not be ready in year one under Coach O, but the rest of the league will be bad enough to hide many of the flaws. I wont predict a record, but a regular season finish in the low teens - high twenties, plus a big bowl win, will probably land LSU right where it starts at No. 12.

Jake

Even dating back to the Les Miles Era, 12 was always a convenient spot for LSU. They're too talented to rank really low, but there's too many questions to rank in the Top 10. So slot them 12-14, and either way you can be proven right.

This year, the questions are different — how does the roster hold up as opposed to whether LSU can produce an offense, QB, yada yada yada — but they're still enough to leave LSU right around the nine-win mark, enough to likely assure a Top-20 ranking, but not enough to be in the Top 10. It wouldn't surprise me to see LSU end up right where they start.

Adam

To answer your original question Billy, I don't know and I don't care. There is way too many variables to use that as a metric for success, it depends on what LSU does only to a certain degree, the rest of it is all about how other teams perform.

As far as the expectations thing is going, Ed Orgeron is not going to get fired for losing four games, not in the first year at least. Les Miles didn't get fired just for losing four games, he got fired for losing four games consistently. By Dan's logic, Saban would have been on the hot seat after 2007, and that's not quite how I remember it. It's a transition year, calm down. Rome wasn't build a day. If LSU goes .500 this year then yeah there will be some major red flags going up but take progress as it comes. Like it or not you hitched your wagon to this horse and finding another horse will only put the program even more behind the eight ball.

Dan

Saban struggling a single season while inheriting a team that won 26 games in 4 years AND was hit with sanctions isn't even in the same realm as Orgeron taking over for a guy that went 37-12 over his final four full seasons and kept the roster stock loaded with NFL prospects.

Besides, I already said you don't fire a coach after one bad season. I just don't get why so many people are suddenly cool with the "rebuild" talk if they fired a coach for not getting the most of his talented roster.

Adam

Because with Miles it was a perpetual rebuild after 2011 and you can only call it a rebuild for so long. For Orgeron to come in and have the same amount of pressure leveled against him that Les had is silly and is a surefire way to make sure the program never gets anywhere. It's a new head coach with a team that has a considerable amount of roster turnover with a new offensive coordinator and a second year defensive coordinator. People are cool with a rebuild because it's painfully obvious that's what it is. Under Les the floor constantly got higher as the excuses ran out but the ceiling never budged. Now Orgeron has a fresh slate in his first season (as he should have) to establish himself and set the tone for what kind of program he wants LSU to become.

Should LSU be better than 7-5? Yeah, just by talent alone. But saying an 8-4 or 9-3 year for a first year head coach with a new OC and a second-year DC is disappointing because that's the expectation his predecessor left with is dumb.