Saturday brought the clockwork release of the preseason Associated Press Top 25.
For the record, Oklahoma opens at No. 4, while Oklahoma State sits at No. 19, delivering reasonable respect to the state's major programs.
A rite of August, the AP poll has a long and storied history dating back to 1934.
Like many old friends, it's beginning to show its age.
Will death soon follow?
Used to be, the AP rankings, a compilation of sports writer votes from across the country, were relevant in every way. They attached esteemed status to those worthy of a number. They stirred heated debates and mighty claims — “We're No. 1!”
And they crowned the national champion.
Now, not so much.
While the AP still presents a postseason No. 1 and a championship trophy, all eyes instead focus on the BCS standings, which provide both a national title game and what is widely regarded as college football's true champion.
The AP once was a factor in the BCS formula, before the organization demanded in December of 2004 that it be removed from the equation, after a series of controversies surrounded the BCS.
As a result, it rendered itself all but irrelevant.
The coaches' poll, carried out by USA Today and a spinoff of the old UPI rankings, remained involved in the BCS equation. But even the days of the coaches' poll appear numbered.
Two years from now, we've been promised a four-team playoff to produce the national champion, with a committee to be assigned to determine the participants.
And the polls, well, perhaps they'll still be talking points, a peg for who to place on the score scroll across the bottom of the TV, similar to the way they are in college basketball. But not a factor in determining a champion. Not a cause for any drama.
Not really relevant.
“It's just like preseason magazines,” said OSU coach Mike Gundy. “The information in there, for the most part, is irrelevant. But everybody buys them.
“It gives people something to talk about on sports talk radio and at the office. It's just verbiage is all it is.”
OU's Bob Stoops, one of 59 coaches who vote in the USA Today poll, admitted this week that he won't miss the polls when college football arrives at its new era in 2014.
“All coaches have an agenda,” Stoops said. “All coaches are biased, by their conference or whatever. And we have an agenda about where you're at in the poll or where you rank other people. So I'll be glad not to have to do it.”
When the 2012 AP poll debuted Saturday, it looked very much like the coaches' poll (released earlier this month) with the top 15 teams identical in both rankings.
Great minds thinking alike? More like a copycat cop-out, considering recent history. The August rankings seldom resemble January's final poll, meaning there's a lot of guessing — and missing — going on.
Just last year, the preseason AP top 10 looked like this: No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Oregon, No. 4 LSU, No. 5 Boise State, No. 6 Florida State, No. 7 Stanford, No. 8 Texas A&M, No. 9 Oklahoma State, No. 10 Nebraska.
The Sooners finished at No. 16, Florida State No. 23, Nebraska No. 24 and A&M was out of the rankings. And Michigan State, Michigan, Baylor, Kansas State, Houston, Southern Miss, Clemson and Cincinnati all held Top 25 spots after being left out in the preseason.
An identical first 15, as well as 22 of the same 25? Where's the fun and creativity in that?
It's enough to make us all yawn.
And that's the problem for the polls.
“The Associated Press poll is done by the media, so I can't imagine that would ever go away,” Gundy said. “The other polls, there's always so much debate on who should be on them, the criteria for how people are voting. There's a trend moving toward the fans becoming tired of that.”