Column: No. 25 BYU football is ranked, so who cares exactly where?

For the first time in 4,741 days, BYU football is ranked in the preseason AP top 25.

That poll was released in August of 2009, where the quarterback for No. 1 Florida was Tim Tebow and the defensive coordinator for No. 19 Utah was Kalani Sitake.

Yep. That’s how long it’s been since BYU got some preseason love.

In 2022’s first poll released earlier today, the Cougars slipped in by the skin of their teeth at No. 25. Four of BYU’s upcoming opponents landed in the top 25 as well, with Notre Dame and Baylor each proclaimed as a top 10 squad according to the completely bust-proof, never biased and perfectly calculated logic of 62 AP voters across the country.

In unrelated news, 14 of the top 25 teams in 2021’s final poll — including BYU — were absent from last year’s preseason poll. Four top 10 teams last year were unranked in August. Take that for what it’s worth.

I’m not saying and certainly not wishing that BYU will collapse from its No. 25 standing (and its schedule could definitely become either softer or more daunting than it currently appears), but let’s just put preseason polls into perspective here.

It’s nice to be ranked, and BYU has clearly earned such a distinction, but after Sept. 3 it shouldn’t matter whatsoever. When BYU and USF kick off in Tampa, the fact that the Cougars were ranked No. 25 rather than at No. 21, No. 23 or anywhere else will mean nothing.

In each of the past two campaigns, BYU began the season unranked, shot into the top 10 at some point and finished within the top 20. The Cougars are bringing back 88% of their 2021 10-win production. They’re 21-4 since 2020. Jaren Hall is a good quarterback with a high ceiling. These are well-documented facts by now, which is why BYU is perceived as one of the nation’s 25 best teams.

Of course, things can always go south. Preseason expectations love to age poorly. If games were won and lost by preseason polls, Texas and USC might actually be relevant after August every year. I digress..

Sure, 25 of the 62 AP voters kept BYU off their ballots, but the general consensus is that the Cougars are a solid team capable of doing some damage. It’s no guarantee, but it feels like a decently safe assumption. Any BYU success shouldn’t come as a “surprise” in 2022.

Fans need not argue about whether the Cougars were ripped off in the polls. It doesn’t matter if BYU was ranked any higher— just being ranked is all BYU needs at this point. People outside of Provo (besides Salt Lake) view BYU with respect from a national perspective. Fans should be relieved and players should be grateful.

Let me say it again: It’s fun to be ranked, recognition is nice, but it won’t matter for long. BYU doesn’t have to prove anyone wrong anymore (aside from 25 voters). The Cougars just need to show that they belong as one of the 25 best teams in America, and soon we’ll see if Kalani Sitake has the roster to do just that.

Jackson Payne is the lead columnist at Daily Universe Sports. Follow him on Twitter @jackson5payne.

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