The coaches poll — as well as the AP poll — won't be much more than aesthetic this season, but that didn't stop the fanfare when the first preseason top 25 rankings came out Thursday.
There were four Big Ten teams in the preseason coaches poll Thursday afternoon: No. 6 Ohio State, No. 8 Michigan State, No. 14 Wisconsin and No. 22 Nebraska.
Thanks to the new College Football Playoff and its selection committee, the coaches poll and AP poll have no bearing other than perhaps some guidance on which four teams eventually play in the four-team playoff for the national title. Plus, the CFP will be releasing its own poll midway through the season.
But, that doesn't mean the two polls that have been around a while are going anywhere.
Ohio State and Michigan State are viewed as the conference's two best teams, and their inclusion in the top 10 doesn't surprise. The only interesting note here is that Oregon is also in the top 10 (No. 4), setting up a likely battle of top-10 teams in Week 2 when the Spartans visit the Ducks in Eugene.
The rankings for Wisconsin and Nebraska are a bit more surprising. The new Big Ten West Division is certainly more of a mystery than the East (where the Buckeyes and Spartans reside), and it's a little odd to see the Badgers ranked so highly. They are the favorites in the division, but they need to replace an awful lot of talent despite the return of Heisman-candidate running back Melvin Gordon. The Huskers, meanwhile, have their own star running back in Ameer Abdullah, but they are coming off a less-than-ideal season. Add to these facts the competition that could come from Iowa and Northwestern — two teams that could be as good if not better than the Badgers and Huskers — and there might be some explaining for why each got the somewhat high ranking they did.
Still, it's important to remember the almost zero effect this poll, be it now or at the end of the season, will have on which teams are competing for a national championship.