Some, mainly Dan Rubenstein and patrons of HardcoreHusky are mocking UW’s preseason hype by pointing to recent mediocre seasons as if UW’s preseason hype were an annual occurrence. Has that been the case? Let’s look.
This website has tracked preseason Magazines for over 20 years.
Since 2011 and the Pac-10 becoming the Pac-12, here are the tabulations of that website based on the 20+ preseason magazines.
2011- 3rd in north
2012-3rd in north, one vote for 2nd, two votes for top 25, #37 overall
2013-3rd in north, three votes for top 25, #33 overall
2014-3rd in north, one vote for 2nd, #22 overall
2015-4th in north
2016-2nd in north (by a hair), consensus top 25 team, #12 overall
This is the first year in 6 years in which UW has been forecasted to finish top two in the north. Before this year, there were only two votes (out of roughly 100) that had UW finishing in the top two in its division.
There was some hype in 2014 as UW finished 2013 9-4, top 17 in most metrics and Chris Petersen would be taking over. Other than Stewart Mandel and one magazine no one picked UW to finish better than 3rd in the division. Most had UW around #25.
Mandel and myself made the assumption that the coach effect would raise UW immediately. It did not. The first season was a disaster as Petersen implemented his approach and many of the older guys did not buy in. However, the coach effect was seen in year two as UW was a better team than the year before (#26 vs. #42 in SRS, #25 vs. #45 in Sagarin) despite losing 5 guys to the NFL and having among the fewest returning starters in the nation. But I digress.
Checking back on 2004-2010 we can see that from 2004 to 2010 UW was picked to finish 7th through 10th each season.
UW was picked to win the conference in 2000, even after going 13-12 the previous two seasons and they did win the conference that year and the Rose Bowl. UW was also picked to win the conference in 2002 which did not happen.
Recently before 2016, the hype for UW at best has been minimal. Other than two years ago there has been virtually no hype for UW since the early 2000s.
Moreover, the hype for UW this year is mostly valid. They return almost everyone from a very young team that finished the year #26 in SRS, #25 in Sagarin and even higher based on S&P and F+/- (Bill Connelly and Football Outsiders formulas).
The best defense in the conference from a year ago has a good chance to be an elite, dominant defense.
The offense should be improved due to the emergence of Browning, Gaskin and Darrell Daniels (who all rate very high based on ProFootballFocus’ methodology) as well as the return of gamebreaker John Ross. However, there are legitimate questions on the offensive line as well as at wide receiver.
What has accelerated the hype is a top-5 Stanford team has to replace six first team all conference players, including the quarterback and Oregon has major questions at QB and on defense.
My opinion is the #17 ranking in the coaches poll seems right. Top 15 is a bit much. Top 10 equals hype overload.