I released my RC2 version a few days ago and didn't receive any comments. I have looked over a number of other releases, and have determined that I'm not going to make any changes unless I get some feedback that convinces me otherwise. My general feeling, without a lot of fussing, is that the first ballot is primarily guesswork.
My methodology? Look at what the team did last year, excluding minor bowl games. UCLA getting destroyed by Florida State is discounted as an anomaly. Look at returning starters and what key positions are missing. I'm guessing that I give more credit to turnover on the offensive and defensive lines than most do because those positions are key to me. I give more credit to traditional 'power' programs than lesser knowns because reality dictates that traditional powers have more depth at every position than everyone else - therefore it's easier for them to replace starters. I don't give much consideration to who might beat who if they went head to head because at this point, we don't know anything about that (with the possible exception that USC could beat everyone else in the nation).
I thought about replacing Oregon State with Oregon, but it was OSU that beat USC last year and they return a gob of guys including their entire offensive line. I realize they're the only Pac-10 team without a returning starter at quarterback. I thought about dropping Georgia, but given that their first game is with Oklahoma State, we'll know soon enough how good they are, especially on defense as Okie State has the ability to shred them if their defense has any problems.
Note that I have not ranked Arkansas. They probably should be ranked, and I've seen a #7 ranking for them. If you were going to rank them, where would you place them and whom would you remove?
Maybe Cal should drop, but they'll play Tennessee the first weekend and then we'll know where to put them.
There are several teams that could fill out the last ten. Alabama, who I'm not ranking until they prove something on the field and I'll make no bones about the fact that I'd like to see the Saban fail miserably. Oregon, which is ranked by many others. Boston College, who returns a ton of starters. Before I rank Florida State or Miami I want to see something that resembles offense. Iowa? No, Kirk Ferentz' program seems to lack energy.
South Carolina? They'll play Georgia in the second game. If they're any good, they'll move up. Barring some miracle, they're not going to be a top ten team by any means.
I thought about having more class and removing Notre Dame because they don't belong there but does anyone really get worried about being ranked 25th?