Joint session of college polls
With high unemployment, an enormous budget deficit, a worsening war in Afghanistan and a controversial debate over health care, our leaders took time in recent months to hold hearings about the BCS and to call for a college football playoff system. What's next? Glad you asked...
The Joint Congressional College Football Preseason Poll
Whereas Texas returns 14 starters from last year's 12-1 squad, and whereas this includes Heisman trophy runner-up Colt McCoy, who possesses the coolest name for a quarterback since Sonny Sixkiller, and whereas the Longhorns were prevented from playing in the Big 12 title game last year despite defeating both Oklahoma and Missouri, and whereas Texas Rep. Joe Barton introduced a bill in the House of Representatives that would make it illegal for the NCAA to market a bowl game as a championship unless it was part of a playoff system, the Longhorns are No. 1.
Whereas the Trojans' lone blemish last season was a loss on the road to what turned out to be a very good Oregon State team, and whereas they finished with a 38-24 thrashing of Penn State in the Rose Bowl, and whereas they return nine starters to what is always among the nation's top offenses, and whereas California has more electoral votes than any other state, the Trojans are No. 2.
Whereas Tim Tebow has already won two national championships with the Gators, and whereas he could finish his career with more rushing touchdowns than Herschel Walker, more touchdown passes than John Elway and as many Heisman Trophies as Archie Griffin, and whereas he is equally capable of performing on grass, turf or on water, and whereas he has also provided a key state in the health care debate with a shining example of reform by performing more free circumcisions than anyone in NCAA history, the Gators are No. 3.
Whereas the Utes went undefeated during the 2008 regular season and whipped Alabama 31-17 in the Sugar Bowl to finish the season 13-0, and whereas the Utes return 11 starters, and whereas Utah senior Sen. Orrin Hatch is the driving force behind the Senate Judiciary Committee's investigation into whether the BCS system violates federal antitrust laws, the Utes are No. 4.
Whereas a fan in New Orleans has a series of rather incriminating photos from Mardi Gras 2007, Tulane is No. 5.
Whereas Harvard finished two points shy of an undefeated season last year, and whereas the school is renowned throughout the world for its academic excellence, and whereas when people refer to the Crimson players as scholar-athletes it's one of the few schools where they don't do so with air quotes, and whereas President Obama, who has called for a playoff system, got his law degree there, Harvard is No. 6.
Whereas President Obama earned his undergrad degree at Columbia, the Lions are No. 7.
Whereas Ohio State has won at least 10 games the past four seasons and played for the national title twice, and whereas Ohio State is (like Republicans and Democrats seeking re-election) always strong on defense, and whereas the school has promised a certain congressman (who shall remain nameless) that he will be allowed to dot the "i" in script Ohio if the Buckeyes are ranked as least as high as No. 8 in the country, the Buckeyes are No. 8.
Whereas Notre Dame finally won a bowl game for the first time in years, and whereas coach Charlie Weis now has a complete team of players he recruited, and whereas some of our biggest campaign contributors are Notre Dame alumni who would really be happy and feel very generous if their school was highly ranked again, the Irish are No. 9.
Whereas our brave soldiers, sailors and pilots risk their lives to preserve our liberty, and whereas some of our greatest presidents are alumni of our military academies, and whereas military contracts are the lifeblood of pork-barrel politics, Army, Navy and Air Force are Nos. 10, 11 and 12.
Whereas Oklahoma returns 14 starters from a team that finished fifth in the nation, including Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Sam Bradford, and whereas Bradford threw for 50 touchdowns last season, but whereas Oklahoma's seven representatives and senators are divided over whether to put their limited voting clout behind the Sooners or Oklahoma State, the Sooners are No. 13.
Whereas Penn State returns eight starters from last year's Rose Bowl team, and whereas coach Joe Paterno has been a shining example of college football ideals for four decades in a perennial swing state, and whereas having JoePa successfully coaching a ranked team makes everyone in the Senate feel young, even 92-year-old Robert Byrd, the Nittany Lions are No. 14.
Whereas President Obama grew up in Hawaii, the Warriors are No. 15.
Whereas President Obama also was a senator from the great state of Illinois, the Illini are No. 16.
Whereas President Obama has visited his mother's home state of Kansas, the Jayhawks are No. 17.
Whereas it really would be a hoot after a hard week of legislating to have a Top 20 program nearby, the College of William and Mary is No. 18.
Whereas Boise State went undefeated in the WAC and finished 11th in the AP poll, and whereas it showed what it can do by dramatically upsetting Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl a couple of years ago, and whereas it returns 11 starters, but whereas Idaho has only a meager four electoral votes, and whereas one East Coast senator (who shall remain nameless) asked when Boise became a state (and if it really is a state, why are there still only 50 stars on the U.S. flag?), the Broncos are No. 19.
Whereas America is the world's great melting pot, and whereas the source of our strength is our diversity and our unity, and whereas we should all be proud of our home and adopted states, from the mountains to the prairies to the oceans white with foam, Akron, Alabama, Alabama-Birmingham, Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Arkansas State, Auburn, Ball State, Baylor, Boston College, Bowling Green, Brown, Buffalo, BYU, Cal, Cincinnati, Central Florida, Central Michigan, Clemson, Colorado, Colorado State, Connecticut, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, East Carolina, Eastern Michigan, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Florida State, Fresno State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Houston, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Iowa State, Kansas State, Kent State, Kentucky, Louisiana-Lafayette, LSU, Louisiana Tech, Louisville, Marshall, Maryland, Memphis, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Middle Tennessee, Minnesota, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New Mexico State, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Northern Illinois, North Texas, Northwestern, Ohio, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Oregon State, Penn, Pittsburgh, Princeton, Purdue, Rice, Rutgers, San Diego State, San Jose State, South Carolina, South Florida, SMU, Southern Mississippi, Stanford, Syracuse, Temple, Tennessee, Texas A&M, TCU, Texas El Paso, Texas Tech, Toledo, Troy, Tulsa, UCLA, UNLV, Utah State, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Washington, Western Kentucky, Western Michigan, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming and Yale are tied at No. 20.
Also receiving votes: Washington State.
Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com.
2009 College Football Preview
Will Florida repeat as BCS champion? Which teams will surprise? Who'll walk away with the major awards? ESPN.com's 2009 college football preview has the answers.