Very early top 25 for 2010 season

Published: Friday, January 15, 2010 at 2:35 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 15, 2010 at 2:35 p.m.

The last piece of steak sat on her plate but it never had a chance. Her father reached over, speared it and doused it with A-1 sauce before gulping it down.

This would not be newsworthy except that the father finishing his daughter's meal was Urban Meyer. The Florida football coach has his appetite back.

I ran into Meyer and his daughter Gigi at a local restaurant Thursday night (I swear I'm not stalking him; we just like the same restaurants). Which was good because before I pick my preseason top 25 I need to know how he's doing.

Meyer told me he has gained 10 pounds after losing so much weight because food had lost its appeal during the stressful 2009 season. He has never been one to sleep past 7 a.m. but he's sleeping in now. He is excited about his new coaching staff and his new recruits and especially being at Florida. His leave of absence will start after National Signing Day and he's looking forward to spending time with his family.

Everything points to Meyer returning for the 2010 season but there is still work to be done to get him all the way back. It's just good to see him looking healthy and feeling much better.

On to the top 25 only 7 1/2 months before the first game.

Call me weird but I like to wait until the smoke has cleared to assess the fire damage. We pretty much know what everybody will have next fall although there is still signing day, Cinco de Mayo and the players who will bolt Southern Cal when Ed Orgeron rips off his shirt the first time. The damage has been done when it comes to players jumping to the NFL which is always a good time to reveal my early top 25.

A year ago I had Texas and Florida at the top. Missed it by that much. I have been scolded in the past for doing something as stupid as picking my top 25 based on where I think the teams will finish at the end of the season and paying attention to their schedules when I make my picks. Sorry, that's how I roll.

1. Ohio State: Monkey, remove thyself. The Buckies got it done in a BCS bowl game and have momentum along with Terrelle Pryor. It's his time to become a Heisman Trophy candidate.

2. Boise State: I think the voters feel this is the time to reward a mid-major for going unbeaten. And the Broncos will go unbeaten.

3. Alabama: Everybody is going to pick them No. 1 because of so much coming back on offense and Nick Saban's ability to get the most out of a defense no matter who is playing. But a difficult schedule and the burden of expectation is going to bite the Tide once.

4. Oregon: Coaches in their second seasons tend to prosper, and the Ducks have 19 starters coming back. They have to shake off the disappointment of the Rose Bowl.

5. Miami: I know, the Hurricanes laid an egg in their bowl game. But there is so much talent on this team I think they are ready to have a breakout season.

6. Florida: I had the Gators a little lower originally because of a difficult schedule. But I believe Meyer will be back and John Brantley is ready, so I think they're going to be fine.

7. Virginia Tech: Always a contender in a mediocre conference.

8. Wisconsin: One of the few places where power football still works.

9. Iowa: Kirk Ferentz knows what he is doing, as we saw in the Orange Bowl.

10. Texas: Garrett Gilbert showed promise in the second half of the title game.

11. TCU: Eye-spitting horned frogs are always something to worry about.

12. Pittsburgh: Dion Lewis will be in the Heisman mix this year.

13. Nebraska: The Blackshirts are back even without a man named Suh.

14. Oregon State: Plenty of skill players back, and so is Mike Riley.

15. Georgia Tech: Should be better defensively and the offense is tough to deal with.

16. LSU: If Les Miles spends the summer in time management seminars, Tigers could be awesome.

17. Oklahoma: Bobby Stoops will be missing a lot of talent, but wasn't he in 2009?

18. Florida State: The Seminoles won't be back but they won't be 7-6 again.

19. Arkansas: With Ryan Mallett returning, the Hoggies will be a force.

20. California: Jeff Tedford has another solid team coming back.

21. Penn State: Lost its two best players but plenty of talent in Happy Valley.

22. Cincinnati: Most have them higher but that Sugar Bowl resonates with me.

23. North Carolina: Tar Heels may be ready to make their move.

24. Southern Cal: Insert Lane Kiffin joke here.

25. South Carolina: Is this the year Steve Spurrier finally gets it going?

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at and follow at

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