Oklahoma had been ranked in the top 10 in both the Associated Press media poll and the USA Today coaches' poll to start the season every year since the year following its 2000 national championship season. But not this season.
The Sooners are ranked No. 16 in both major national polls, and for the first time in many a season, no Big 12 team is ranked in the top 10 to begin the season. Oklahoma's average starting position in both the AP and USA Today polls since 2001 has been fifth, and in three of the years (2002, 2003 and 2011), the Sooners began the season ranked No. 1 in at least one of the two national polls.
Of course, preseason polls aren't worth even the value of the paper they're printed on. They merely serve the purpose of establishing an initial pecking order in college football, which helps boost fan enthusiasm and interest, build TV viewership ratings and make it harder for teams ranked lower in the pecking order to move up and pass the teams ahead of them as the season progresses.
Most of the top 25 teams come from one of the power conferences (SEC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC), which means practically every week, there is at least one, and generally more, head-to-head matchups of ranked teams resulting in the potential for constant shakeup throughout the polls every week in the season. The reality is, at season's end, the likelihood that the final national polls look the same as the preseason rankings is virtually nil.
As many a wise man has proffered before me: It isn't where you start but where you finish that counts. That, at least, is what the Sooners and their fans are banking on as OU starts the 2013 season ranked outside of the top 10 for just the third time in Bob Stoops' 14 seasons as head coach.
Oklahoma has been a strong finisher under Stoops, ending the season ranked in the nation's top 10 nine times in the last 13 seasons and in the top five in three of those years (2000, 2002 and 2004). In addition, the Sooners have won eight Big 12 championships since 2000 and appeared in three BCS national championship games.
Since winning the national championship in 2000 (the most recent of the Sooners seven national titles in football), Oklahoma has finished outside of the top 25 in the final national polls only one time (in 2009, when OU finished the year at 8-5 overall and tied for third place in the Big 12 South Division).
The Big 12 also has had a good run placing teams in the top 10 in football in the final national polls. At least one conference team - and in many years two or three teams - has finished in the top 10 every year but one since 2000. Last season, when Kansas State was the highest ranked Big 12 team at season end, finishing 12th in the AP media poll and 11th in the final USA Today coaches' poll, was the only year in the new millennium that a team from the Big 12 had not ended the year among the country's top-10 ranked teams.
So the Sooners will start the 2013 college football season ranked outside of the top 10 teams in the country for the first time since 2000. Certainly I don't need to remind anyone in the Sooner Nation how that season turned out.
Who says history can't repeat itself?