The first Associated Press football poll of the season is due out Saturday - but on many ballots, there was already a change before a game was played.
Full disclosure: I turned in my ballot last week. LSU was No. 1, followed by Alabama and Southern California. Then it broke on Friday that LSU star Tyrann Mathieu was dismissed from the team. The AP office in New York then wisely decided that voters should be allowed to consider the information and re-send their ballots.
So here's how mine looked when I re-filed it on Monday:
2. Southern California
8. Florida State
10. South Carolina
11. Michigan State
12. West Virginia
16. Virginia Tech
17. Oklahoma State
18. Ohio State
19. Kansas State
20. Boise State
Also considered: Georgia Tech, UCF, Utah, Washington.
How to handle the Matheiu Effect was a conundrum. On the one hand, he wasn't exactly known as a lock-down cornerback and LSU has plenty of other talent. On the other hand, I was in the Georgia Dome last year when Mathieu single-handedly turned the tide of the SEC championship. He's a dynamic player. There's a reason he was fifth in the Heisman voting.
That's why I moved LSU to third, but not any further down. I still think there's a clear separation between the top three teams and the next group - a separation that may very well be eradicated early in the season.
The first poll of the season is always a crapshoot anyway.