Associated Poll: http://msn.foxsports.com/collegefootball/poll?poll=AP
Every year, a couple weeks before Labor Day weekend, the college football preseason polls, coaches and AP respectively, are released. It officially signals the countdown to the best time of year, college football.
I have no personal agenda against the preseason polls, everyone has the right to make prognostications on the upcoming season. My issue with the polls is that they actually matter. Preseason polls have a legitimate tangible effect on the season. Think about that for a second. Before a game is ever even played, or classes start at any of these given schools, the season has technically begun.
I do understand the anticipation of the season, and media members making predictions of how the season will play out. But it is only educated guesses at the end of the day.
Right now, USC is a better team than Alabama. How do I know this you ask? Because the polls told me so. I am not even disagreeing the choice of USC as this year’s national champion, I am vehemently disagreeing with the idea that USC is some how beholden to the #1 ranking until someone proves otherwise.
For the rest of the 2012-2013 season, every other team will be chasing USC for no other reason than sports writers and coaches across the country guessing that they are the best team in the country. If you aren’t as perplexed by this as I am then you can go ahead and stop reading right now.
The mere essence of competition is to determine a winner. Any sport, whether team or individual, keeps score for this very reason. So why in the holy hell before even one game has been played, one week in to fall camp, is there a preseason football poll?
How is this ranking determined you ask? It is determined from the prior season, recruiting rankings and gut feelings. If you look at the AP poll, which to me is the more legitimate of the two polls, it is rarely an accurate indicator of who will be the national champion. There are far too many factors that go into team success including health, referee judgment, and always of course, the lucky bounce of the ball. I do not think any less of the media for inaccurately choosing who the number 1 team in the country is, because it would be unrealistic to expect them to get it right.
Only 10 times in the over 60 years of preseason polls has the AP gotten the national champion correct:
From AP Preseason No. 1 to the AP’s Final No. 1
1952 Michigan State
1993 Florida State
1999 Florida State
The Coaches’ Poll began selecting the top 20 teams on a weekly basis during the 1950-1951 college football and basketball seasons. For the 1990-1991 football and basketball seasons, the poll expanded to a top 25, and it has retained this format since.
The coaches’ poll however has to be one of the most idiotic things in all of sports. You are asking grown men who get paid very well to win, who’s jobs are seemingly always in jeopardy, who go to shady lengths to secure talent for their given university, to be honest and vote with integrity?
Look no further than famed hypocrite USC head coach Lane Kiffin, who at the Pac 12 media day said that he would not vote his USC Trojans as the #1 team in the country. USA today, in an unprecedented move, snitched if you will, and ousted Kiffin. The famed newspaper revealed that he did indeed vote his USC Trojans #1.
First of all, USA today is not supposed to release what the coaches’ vote in the polls until the end of the year. As a fan or a player, I would be irate if my coach didn’t vote my team #1 to start the season. I don’t care if it was this year’s Penn State team. What coach worth anything isn’t supposed to believe in his team?
As the season progresses the coaches poll puts head coaches in a precarious position. They do not have the time to watch as many games as media or fans. Why would they when their entire focus is on improving their own team, the grind of recruiting, and trying to keep track of 115 college kids.
In my opinion, neither poll should be released until week 4 of the season. By that point, every team has played 3 games and the beginning of conference play is about to start. At least by that point, there is enough evidence to get a good idea of what type of team this year’s edition of each school will be. That obviously doesn’t mean there won’t be plenty of shifting in the polls throughout the remainder of the season, but the polls wouldn’t give an advantage to the most “popular” teams. Teams like Notre Dame, Florida State, and even my Michigan Wolverines always get favorable rankings due to their long traditions of winning. But that is not what the polls are supposed to be about. They are not about the past 70 years, but rather the next 5 months.
Ask yourself this, where would the New York Giants have been ranked at the start of last year’s NFL preseason poll? College football has the most exciting regular season in all of sports, there is no need to handcuff the unparalleled drama that surely will ensue by the guesswork of analysts.