Gregg Doyel has a great piece today summing up much of my own thinking about preseason college football polls.
Doyel’s opinion – they hurt college football.
As Doyel aptly describes, preseason polls create a “conveyor belt” that simply moves teams along based on where they were ranked before the first game was played, regardless of evidence later gained from actual play on where teams should be. The starkest example of this in the current polls is Boise State ranked 3rd when we now know that their supposed "marquee" win was against a very bad Virginia Tech team. If the pollsters can’t place a team like Boise in the proper spot after only the 2nd week, it can only get worse as inertia sets in and the Bronco roll up wins against lousy opponents.
According to Doyel, the Coaches tried to get rid of the preseason poll, recognizing its weaknesses. Why was it kept? Because the media wanted to keep it, and convinced the Coaches otherwise!
Besides Boise, other examples of ridiculousness of preseason polling in the current USA Today poll include –
The Over Ranked –
- Texas at 4. They’ve played Rice and Wyoming, and rank 72nd in the NCAA in passing offense.
- Florida at 7. Our Gators have struggled to win over Miami (OH) and USF.
- Wisconsin at 11 . Wins over UNLV and San Jose State in which 21 and 14 were scored against the Badgers.
Penn State at 20. A win over FCS Youngstown State, and a loss to Alabama in which they were dominated.
The Under Ranked –
South Carolina at 16. Wins against Southern Miss and Georgia, and the nation’s 12th ranked defense.
Stanford at 19. Just shut out UCLA on the road, and have the nation’s 10th ranked defense.
Michigan at 22. Wins over U Conn and at Notre Dame. Probably the best two wins in college football thus far.
The damning aspect of this is all of these teams are ranked where they are solely because of where they were ranked in the preseason poll. That is the only reason. And that is just plain stupid.
Since the advent of the BCS era, the lowest ranked team ever to win the BCS title was Oklahoma in 2000 at 20th. Most have been considerably better ranked, and no unranked team preseason has ever played for the title. History tells us that, despite what they do, South Carolina, Stanford and Michigan have no shot at the BCS title this year.
So preseason rankings matter very much. Basing so much on so little actual knowledge – apparently to satisfy the media - is idiotic.