Just Why Do We Have Preseason Polls?

Many an argument has been leveled against the system of college football. You can think what you want about the BCS and a playoff, but one thing remains certain- no one understands preseason polls. What are you even ranking, expectations? Surely you can’t be ranking performance on the field. Yet let’s look at the preseason poll and how it stacks up to the current top 25 after just one month:


Preseason AP Top 25
Alabama
Ohio State
Boise State
Florida
Texas
TCU
Oklahoma
Nebraska
Iowa
Virginia Tech
Oregon
Wisconsin
Miami (FL)
USC
Pittsburgh
Georgia Tech
Arkansas
North Carolina
Penn State
Florida State
LSU
Auburn
Georgia
Oregon State
West Virginia


Week 4 AP Top 25
Alabama
Ohio State
Boise State
Oregon
TCU
Nebraska
Florida
Oklahoma
Stanford
Auburn
Wisconsin
LSU
Utah
Arizona
Arkansas
Miami (FL)
Iowa
USC
Michigan
South Carolina
Texas
Penn State
North Carolina State
Michigan State
Nevada

Now looking at this you will see there are 7 teams, or a nearly 1/3 of the top 25, that were not ranked in the preseason. The highest is #9 Stanford, followed by other top ranking teams in #13 Utah and #14 Arizona. Chances are Arkansas was really only a play or two from top 5. So who was ranked in the preseason that no longer holds a ranking?78 teams obviously, and the highest ranked was Virginia Tech who was #10 and #6 in the coaches poll. Pitt, Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Florida State were a few other disappointments.

Now what are some reasons undefeated Utah, TCU and Boise State in the past have not gotten to play for a BCS championship? Strength of schedule, right? They can never be ranked ahead of an SEC team because they don’t play has tough a schedule. Is that so? Well then, pray tell, why does Oregon currently sit at the #4 spot? For their big win over Portland State? Their close call against Arizona State? They have played nobody. What strength of schedule?

How about #6 Nebraska? Was their impressive 17-3 win over a lowly FCS team at home a #6 performance? Because of the stiff competition they received from South Dakota State or Washington, Idaho or Western Kentucky? I’m sorry but there is 0 strength of schedule for the Cornhuskers, none whatsoever. Think it’s just a coincidence?

Look at Wisconsin, USC, Michigan, Texas, or Penn State! Who have they beaten that merits any kind of top ranking? Some of those teams have in fact lost! So which is it? At the end of the season we get the whole strength of schedule argument. You can’t use it this early, so why is Boise State ranked behind anyone? They have wins over two ranked teams, a top ten team in Virginia Tech and #24 in Oregon State. And only one was at home. What did Alabama do? Pound puny teams and then mount a crazy comeback on the road? What did Ohio State do? Pound puny teams at home with a game yet on the road? Must be a hard strength of schedule to have 8 home games…yes, 8, as in all of their non-conference games are at home.

So they can’t be ranked by strength of schedule, what are they ranked by now? By preseason ranking of course! People had it in their mind who the best two teams in the country already were before a single kick off! So as long as they simply don’t lose they will remain the top two teams, regardless of how everyone else plays. One would think with so much banking on the preseason rankings that they might be important. Oh no, they’re not, just people looking at last season, who went to the draft, how recruiting fared, etc. Very scientific poll.

The preseason rankings have absolutely got to go. I’ve got an even better idea. If we have to keep preseason rankings, then your preseason ranking is equal to your final ranking the previous year. Then once teams have actually played we can determine if they are good or not. Then the rankings shift around to where they should go. Then we don’t get first place votes for Texas in the preseason when they CLEARLY were undeserving of such merit.

My only hope is that Boise State and TCU are the only two undefeated teams at the end of the year. That would be fantastic. You know neither would play for the championship and that they would still get put against each other instead of BCS teams in their bowl. Oh the protests that would arise…one step close to a real playoff.

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