The random thoughts of a man constantly staving off hypothermia and wolves.
10 August 2008
NCAA football preseason rankings
Preseason rankings in any sport are pointless. They exist to give the sports media something to talk about during the offseason, but can anyone really say for sure how well Brett Favre will do with the Jets or if Derrick Rose will be able to succeed at the professional level?
Nope. And even when there aren't major trades or draft picks involved, teams change way too much from season to season for anyone to accurately predict anything about them for the upcoming year.
But in general, preseason polls are harmless. It doesn't matter if San Francisco is picked as the best team in the NFL in August, because their performance on the field in September and October dictates where they finish in the end and what opportunities for glory they get.
But in college football, preseason polls matter, and they matter a lot. A team that starts the season ranked 56th in the nation has a zero percent chance of making it to a BCS bowl that year. Zero. They can go undefeated and clobber their opponents by 20 points per game, but in the end, they'll probably be ranked in the top 20 somewhere and go to the same type of bowl game a 6-6 team gets invited to.
Meanwhile, a team that starts the season ranked #1 can lose as many as two games and still make it to a BCS bowl. It's ridiculous.
A team like BYU or Utah has to have at least two consecutive dominant years to earn an outside shot at going to the Orange or Sugar Bowl. In a world where non-BCS teams have a tough time recruiting high-caliber athletes, that's tough to do.
I'd like to see preseason polling begin after week four. By that point we at least know who's looking good and who's looking terrible. We'll have seen Michigan get beat by Appalachian State. We'll notice that California is 4-0. We'll have tons of game film on running backs, quarterbacks, offensive lines, linebackers... the better to judge who should be #10 and who should be #11.
Of course, I've heard that coaches don't bother putting any time into their rankings, anyway, and journalists aren't much better, so maybe there wouldn't even be a difference.
The BCS poll doesn't come out until the fourth week, but is mostly influenced by human polling, so again, not much of a difference.
If there was a playoff in college football, the preseason poll would become meaningless as it is in the other major U.S. sports. An undefeated Troy could win the Sun Belt Conference championship and be given a shot at a national title. Would they beat an Ohio State or USC? Probably not. But at least we'd have it proven on the field instead of in the minds of voters.
Take each of the 11 conference champions at the end of the regular season, throw in a wild car slot, and make a 12-team playoff. It'll bring in gazillions of dollars to TV stations, the NCAA, each of the schools involved, etc. etc. It wouldn't affect the student athlete's studies any more than March Madness does. It would be awesome.
But of course, the current BCS members are obsessed with retaining as much money for themselves as they can, never mind the chance that they could make even more in a playoff. Until they suddenly get a clue, we're stuck with the imperfect system of all-powerful voting that rules the beautiful game of college football with an iron fist.
I'm a graduate from BYU-Idaho with a degree in Communications with a print journalism emphasis. I currently work as a test engineer for a software company. I've been married for seven years and have three kids.