Football, NCAAF

Why the Early Season Poll Means Nothing.

I have never been a fan of preseason polls.  I believe most polls should come out around week 6.  The early season polls however only serve 1 actual purpose, to hype up the matchups for television ratings.  The rankings are based off a mix of the team’s performance from the previous year, hype from the media, recruiting rankings, and tradition of a program.

The first flaw with basing a ranking off of how a team finished last season is because they aren’t the same team.  Look at Penn State for example.  The Nittany Lions lost Saquon Barkley, Mike Gesicki, and DaeSean Hamilton on offense.  Since the CFP committee screwed Penn State 2 years ago, the media and coaches NOW want to give respect to the program and start them off in the top 10 but it’s too late.  They should have had a chance to win a championship but in 2016 they started the preseason…Unranked.

They then went on to win the BIG 10 conference championship and missed out on the Playoff because the perception of the program hadn’t been a winning one in recent memory.  Penn State instead had to wait until week 9 to be ranked but the damage was done.  If Penn State won the BIG 10 this year, they would undoubtedly play in the CFP.

One major problem with early college football rankings is you shouldn’t have to build a winning program before getting a chance to play for a championship.  College Football teams turnover every year, this isn’t the NFL where you can basically have similar teams with the same players for multiple years.  Most teams like Boise State, UCF, Utah, TCU, etc had teams that were capable of playing for and winning national titles but they were forced to prove themselves first.

College Football rankings and biases in the media ruin history by not allowing teams that are the best in one year to play the best that same year.  People clamored against UCF but now the coaches are gone, NFL athletes are gone, and more players will be gone next year.  College Football needs to start respecting the teams in the year they are playing because next year will be a completely different team and the players deserving of the honor will miss out on the opportunities they earned.

Secondly, the rankings contradict themselves on a weekly basis.  Maryland beat a ranked Texas team Saturday.  Naturally, Maryland should be ranked as they were 1 of 5 teams to beat a ranked opponent in week 1 and the only 1 in a game that wasn’t between 2 ranked teams.  So why isn’t Maryland ranked in week 2?  Are they not deserving?  Florida and South Carolina squeaked into the #24 and #25 spot from their REALLY IMPRESSIVE victories against Charleston Southern and Coastal Carolina.  Yet, Maryland, Ole Miss, nor Northwestern can’t even get more than 28 points in the polls after beating Power 5 teams.  So I guess the previous weeks poll means nothing then if there isn’t even an acknowlegement of validity from the previous week.

So why does the preseason poll exist in the first place?

I’ve just given 2 very small samples for discrediting the poll, but the obvious answer is simple:  #14 Michigan at #12 Notre Dame looks a lot better than Michigan at Notre Dame on tv graphics, in the news papers, and on internet articles.  It’s why seeing #25 LSU stomp #8 Miami was more dramatic than simply watching LSU beat Miami.  If you took away the rankings people would’ve turned on the game and saw that LSU was bigger than Miami and a lot more physical.  They would’ve turned off the game and thought LSU was a top 10 team and Miami was the #25 team.

I’m not a fan of rankings this early but I believe you can at least acknowledge good teams and quality wins.  When we look back in week 12, while we’re trying to decide quality wins, we should all make sure we look at the “ranked” opponents and determine if they are still ranked or if the game was a quality win at the time the game was played.  The rankings will determine themselves throughout the season, just don’t put too much weight in the numbers right now.

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