Wednesday, August 20, 2008

What DON'T I like?

Pre-season college football polls. It's one of the few things I don't like about college football.

Here's why I'm not a fan:

Everybody seems to approach them differently. Some people view them as a sort of "power poll" where they rank the teams based on their relative strengths, the "who would beat whom if they played on a neutral field" approach. BTW, if pre-season polls are going to be done, then this should be the premise, in my opinion. The problem with this scenario is that very few who put these polls together have a really good picture of what a team is going to look like after attrition, injuries, new freshmen, new coaches, etc.

Others view pre-season polls as a predictive tool. They look at the returning teams, and try to predict where they will finish based on the returning team, schedule, etc. This approach is the most frustrating to me as a fan, especially since I'm a Georgia fan. I've heard several pollsters use this rationale for ranking the Dawgs anywhere from 3rd to 7th, even while acknowledging that the Dawgs may be the most talented team in the country. The reason this is frustrating is because you KNOW that if the Dawgs lose, these same pollsters will be dropping them in the polls, which means they are effectively punishing the Dawgs twice...once because they anticipate a loss, and then again for the loss that they anticipated.

Obviously, this hasn't seemed to hurt the Dawgs too bad this year, because we are the consensus number 1. The reason it still irritates me is that in the non-playoff world of college football, the decision as to who gets to play for the National Championship is determined in the court of public opinion, and I don't like the narrative that's being written. The first time the Dawgs lose (and it's darn near impossible to go unblemished against that schedule), I'm afraid the media reaction is going to be, "See, they were overrated in the first place...look at that schedule!" and drop us further than they would otherwise.

My solution? Nothing groundbreaking, as it has been suggested many polls until at least 4-5 weeks into the season. Give teams the chance to establish themselves, give the pollsters a chance to see what the teams can really do, and then let's start deciding who would be ranked where.

This will, of course, never happen. Number one, it makes too much sense, and the NCAA ain't all about that. Number two, TPTB love the pre-season polls, as it gives us something to talk about for the 3-4 weeks leading up to the season. And with this post, I'm feeding that beast.

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