Long time readers of this blog (all four of you) know that I have made my feelings about preseason polls clear in the past. I understand Lindy's, Athlon, Phil Steele, etc. publishing them...they drive conversation and (presumably) increase magazine sales. The difference with this one is that this poll actually makes up 1/3 of the BCS formula. That is absurd.
Look, the Coaches poll is stupid in its own right. Coaches know their own team, and maybe the ones on their schedule. There is no way they are familiarizing themselves with the rest of the teams in the country, at least not enough to be ranking them intelligently. And, yes, I know that head coaches aren't actually filling out the ballots (which raises a whole other argument)...but I don't think assistants are really paying that much more attention. They're just voting for whomever Herbstreit, Corso, and May tell them to (I don't think anybody is paying attention to who Dr. Lou wants them to vote for...if they were, Notre Dame and South Carolina would play for the MNC every year).
But...a PRESEASON poll? Seriously? And not only a pre-SEASON poll...in many cases, it's a pre-PRACTICE poll! As of the time this poll was published, the Dawgs had not had a full-contact practice yet, and we were one of the first teams to start practicing. How in the world is ANYBODY supposed to rank teams at that point, especially coaches who obviously have their own team as their focus? Who knows which freshmen are going to step up, or how teams are going to adjust to new coaches and schemes, or how badly outgoing players are going to be missed?
Again, if the poll was just for fun then I don't care...but this is ONE THIRD OF THE FORMULA THAT DECIDES THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP. And, unfortunately, where you start can have a lot of bearing on where you finish. Take Boise State, for instance...they start this year ranked 5th. They start the season with Virginia Tech at a neutral site, and then for the rest of the year they play NOBODY. Because they are starting the season ranked so high, they only have to win their one real game, and they are virtually guaranteed of a spot in the championship game. For that matter, since they are ranked so high, they could conceivably LOSE that game (the only one on their schedule), run the table the rest of the way, and be sitting at 12-1 at the end of the year with the idiots at ESPN touting them as real contenders for the national championship.
I'm not a BCS-hater...I'm not a playoff proponent (the only way I want a playoff is if it's GUARANTEED to be no more than 4 teams). But something has to be done about this 33.3% of the formula.
1) Start the poll later. Wait 4-6 weeks before the first poll. By that time, we at least have SOME idea of what the landscape is. I would even support waiting later, but I know that would never happen.
2) Take the coaches poll out of the equation, for all of the reasons I stated before. I would support replacing it with the Legends Poll, which is voted on by a group of former coaches. Every week, they send DVDs to all of their members of all of the games played by teams who are likely to be ranked. After they watch the games (supposedly...hey, no system is perfect), the voters get together on a weekly call and rank the teams. They also publish how they voted every week, a bit of transparency that you only get in the final week of the USA Today poll.
Some other quick musings...
- I was originally going to talk about how it's been almost exclusively good news out of fall camp. Then...today happened. So never mind.
Smith and Samuel being out for any length of time is especially worrisome...as we are installing Coach Grantham's new defense, every possible contributor on defense needs to be getting as many reps as possible.
I hate fall practice.
- It was great to have LIVE football on my television last night, even if it was a crappy NFL preseason game. Congrats to Geno Atkins...former Dawg picked up 6 tackles and a sack. That's how you make an impact!
- If you are looking for a great Braves website, check out TalkingChop.com. Superb content, updated several times a day...and rather than the idiotic commenters you get on AJC blogs (First!!), you get stuff like this, from "Lennox" in celebration of J-Hey's 21st birthday:
Did I ever tell you about the time Jason Heyward took me out to go get a drink with him? We go off looking for a bar and we can’t find one. Finally Heyward takes me to a vacant lot and says, “Here we are.” We sat there for a year and a half and sure enough someone constructs a bar around us. The day they opened we ordered a shot, drank it, and then burned the place to the ground. Heyward yelled over the roar of the flames, “Always leave things the way you found ’em!”Something about the image of that last sentence had me cracking up all day...
Speaking of the Braves, they seem to have righted the ship in the last week or so. They are really reminding me of the early 90's Braves...ridiculously good pitching, and just enough timely hitting to get by. I still wish we would have gotten one more big bat at the trade deadline...I think we're one bat away from being a real World Series contender.
But, these days, all I really ask from the Braves is that they keep it interesting until fall practice starts, and they have certainly done that. Anything more than that is just gravy.
- If you were wondering why so many (myself included) started turning on Brett FaRve even before he started waffling like John Kerry every summer...look no further than this post.
- Summer TV continues to be TONS better than it was when I was growing up. Now that LOST is gone, Friday Night Lights and Mad Men are the best two shows on television, in my opinion (coming from someone who, for some reason, has never watched Breaking Bad).
Speaking of LOST...as a fan of both that show and Weezer, well...this pretty much made my day.