Photo courtesy of AP Photo
It’s time to get rid of preseason polls in college football.
I get it, trust me I really do. Every college football fan in the country loses their minds when the initial AP Poll is released, and who could blame them. After a long offseason of nothing to follow but afternoon baseball, the typical fan is chomping at the bits to see how the “experts” think their team stacks up against the rest of the country going into the season. It’s a truly exciting time for everyone, but preseason polls are stupid in nature and prove more problematic than useful.
The initial AP Poll of every season has to be one of the most viewed lists of the year, so I’m not faulting the NCAA or the media for making such a big deal out of it. With that being said, other than media attention and faux hype, the rankings provide some of the most inaccurate storylines in the sports world.
Don’t believe me? Look no further than the most recent preseason poll, which has already seen 9 of the Top-25 teams lose through just 5 weeks. Paired with the 9 others who have yet to play a game in 2020 due to COVID precautions and you’re left with just 7 perfect teams out of the original rankings.
This may not seem like a huge deal as it’s well known that college football contains the most hectic regular season in major sports, but let’s take a look at where a couple of those teams ended up. Top-25 Texas A&M took down 4th-ranked Florida last Saturday so surely the Aggies showed up ahead of the Gators in this week’s poll, right? Wrong. Despite a win, A&M remained 1 spot below the Gators in the AP. Iowa State also lost a stunner to Louisiana Lafayette in week 1, yet jumped the Ragin’ Cajuns in the most recent rankings.
No, I’m not proposing there be a place swap everytime one team beats another, but there must be some sort of sense used when deciding these rankings. It’s clearly a possibility to postpone the opening rankings beyond the preseason, as seen with the College Football Playoff Rankings which don’t debut until week 8. In doing so, there would be a steep decline in the amount of “quality wins” over teams that wind up unranked at the end of the season.
With quality wins and strength of schedule being major factors in the playoff committee’s decision, this issue must be addressed. While last season’s LSU team was incredible, a week 2 matchup against the then Top-10 Texas Longhorns played a huge role in the decision to rank them ahead of Ohio State for the 1 seed in the playoff. The same Texas team ended up unranked and barely bowl eligible.
Despite the hype generated among fans and media alike, preseason rankings cause more trouble than they’re worth. They have no place in today’s college football world. The extra waiting, while admittedly tough to get used to, would result in the most truly competitive and interesting college football postseasons that we have ever seen.