Wednesday, August 22, 2007

USC is the consensus No. 1, but should we have polls this early?

USC is ranked number one in both the Associated Press and USA Today college football polls to start the season. In fact, the Trojans are the pick of most experts to win the national championship. They have a lot of experience returning this year especially on defense.

The Southeastern Conference is well represented in both polls. LSU and Florida are both ranked in the top 10. Tennessee is ranked fifteenth in each poll. Also, Georgia, Auburn, and Arkansas are ranked in both polls.

However, I have never understood the need for polls before the start of the season. The polls are supposed to rank the top 25 teams in the country, but how is that possible if no games have been played? True, the preseason polls are largely ceremonial and play an important roll in adding to all the preseason chatter related to the sport. But don't these polls give an unnecessary advantage to teams that have not earned anything yet?

Every year, it seems like there is at least one team that is ranked low in the polls or not at all, but they emerge as one of the top teams. However, because they began so low, it is harder for them to reach the top than it is for teams that are bestowed with high rankings without playing a game.

When Tennessee won the national championship in 1998, we began the year ranked tenth and had to slowly but surely jump teams on the way to the top. Conversely, the Volunteers started the 2005 season ranked third, but we stank it out and finished with only a 5-6 record. Clearly, the Vols were vastly overrated that year.

Polls should not be issued until the first week of October. By then, all the teams have been playing for a month, and we should have a pretty good idea of who the better teams are. It will not guarantee that teams won't get overlooked, but it will greatly reduce the possibility. If we aren't going to have a playoff system, then we must look at ways to refine the current system. And this is one way.


Joltin' Django said...

I dee-test, with a capital "D," preseason polls.

Given the player turnover on college teams from one season to the next, it's impossible to accurately gauge said teams without having seen them compete -- no matter how well they did the previous season.

If you took the last twenty years' worth of preseason polls and listed the teams that'd "underachieved" on a sheet of legal pad paper, you'd fill up the entire page before you made it through all of the polls ... indeed.

Anonymous said...