Controversy always seems to find its way to college football. The majority of the controversy is reserved for the end of the season, when BCS births are determined. But, perhaps the biggest injustices of the college football season occur before a down of football has even been played.
Preseason polls are fun and help sell truck loads of college football magazines. But they give an unfair advantage to teams that are lucky enough to be given, yes given, a high preseason ranking. There are many problems with preseason college football polls.
In college football, every team experiences big personnel changes each year. It is nearly impossible to predict how each team will fare with their new players. Because of this, the traditional power programs receive very favorable treatment in preseason polls. Such treatment gives those teams the opportunity to recover from early season losses, while other teams can be buried by a loss early in the season.
Another problem with preseason polls is that voters are hesitant to own up to their mistakes. A team with a high preseason ranking will usually not be dropped until they lose a game, no matter how bad they look in their ugly wins. The leniency shown to these teams early in the year gives them a clear advantage at a BCS at-large birth.
Preseason polls severely impair the chances of some teams to make a national championship run. Any team that doesn’t start off in the preseason top 10 had better not lose a game, or else they have very little chance of playing for a national title.
Although most college football followers write off preseason polls as meaningless propaganda, they have a huge effect on how the season will unfold. A loss by 2007’s preseason number one, USC, will not derail their national championship hopes. A loss by a lower ranked team would likely end such a dream.
How can college football fix this problem? There should be no Associated Press or Coaches Top 25 polls until conference play begins a month into the season.
By eliminating preseason rankings, voters will be allowed a sampling of football before offering their opinion. This way you don’t have voters playing a game of chance when they fill out their first ballot of the season. Only teams truly deserving of the favorable spots in the polls will receive them.
Best of all, any publication that wishes to do a ranking in a preseason college football magazine can still do so. Fans can still get fired up about the new college football season. Without an AP or coaches preseason poll, however, it wouldn’t be at the expense of some teams.