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READERS RESPOND: SHOULD THERE BE A PRESEASON POLL?


Mitchell Blatt


Hank W Thinks No

I wrote last week that preseason college football polls are perfectly fine and that people who railed against their unfairness were wrong. Recently, I have recieved email from someone named Hank who thought that the polls were unfair. Here is what he had to say and what I replied to him.

Maybe it is because the polls are used to determine who plays in the
BCS championship, and starting out on top gives a team a direct
competitive advantage over other teams in that regard? Picking a
Super Bowl winner doesn’t give a team any advantage in winning the
championship; being ranked #1 does.

(My responces are paraphrased, because my inbox didn’t save the sent emails.)
Yes, but by the end of the season, the teams will have played each other enough that the voters will have been able to change their opinion based on the results.

If three teams go undefeated or there are a bevy of one loss teams
they will fall in according to their original ranking, that is why
there it is an advantage. Preseason polls handicap suprise teams. Do
you remember 2004? How USC and Oklahoma started the season ranked 1-2
and then ended it that way? Problem was, Auburn also went undefeated
and played a much, MUCH harder schedule than Oklahoma, as the Tigers
beat 4 top 15 teams during the season. Oklahoma beat one. Auburn was
the better team, just look at the ridiculous talent they had on that
squad; Ronnie Brown, Carnell Williams, Jason Campbell, and Carlos
Rogers. So why was Oklahoma still #2? Because Auburn started the
year at #17, that is why. Being higher in the preseason poll has a
direct impact on the national championship picture, period. And oh
yeah, Oklahoma was obliterated by USC 55-19 in the championship game.

That’s because USC and Oklahoma were thought to be better than Auburn. The reason they were ranked #17 at the start of the season was because people didn’t think they were good enough, and they hadn’t gained enough supporters during the season to overthrow Oklahoma or USC. The poll simply showed that people didn’t expect them to be good. It didn’t make people downgrade them. It reveals opinion, not creates it.

Well, I guess I will just agree to disagree. I see what you are
saying, I just feel that there is a human element of wanting your
pre-season pick to be “right” that would enter into people’s minds in
a situation like 2004. In the end, there are many things in college
football that need to be fixed before pre-season polls do.

What do you think? Post your opinion in the comment section.

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About the Author

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