College Football Poll Lunacy…Again
Sorry in advance for the geeky sports rant…but I can’t hold it in any longer.
From this weeks AP poll. Huh?
Okay, everyone knows that college football polls are a little looney, but lately, with every week bringing upset mayhem, the poll participants have completely lost their minds. The only poll these days that makes any sense seems to me is the College Football News poll which is done editorially rather than by massive vote (it appears, anyway), and they justify the position, along with stating why the team should be higher, and why they should be lower. They use common sense and analysis to make the picks about who is better than who right now. Tonight, I’m not even going to touch what my friend Steve Roach, a huge BYU (Mountain West) fan, calls the football cartel (BCS)…I’ll stick with the ‘creative ranking’ even in the major conferences when it comes to the polls, just to keep it interesting and more challenging. [more]
Obviously, as a huge ASU Sundevil Fan, I come at this completely biased…but I’m not even most upset about where we are ranked…so maybe my analysis here can still be somewhat trusted. Probably not, though. So, that said, my beef is with the AP and the Coaches polls. I generally put more credence in the AP poll; I think the coaches only really know the teams that they will play that year…so they’re probably less qualified than the geeky sports journalists all over the country who have nothing better to do than pontificate. I know…that’s what I’m doing now, the irony is not wasted on me. I would call what I’m doing more of a rant than pontification, though. Settled.
So while the AP poll may be a little more reliable than the Coaches poll, the collective poll-ees have now lost it. First of all, why is Ohio State numero uno? Does anyone really think that Ohio State could beat every other team right now? Isn’t that what number one is supposed to mean? I realize that tradition dictates that if you loose, you drop. I think tradition is sometimes really stupid though, and here is my best example of why, in this case, it’s silly.
Cal and Oregon play in arguably the best conference in football this year…and probably undisputedly at least in one of the top two conferences (yes…I already admitted my bias). Its a tough conference to play in, they beat each other up. Cal and Oregon are both good football teams. Very good, actually. They have the exact same record (both in and out of conference) at 5-1 (2-1 in the PAC 10). So the question has to be asked. Why is Oregon ranked 3 spots higher than Cal? Is it because Oregon lost to a better team than Cal lost to? It’s true, but the logic is absurd! Oregon lost to Cal! Doesn’t anybody realize how stupid this is? Actually, I think the reason that Oregon is ranked higher is because Cal lost more recently; this is another of those stupid traditions of the polls. Absurd. I can’t even follow the circular logic of this whole mess without getting a headache.
So, let’s say it really should be all about who has lost more recently (which it shouldn’t) and about who is undefeated (see Ohio State comments above). How do we explain, then, how there are 11 teams without perfect records ranked above 7-0 Hawaii (including a team with two losses, Florida)? What’s that? Hawaii doesn’t play anybody? NEITHER HAS OHIO STATE! When a team can claim Washington and Purdue as their stepping stones to the number 1 slot, something is wrong. While I admit, to this point in the season, ASU has had a nice schedule for winning, we’ve beaten more quality teams than Ohio State…and we’ve got a much, much tougher schedule coming up with which to prove or expose ourselves. Even so, we trounced Colorado, Stanford, and Oregon State in our path to 7-0. Ask (then) top 5 ranked Oklahoma, USC, and Cal if these are patsy teams. So why then, is ASU ranked 12th in the AP and Coaches polls while Ohio State is ranked 1st? That leads me to my final “tradition”. It matters where you start in the polls at the beginning of the year when nobody knows anything about anything. Why is this? Lunacy. Just look no further than Notre Dame and Michigan to see that nobody knows anything at the beginning of the season. Back then, USC already won the national championship, Michigan was a national powerhouse, LSU was unbeatable (except by USC), and Notre Dame was going to win 9 games. Fast forward 7 weeks and USC has been exposed, Notre Dame is a joke, Michigan is a laughing stock (and shouldn’t be in the top 20), and LSU proved to actually be kids playing a game on a field with other kids…amazing.
So, let’s recap. First, what everyone who knows nothing about anything at the beginning of the season thinks about your team has a huge bearing on where you end up, no matter what happens on the field (read it a couple more times…it’ll make sense eventually). Second, when you win winds up whisking you inexplicably up and down the polls, regardless (or irregardless for my buddy, Todd) of who you win or loose against. Finally, the inconsistency of when they apply these “rules” and to whom is incredible.
I can’t help it…the sarcasm is coming. Ohio State has to be number one…they’re undefeated, and everyone else lost, right? Well, ya, ASU and Kansas, and BC and South Southern Eastern Florida Tech Poly (what is it again, South Florida???) is undefeated, too…but, I don’t know, Ohio State started higher…and oh ya, they scored a lot of points and didn’t let their opponents score very many. Someone should remind the journalists and the coaches who Akron, Kent State, and Northwestern are…nobody.
That said, if you leave the logic up to the machines, we get a little more reasonable. The BCS standings have ASU at number 8 (see screenshot above) which adds computers into the mix (analyzing strength of wins based on who has beat whom) etc. College Football News actually has the Sun Devils at 6th. Both of those seem more reasonable than the other guys. I’m not saying that we should end there…there is a lot of testing to be done. Over the next 4 games we will play Cal, at Oregon, at UCLA, and USC. Like I said earlier, we will either prove ourselves or expose ourselves, but one thing is for sure. It will become clear who the best team is in the PAC 10 is, which may translate into the best team in the country. At least the most worthy to play LSU in the national championship game, because the way I see it, the winner of the PAC, whoever that might be, and LSU (unless they self destr
uct), will be the two best teams in the country. It should be fun.
I still think there is a decent chance that ASU could meet Ohio State in the Rose Bowl for a rematch of sorts of the squeaker that got away from us in ’97 (’96-’97 football season). If ASU takes second in the PAC-10 (and whoever takes the PAC goes to the National Championship Game) and Ohio State wins the Big 10 (but looses a couple of games, which I think will happen), that should match the two teams up again.
I should also call out that there is one journalist in the AP poll, from Georgia I think, that is voting ASU number 1 (their one first place vote). His reasoning is that ASU is the only unbeaten team left in what he considers the best conference in football, so until they loose, they are number one in his mind. At least there’s an explanation of logic behind this. I don’t necessarily agree with him, but as a Sun Devil fan, I’ll take it. We’re number 1, baby!