Here is something I feel is one of the few problems in college football. Preseason polls have become so accepted as fact, and are so over hyped, but they really have no substance or rational and are only the opinion of a just coming off vacation sportswriter. Why do we put so much stock in these polls and why do we carry them over into the regular season?
Not only that, but these polls appear to carry over a bias into the season. The voters seem to vote week to week during the season based on a combination of inflated records and who was put where in their preseason poll. I think any one who votes or takes part in a preseason poll should be banned from voting in regular season polls. Who would not give into the urge to prove themselves right by putting their preseason pick in a higher slot?
Take Wisconsin for example, this year most preseason polls have them in the top ten or just outside of it. But Tennessee, a team that beat them in the Outback Bowl just 7 months ago without six of its players, three of them starters that are back this year, is ranked six to ten spots behind them. This isn't because voters saw that Wisconsin was the better team that day and just blew the game. I don't think any one would say that. Or because Wisconsin replaces its senior QB from last season with a former Parade All American like UT will do. The main reason for this disparity is that Wisconsin is expected to be 11-1 due to a weak schedule, and UT is in the same division with Georgia and Florida and is expected to finish 3rd. Here is the real problem, these polls carry over to the regular season and aren't seriously adjusted until a loss occurs. In the crazy game of monkey move up that is college football polls, Wisconsin could be in the top 5 before they play what is even close to a quality team. Imagine this scenario using the same two teams, at the end of October UT is 6-2 with losses to Georgia and Auburn. Wisconsin is 6-2 with losses to OSU and Penn State. Who will be ranked higher? My guess is Wisconsin, because they started out higher. They would probably remain in the top 15 while UT struggles to stay ranked. Are they really the better team?
I think this is a real issue in college football especially when most teams only have one real shot at national title every 5 to 10 years but OSU gets to go every year because of a sub par schedule that ends 3 weeks before any one else's does. That only leaves one slot in the title game, better hope Michigan doesn't play them close or the voters could want a rematch. It only took two weeks of coaches screaming and crying to keep that from happening.
OSU and Wisconsin both going 11-1 this year is the easiest prediction in the history of earth. That's why everyone has them in their preseason top 10. So all the preseason guys can tell you at the end of the year how good their preseason poll was. Why not rank them by "I think team A can beat team B" and leave records out of it? Especially later in the season when team A has played 4 top ten schools and has two losses and team B has played one top ten team at home and has one loss. When did win all your games no matter who you played become the basis for having a high ranking? Can you see the flaw in the current system? Don't get me wrong I think OSU and Wisconsin have GOOD teams, but is it really fair to start them off in an elite class every year and then keep them up there because they don't play anyone. Why not wait until after OSU beats USC to put them in the top 5. Now what will happen is OSU will be ranked 2 coming into the USC game and only drop a few spots if they loose. Then we are stuck with them in the top 5 for the rest of the year.
This is also why ESPN and other networks shouldn't slant their coverage to one school over another because one school is more interesting and gets more viewers to the box. It's fine for pro baseball or pro football where playoffs determine a champion but when opinions and polls determine who plays for the championship I don't think it's fair to lean coverage towards any team. Imagine if we did this in the NFL, Dallas and New England would have been preselected to go to the Super Bowl and Eli Manning would still be the Manning that never panned out. I'm not saying change the BCS to a playoff but let's give the rankings a little more thought and research if that is what we are going to use to decide a champion