Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Polls or Playoffs?

As you look up and down the two college football polls one has to wonder what people are thinking. Ohio State certainly hasn't performed like a top 10 team, nor has Texas but yet they remain fixed in their places because they won. USC looked flat in its opener but held on to its top ranking in spite of taking a week off while LSU spanked Virginia Tech. West Virginia is entrenched in the top 5 even though the Mountaineers feature a defense that couldn't stop a Pop Warner team from scoring. Never mind that five or six teams ranked outside of the to 10 look much better than half the teams in it,.the preseason poll determined the national champs before a game was played.

BCS advocates will tell us that the BCS rankings take much more into account but the polls carry quite a bit of weight in the final tally. The polls wouldn't be so bad if the people casting their ballots watched every game or at least analyzed the stats to appreciate how teams win. If I'm being objective I can't justify Ohio State being ranked ahead of Oregon at this point in the season and I certainly couldn't leave USC ranked ahead of LSU simply because USC didn't lose. But even if the polls did a better job of analyzing each team, there are still fatal flaws in the system.

Champions should be determined on the field. BCS proponents warn that there would still be controversies over who got into the playoffs and some erroneously argue that playoffs would diminish the importance of the regular season. The enormous success of the NFL proves that theory wrong and while there would be a handful of people crying foul over one or two of the playoff selections, the fact that pretenders and contenders would run a gauntlet to win it all would dry those tears in a hurry. You can't say the same for the BCS.

Arbitrary champions winning paper titles? That's not football.

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