College Football Polls: The Essence of Dumb

More confusing, this thing or the polls?

More confusing, this thing or the polls?

Everybody knows that college football’s ranking system is a little out there. It’s rare when everyone agrees on the results, yet everyone still talks about it, because shit, what else do we have to do? But in 2009, the upsets have turned the major polls into a beacon of disarray and discombobulation.

In the AP Poll and the USA Today Poll, the first nine are all the same. I have no major beef there as Florida, Texas, and Alabama start things off. Then LSU, Boise State and Virginia Tech are in spots four through six. And USC, Oklahoma and Ohio State follow them. Then it gets wild.

The AP has Cincinnati 10th and TCU 11th, while the USA Today flips them. After that, the two polls can barely be considered similar. Since the AP Poll doesn’t matter when it comes to the even more nonsensical BCS rankings, we’ll choose to ignore it until it proves a point of mine, when I’ll bring it back with a venegence.

Oklahoma State (3-1) is ranked 12th, exactly three spots ahead of the undefeated (3-0) Houston Cougars. Houston has staked its claim as a potential BCS-buster by beating Big 12 squads Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. At Oklahoma State. By ten points. But what’s that? Didn’t you say that Houston is ranked behind OSU? And they beat OSU on the road, and are still undefeated? That makes ZERO sense. Oh, that isn’t all.

Penn State (3-1) is coming off a tough loss, getting owned by Iowa at home. They dropped all the way to 13th in the USA Today poll. Four spots ahead of 4-0 Iowa. As my main man Dennis Reynolds would say, “Awful. Take a lap.” REALLY?!? Iowa went into Happy Valley on Saturday night and beat down Penn State, 21-10. And by Sunday morning, they were already deemed worse than the Nittany Lions? How the hell does that make sense?

Remember Oregon? They lost 19-8 at Boise State in the opening game of the year. Running back LeGarrette Blount jacked some dude in the face. It was bad. Since then, they have been on fire, including two wins over Top 20 teams. They topped it off by absolutely slamming No. 6 California, 42-3, on Saturday. So it only makes sense that Cal is ranked 19th and Oregon is 25th.

In addition to those ridiculous discrepancies between teams that have already played each other, BYU is ranked 21st while Oklahoma is 8th (BYU beat Oklahoma). Nebraska lost on a last-minute touchdown at Virginia Tech, yet is 18 spots behind the No. 6 Hokies.

Not all of these arguments are created equal. Oklahoma lost by one on a neutral field without its two best offensive players (Jermaine Gresham and Sam Bradford), while BYU lost at home by 24 to a decent but not great Florida State team. Virginia Tech’s only loss was on a neutral field to Alabama, possibly the best team in the land, while Nebraska hasn’t beaten anyone of note. I’m also not saying I know the correct answers, but then again, I don’t get paid to figure it out, so I don’t have to. (If anybody’s hiring, however, I’ve got all the answers. Get at me.)

The point is … you have to let the players settle it on the field. And so there needs to be a playoff system. But since that won’t happen, the next best thing would be fixing the very broken system we currently use. First, there should be NO polls until Week 4 of the season. That allows for preseason hype and last season’s results to be washed away, a few weeks of actual games to set the rankings, and then plenty of time for the truth to shake itself out. Until then, get your mind right, USA Today voters, because you’re making a mockery of yourselves.


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