Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Why the Top 25 in September?

For many years, the college football Top 25 polls have been major sources of controversy. Year in and year out, it always seems that at least one major college football power gets screwed over. The BCS system has received unparalleled criticism in the light of several prominent national championship debacles, and the Top 25 polls have been in the midst of end-of-season controversy since the beginning of time with USC, Auburn and Michigan as the most recent victims of controversy.

At this point, all of you think you know where I am going with this one: institute an all-encompassing playoff system. Ha…fooled you. Well, I do think that college football should institute a 16-team playoff. But, ultimately, I believe that college sports will always have to deal with some form of controversy surrounding the decisions of the powerful few. When college football finally moves to a playoff format, there will be controversy over who gets left out of the playoffs.

Let me remind you of all of the conspiracy theories that perennially go down on college basketball's Selection Sunday, despite the popular belief that the 65-team tournament is one of the greatest events in sports.
I actually hope to convince you that college football's Top 25 polling system needs reform, not at the end of the season when national championships are on the line, but rather at the beginning of the season when voters are most uninformed.

After another exciting win this week for LSU over Virginia Tech, the Tigers remain in the polls' second place behind a USC team that has yet to play any formidable opponent. How can the voters really judge the Trojans to be better than LSU at this point. Why not wait a week or two until they have more results to analyze?

Last week, we marveled at the accomplishment of Appalachian State becoming the first I-AA school to beat a team ranked in the Top 10 in the country. Well, as it turns out, Michigan probably should never been in the Top 10. The Wolverines dropped to 0-2 this week after getting embarrassed in the Big House by the Oregon Ducks.

Not to discredit the achievements of Appalachian State's football program, but I personally don't believe that the Mountaineers beat the country's fifth-best team. However, the record books will always reflect the accomplishment in that light.

I suggest that Top 25 polls of all sports, but most especially college football, should not be released until teams play at least one or two games. One might argue that there's no reason to do that since the polls don't matter until November anyway. Well, yeah. Why should we worry about a system in which the voters are uniformed and it admittedly doesn't matter. Let's just wait a few weeks and then the initial picks will be more accurate. That solution doesn't hurt anyone. Well, except maybe Michigan.

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