Sep 29

The Polls: Now More Than Ever

Posted By:Brett Haynes - Greenville, SC  Tags:

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We painted the inside of my house the last two days, so perhaps my head is a bit in the clouds, but here is something to think about...Recently I have been thinking that the polls are dumb and just dont matter anymore. I mean, "upsets" happen twice a weekend anymore and teams are ranked behind teams that they have actually beaten. But then I got to thinking a bit deeper about the top 25 and what it is, and I changed my mind. I think it matters now more than ever really. The reason is simple: there are so many dadgum good teams and players out there anymore that it is crazy.  
In the days of old, if you were a decent enough team, you would find yourself ranked. If you were a big-name program and had any reason at all to be in the top-25, that is where you would be. Now though, that is not neccesarily the case. The game has changed drastically over the last ten years (even the last few years) as the TV and the internet have really spread the word about these lesser known schools. In turn, these lesser known schools have gotten better players and improved, and now a good 50 or 60 quailty teams dot the landscape each fall. I used to believe there were 30 to 40 really good teams at the top level of college football, now I believe there are many more.
So what does that have to do with the rankings? Well, it makes being ranked that much more of a prestigious thing. Now hold on, I'm not saying that being ranked number 23 in America is a reason to make a plaque for the trophy room. But what I do think is that with as many good teams out there as there are, being listed in the top group of 25 is something that shouldnt "mean nothing". It does mean something actually; it means your school's name - your pride, your favorite worshiped team - is ranked among the best teams in the land by other people. Regardless of who did what or who won by how many points or blah, blah, blah, your team is up there listed with the best. Say what you want, you all know deep down inside you love your ranking when you have one. If you say you would just as soon be number 26 than number 25, I dont believe you. Period.
So with that said, I will also say this: I think that the rankings should be nowhere in site until after the games of week five are played. In the case of 2009, that would be six days from now. This would allow the rankings to be based off of record and off of performance and off of shear enjoyability to watch play football, rather than based off of last year's record and how many offensive linemen were coming back.
I would love to see five weeks of games where teams didn't have a little number beside their name telling you how good they were "supposed to be". Rather, let them all play for five weeks, then decide the rankings. That way the little numbers beside teams names didn't have people thinking preconceived things as they watched the games. After five weeks of watching games and deciding for ourselves who we like (without being told who is good and who isnt), I think the polls would be a little more accurate.

We all know polls have flaws, and I listed a couple of those flaws above. But the polls are what they are, and we all love them. Even if we love to bash them, we love them. We love to know where we stand, and we love to know what other people think about our team. We love to say we could beat a team ranked ahead of us, and when we do that, it is fun to enjoy. Let's face it - we love it when a "top-ranked" team comes to town. We love the polls even if we hate the polls.

So in conclusion, I will say that the polls - even if flawed - are just as entertaining today as anytime before. Maybe the number 6 team would lose to number 18 if they played, and maybe number 18 would lose to an unranked team if they were to play. That isn't the point. The point is that there are 50 or 60 good teams out there, and only 25 spots in the polls. If your team - for whatever reason - finds itself ranked anymore, that means you must be doing at least something right.

It is tougher to be ranked than it used to be. It just is.


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