10 Things to Change about College Football: Preseason Polls

I think that the preseason polls will be addressed in a future edition of Chocolate News...

This week I continue my 10 part piece on things I would like to see changed in college football. For reference, here are the previous articles:

The BCS

The Bowl System

Conference Affiliation of Officials

Overtime Rules

Early Signing Period

Instant Replay

For this installment, I am going to tackle preseason polls.

Background:

Several polls have existed over the years, with three retaining some degree of importance today. The AP Poll probably still has the most prestige, while the Coaches' Poll and the Harris Interactive Poll both factor into the BCS calculations.

Both the Coaches' Poll started in 1950, when it was then known as the United Press and then the United Press International Poll. The AP Poll was first published in 1934 and has been continuously published since 1936. The first preseason AP Poll appeared in 1950 (and just for the record, the team named #1 in this inaugural edition was none other than Notre Dame). During this season, the second poll was not published until October.

Changes:

First, preseason polls do nothing but stoke the fires of debate for football fans. They give us something to talk about along with a small amount of bragging rights-at least until the season begins.

If it were up to me, I would eliminate them altogether for the simple reason that they are nothing more than a projection of how writers or coaches believe teams will perform over the course of the season. They are largely based on a team's performance the previous season (with heavy weighing applied to bowl games) and have no bearing on their actual performance during the season in question.

However, the real reason why I dislike the preseason polls is because of the impact they have on the final polls. Over the course of a season, writers and coaches typically drop teams that lost in the week prior a certain number of spots (5 or more, depending on the perceived quality of the opponent) which becomes a vicious cycle as the season wears on and makes it difficult for teams with low rankings (or no ranking at all) to climb up the polls.

With so many outlets for information available to the fans today, the preseason polls have outlived their utility. It has gotten so far out of hand that some media outlets publish a preseason poll for the fall the day after the national championship game is played (I'm looking at you, tWWL).

Bottom line, the "official" polls shouldn't come out until at least three games have been played. Even though most programs front-load their schedule with weaker (or lower division) opponents, it still allows a large enough sample size for "experts" to make an "objective" ranking of which teams are the best in the country.

It's just too bad that they will never go away. Maybe we will just have to work on the voters to spend a bit more time (and research) on filling out their ballots.

Related Reading:

Collegepollarchive.com Preseason and Final Ranking History

Wikipedia Entry on the AP Poll

Wikipedia Entry on the Coaches' Poll

NCAA Division I National Champions

Michael Collins' Predictability of Preseason Polls (2011)

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join One Foot Down

You must be a member of One Foot Down to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at One Foot Down. You should read them.

Join One Foot Down

You must be a member of One Foot Down to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at One Foot Down. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9341_tracker