I hate the current poll system, but don’t expect it to go away any time soon. You have to understand that, if a flawed system endures a long time, SOMEBODY must be benefitting from it. WHo?
Well… the great majority of college football coaches and college Athletic Directors like the current system waaay better than the idea of a playoff. Oh, they’ll SWEAR to you it’s because they worry about the toll a playoff would take on players’ grades (yeah, we really believe THAT), but there’s a more plausible reason: if there’s a playoff system, only ONE team wins, and the coaches of ALL the other teams look like losers. Under the current system, DOZENS of coaches get to go to bowl games, and have a chance to end the season on a high note. Hey, if you’re a coach in the 5th year of his contract, and your job is on the line, a victory in the Poulan Weedeater Bowl might be just what it takes to save your hide and your job for one more season!
Now, the MAIN reason the polls are such a joke is this: even IF the coaches and sportswriters who vote are intelligent, honorable guys who make a real effort to cast good votes (and most of them probably are), these guys have NO IDEA whether last year’s sophomores and redshirt freshmen are ready to step up and perform well this year! They don’t REALLY know how strong Ohio State’s defense will be without Andy Katzenmoyer! They don’t REALLY know how the Texas offense will perform without Ricky WIlliams! They’ve never seen UCLA’s new quarterback play, and have no idea whether or not he can carry Cade McNown’s jock strap!
So, when they cast their pre-season votes, what are they basing it on? Nothing much- just hunches, and past performance. Sportswriters play it very safe at this time of the year, and tend to vote for teams that are perennially. They think, “Well, Florida State is a strong program year in and year out, so… what the hell, vote for Florida State as #1 And Penn State is always good… Penn State #2 Let’s see… well, Nebraska is due for a comeback, let’s make Nebraska #3…” It’s guesswork, folks, nothing more, nothing less. Frankly, I don’t think championships should EVER come down to ANYONE’s opinion (including mine). But even if you LIKE the idea of polls, at LEAST postpone voting until week 5 or 6, when we’ve had a chance to SEE teams play!
Another thing that makes the polls a joke is this: SUPPOSE voters assume that Florida State and Ohio State are a powerhouse and rate them #1 and #2 at the start of the season. Then, suppose they ASSUME TCU is weak, and rank TCU #50. Over the course of the season, Florida State and Ohio State go undefeated, but so does TCU. At the end of the season, Fla. St. and Ohio St. will STILL be ranked #1 and #2, and face off in the championship game, while TCU will barely have worked its way into the top ten! In other words, the championship game is a self-fulfilling prophecy! Fla. State and Ohio State are playing for the championship BECAUSE the sportswriters BELIEVED they would, before they had any intelligent reason to! Meanwhile, TCU is out of the hunt BECAUSE the reporters were wrong about their abilities all along!