Column: College football pollsters are lazy; here's a new methodology
The college football pollsters are a lazy bunch. In today’s world of sports analytics, statistics, probable winning percentages and other calculations that are difficult to even understand, why are college football polls still using the same methodology as 50 years ago?
Everyone says the preseason polls shouldn’t matter, but what happens? End of Week 1, teams are moved up or down from the original preseason poll based on winning or losing.
I say throw the preseason poll out the window. In fact, throw each week’s poll out the window and totally rework it each week. Don’t just move teams up and down, move teams to where they deserve to be based on the new knowledge of each week. Stop being lazy!
What have we learned (so far) after Week 2 of college football? We’ve learned that most teams have played nobody with only a few exceptions.
Only two teams have played two real teams. Both have played an actual road game, and both are 2-0.
That makes the top two teams in the nation (as of now folks, don’t freak out, this poll changes every week!) BYU and Notre Dame. Sure, both have had crazy comebacks and some of you aren’t fans of either or both, but stay with me. Use your head not your heart.
What are the others deserving of a ranking after Week 2? Each of the teams below have played a cupcake and a real game. Each has won both games, but at least the non-cupcake is against a team that at this point seems to represent a valid opponent.
|Michigan State||Beat Oregon|
|Texas A&M||Beat Arizona State|
|Oklahoma||Won at Tennessee|
|LSU||Won at Mississippi State|
|Ohio State||Beat Virginia Tech|
|TCU||Won at Minnesota|
That’s all, folks. Only 14 teams deserve to be in the Top 25 so far. This weekend we may learn that Stanford is terrible, or maybe we’ll learn they’re great depending on what they do against USC, and that should have bearing on Northwestern.
But that’s how it should work. The new poll will have new information. Poll voters should completely re-rank teams each week.
I know, some of you are unhappy because your team isn’t on the list. That’s right, Clemson (just using you as an example), why should you be ranked? In my book your record so far after two weeks is 0-0 due to wins against Wofford and Appalachian State.
Georgia Tech plays somebody on Saturday (Notre Dame), but they also have a record of 0-0 with wins against Alcorn State and Tulane.
I’m not picking on the ACC, so Baylor it’s your turn. Really? Wins against SMU and Lamar are deserving of a top-5 ranking?
I’m a Mizzou fan, but seriously folks, so-called “wins” against Southeast Missouri State and Arkansas State are not deserving of a ranking either. Auburn dropped 12 spots after getting lucky against Jacksonville State? How about dropping out of the entire ranking? That seems more appropriate. They’ll have plenty of chances to get back in if they beat some good teams.
If college football moved to a system with the above methodology, teams would be forced to play real non-conference schedules — not just one game against power-conference opponents outside of the SEC schedule, as this conference has mandated starting in 2016.
Look back at schedules in the 1970s. Everyone played a tough non-conference schedule. Everyone! We’d get better matchups. We’d get great games between conferences that we rarely see outside of bowl games. We’d have a much better understanding of who the best teams are, and the choices of the playoff teams would be much more informed.
Think about it. It would be great for everyone, but mostly it would be great for college football fans.
Stop being lazy, pollsters. This is football, not a beauty contest and definitely not Olympic figure skating.