It the grand gesture that leads us into the college football season, the releasing of the preseason polls.
On Thursday, USA Today released its 2012 Preseason Coaches Poll with all the anticipation one would expect. LSU tops the Crimson Tide in the poll, with the University of Southern California coming in at a strong third.
Only the Big East, Conference-USA, WAC, Sun Belt and MAC go unrepresented in the initial poll. The SEC sets the pace with seven teams in the rankings while the Big 12 lands six in. The Big Ten gets four in and the ACC and Pac-12 get three in apiece.
Ultimately, I don't care, but you do. This poll shouldn't matter, but in the BCS formula, it does. We haven't seen any of these teams play, but so what? We'll slot them anyways based upon a whim.
Up and down this poll, you can see the guesses of a group of men, college football coaches (and let's be real, we mean SIDs here), who have spent the offseason fixing their own problems, keeping kids out of trouble and recruiting. If you think an ACC head coach can give you an accurate read on a Pac-12 school that he doesn't play, then you're fooling yourself, chief.
When should the polls come out?
We've got an Auburn and a Florida team that don't have a quarterback, have new offensive coordinators and yet they ring in among the nation's best. We have a Louisville team that returns darn near everyone, including one of the nation's emerging talents at quarterback, and it is relegated to "others receiving votes."
Teams like Michigan State, Stanford and Oklahoma State lose the entire passing segment of their game and yet they somehow find themselves in position to creep towards the top.
It's a ridiculous chore that we repeat year after year to sell papers and now to generate page views. Fans will argue over Alabama-LSU, while USC fans will swear they are done wrong.
Ultimately, it is an exercise in futility as the season must play itself out and teams will rise and fall. The ideal system would wait until we've seen these teams play to slot them. Unfortunately, we don't live in an ideal world.
Perhaps, with the coming selection committee, the polls will mean a lot less and getting things right will mean a lot more.