College football has turned the page to a new era with the College Football Playoff, and yet, one of the most archaic elements of the BCS and prior eras will fight to hang on. Perhaps "hang on" is too strong; more like—hang around, looking from the edges, wholly divorced from the process, peeking through the window.
It has been established, time and again, that the Coaches Poll is not a reliable metric for slotting teams. Much like Brian Kelly during the 2012 season, these men had their own stakes tied to the poll. Chip Kelly told the outright truth about not being able to watch the games, something every coach deals with.
The poll was an inaccurate means of helping to determine a champion. Which is why, as the nation moves into the four-team playoff era, the Coaches Poll was dumped from the formula in favor of a selection committee. USA Today's Dan Wolken reiterated that point in reporting that the American Football Coaches Association confirmed it would not be a part of the playoff process.
There is no input on who should be in the championship game from the AFCA's poll. The Coaches Trophy will not be awarded at the close of the final contest. The College Football Playoff will handle all the things that matter. Yet the head of the AFCA, Grant Teaff, makes this point:
We believe, our coaches are adamant, that our poll will even take on greater significance. People are going to want to know, the media is going to want to know, what the opinions of the coaches are.
Every now and then, selecting No. 1 and No. 2 are really tough. But selecting No. 3 and No. 4 is going to be a real jumble. We want to make sure that, though we're not official, our coaches want their opinions known as to how they feel about who the top teams are.
The problem here starts with the idea that the coaches' opinions are important, something B/R's Samuel Chi points out. If the coaches were watching all of the games and had a chance to do a true evaluation, Teaff's statement would hold weight. Unfortunately, with a Sunday reveal coming just after coaches are focused on their own Saturday games, it is impossible.
However, the coaches' voting habits are not the main point of note; rather, the idea that the poll "will even take on greater significance," according to Teaff, is the bigger issue. Notice it has become an issue, not a problem. In the BCS where the Coaches Poll mattered, it was a problem, a flaw in the system.
Now, with the poll not being official and not factoring into the equation in any regard, it is essentially useless. Champions will not even receive the trophy at the game; rather, they will obtain it on campus at a later date.
In other words, the Coaches Poll has been cut out of the process entirely, yet the gang at the AFCA will keep holding on, like Simply Red. Staring through the glass at the College Football Playoff. Showing up to the winner's campus, after the fact, to say they, too, thought the team was good.
The marginalization of the poll is clear. Much like the Associated Press Poll moved out of the process following the 2004 season, the Coaches Poll has gone the same way. With a playoff to determine, in the eyes of many, a true No. 1, both polls' final results will be little more than footnotes on the resume of the College Football Playoff winner.