Pre-Season Rankings: Does College Football Need Them?

Chris KellyCorrespondent IAugust 8, 2008

Every year around this time college football fans come out of hibernation and gear up for the upcoming season.  This year is no different, as it is official college football season is officially here.  It was kickstarted with the announcement of the pre-season rankings.

Here is the USA Today poll:

1. Georgia (22) 0-0 1,438
 2. USC (14) 0-0 1,430
 3. Ohio State (14) 0-0 1,392
 4. Oklahoma (3) 0-0 1,329
 5. Florida (5) 0-0 1,293
 6. LSU (3) 0-0 1,163
 7. Missouri 0-0 1,143
 8. West Virginia 0-0 1,008
 9. Clemson 0-0 999
10. Texas 0-0 979
11. Auburn 0-0 888
12. Wisconsin 0-0 747
13. Kansas 0-0 714
14. Texas Tech 0-0 644
15. Virginia Tech 0-0 568
16. Arizona State 0-0 560
17. Brigham Young 0-0 547
18. Tennessee 0-0 506
19. Illinois 0-0 422
20. Oregon 0-0 399
21. South Florida 0-0 350
22. Penn State 0-0 313
23. Wake Forest 0-0 203
24. Michigan 0-0 112
25. Fresno State 0-0 91

Every year these polls come out and it is proven towards the end of the season that really, the pre-season poll is not entirely necessary.  At the end of the season almost half of the top ten can be made up of teams that were not even ranked in the top ten come pre-season let alone the top 25.

Take last season for instance, as the Missouri Tigers were not ranked coming into the season but come the Big 12 Title Game they were ranked number one They would loose that spot at number one, but it still proves that the polls do not matter.

Most would agree that last season was definitely not in favor of the polls as nine teams finished in the last top 25 of the season.  That also doesn't include the fact that South Florida was as high as number two at one point.

Is it really fair to punish an undefeated team for starting out low in the polls?  Take the 2004 Auburn Tigers for instance.  The Tigers started out the season at number 17 and would finish at number 3 right behind Oklahoma and USC, both were also undefeated like Auburn.

Now maybe there is no true solution to the polls but maybe there is.  Could starting the polls in the fourth or fifth week of the season make sense.  By that time most teams (if not all) will have finished their out of conference schedule.  After the OOC schedule is finished the voters might have a better idea of what they are really looking at.

If you look at this years pre-season polls it can be seen that Michigan comes in at number twenty-four.  A team that loses their coach, had problems all last year against the spead and loses the heart of their offense is in the top 25.  This team was put there out of ignorance and the fact that it is Michigan.

You can also argue for Clemson being in the top 10.  Not to take anything away from a good team but they have been known to collapse during games that they should win.  We don't know if this year is any different, so we assume which is not always the best idea as there is a good chance that Clemson finishes outside of the top 10.

Outside the top 25 are those teams that are on the bubble.  The voters give them some confidence by voting for them but really there is no excitement for them.  Alabama is a school that can very well get off the bubble and join the top 25.  They have an acomplished coach in Nick Saban, and he has really stockpiled some true talent.  The only thing stopping them is the other SEC teams.

In the future, only more situations like last year or the Tigers of 2004 could in the end fix this problem.  The time is now to implement this rule just like it is time to implement a playoff (that's another story).