College Football Makes Fools of Us All, Pollsters Included

Roy LaFaverCorrespondent ISeptember 27, 2008

I’ve been reading articles and comments on B/R this morning, and a question popped into mind. Do the pollsters read this stuff? Do the pollsters listen to the pundits on ESPN? In other words, do they drink the same Kool-Aid the rest of us are swilling? And who the heck are they, anyway?

You know, sometimes I realize I am full of it. I go along thinking the people voting in these polls are something greater than they actually are. I marvel at the way they can evaluate all the talent and all the coaches to come up with those marvelous preseason polls.

Think about it: All those hours of poring over high school game film, all those hours of evaluating the effect of teams losing players to the NFL, the thought process of determining how the freshman talent will mesh with the players that remain on all the squads in bigtime football. It must be a heavy burden.

One wonders when a pollster would find time to handle a day job, unless perhaps they are paid a huge sum of pesos just to vote. And when do they sleep? There’s a lot to consider, unless...

Suppose those people are just like us. Suppose they, too, have a favorite team and a favorite conference. Suppose they let ESPN determine who is numero uno, then they proceed to fill in the other slots from the same base of ignorance under which the rest of us labor.

To do the job right after the season begins, one would have to pore through game film from the moment games end one week until they begin again the next week. Really, how strong is a particular linebacker? Run all the game film watching only that player, then run the film 10 more times for the other players, and that’s just the defense.

See how well a particular linebacker uses his down linemen to avoid blocks. See if he bites on ball fakes too easily. Does he drop back in pass coverage better than the other three or four hundred linebackers playing each week? Does he move down the line quickly enough on sweeps?

It cannot be done. So I am left to assume they truly are just like the rest of us. They watch games through the same sort of tinted glasses the rest of us are wearing.

Some are overly dependent on “common opponent” implications, an area we all know means absolutely zero, nada, zilch—nothing. Some are overly impressed by a team running over an opponent that might simply be having a bad day, or had received a dose of faulty coaching the past week.

USC is a prime example. After two games (two games?) superlatives were flowing from ESPN “experts.” Articles and comments were flying, and I heard and read more than once that this was the greatest defense in the history of the game.

Do they realize how long this game has been around? Could the pollsters and pundits have been so wrong? Or could it be that Pete Carroll simply came up with the wrong game plan, made a mistake, and s*** the bed?

The hyperbole is self-fueling. Why do sharks seem to go mad and race with jaws agape to bite off a chunk of anything in the water? Pollsters and fans are pretty much like sharks during football season. Perhaps we just need something to happen that will make this day more significant than yesterday, and perhaps that is the reason we proclaim the emergence of the greatest team in history...every bloody year.

Hey, before you get all wrapped up thinking about all the profound questions I have so eloquently posed, stop! Have some barbecue. Have a beverage. Get ready for some great football action, because hundreds of No. 1 teams will be playing today, and you will get to see a good number of them, unless you are so rabid you absolutely must be present at a stadium to see the “game of the ages,” in which case you might only see two teams today.

It’s just football. And I’m pretty sure all of you will agree the LSU Tigers play it better than any other team in the country.