For some time now, college football fans have noted a strange and unhealthy affinity for the University of Southern California in the national media.
It seems that no matter how many times the Trojans lose to their cupcake “competition” in the Pac-10, the media nevertheless lines up in droves to praise USC.
Indeed, notwithstanding the Trojans' loss to unranked Oregon State, media voters in the AP Poll have USC inexplicably ranked at No. 6, directly ahead of three unbeaten teams and a Georgia squad whose only loss was to No. 2 Alabama, and eight spots ahead of unbeaten Utah, whose wins include one over Oregon State.
The media’s unnatural obsession with USC is old news; the problem is that it seems to be a contagious condition. The coaches from the USA Today poll now have USC ranked at No. 4 (4!), ahead of the likes of Oklahoma, Georgia and Florida.
Let’s examine a few of the schools that the coaches have ranked below Southern Cal.
LSU (Ranked No. 14)
Sure, the Tigers were embarrassed by Florida this weekend in The Swamp. But surely losing to the Gators in arguably the toughest environment in the country isn’t half as embarrassing as dropping a game in front of 40,000 Beavers fans in Corvallis.
Missouri (Ranked No. 12)
The coaches had Missouri at No. 2 going into this past weekend, in which the Tigers lost to undefeated Oklahoma State. Yet, they are somehow leapfrogged by a Southern Cal team who lost to 3-3 Oregon State? Speaking of Oklahoma State…
Oklahoma State (Ranked No. 10)
The Cowboys are undefeated, and, according to the coaches, they just knocked off the No. 2 team in the country. Yet Southern Cal somehow jumps to No. 4 after beating 2-4 Arizona State?
Georgia (Ranked No. 9)
Georgia’s only loss came to No. 2 Alabama… and before anyone starts whining about that first half, don’t forget that USC was down 21-0 to Oregon State at halftime.
Florida (Ranked No. 7)
The Gators trounced the No. 3-ranked, defending National Champions by 30 points. Someone explain to me how beating Arizona State trumps this?
Oklahoma (Ranked No. 6)
The Sooners lost a rivalry shootout to the new No. 1 team in the country, and they somehow fell beneath the Trojans.
I didn't yet mention undefeated BYU and Texas Tech, both of whom could arguably be ranked ahead of USC as well.
Is anyone really going to argue that Texas Tech’s schedule has been that much weaker than Southern Cal? Heck, is anyone really going to argue that playing in the Mountain West is that much easier than playing in the Pac-10 this year?
I have offered theories in the past as to why the coaches poll can't be trusted. Whatever their reasons, it's clear that the coaches have fallen victim to a collective insanity, one that may not be remedied unless Southern Cal drops another game to a weak conference opponent.
Hopefully, the only ramifications for the rest of the country will be yet another uninteresting-yet-overhyped Rose Bowl. Given the way this season has gone, however, the coaches' collective nonsense could have broader implications for teams that actually deserve a chance to play for a title.
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