Coaches Poll Keeps Wisconsin Ranked, Defying All Logic and ReasonSeptember 17, 2012
Have you seen Wisconsin play football this year? We'll assume by the claw marks around your eyes that you have. To those that haven't, rest assured that the Badgers are an unholy mess of a football team, one that barely beat FCS powerhouse Northern Iowa and needed a biffed field goal to escape with a 16-14 victory over Utah State. At home.
Oh, and then there was the manhandling Oregon State gave Wisconsin, a physical domination that was nowhere near as close as the 10-7 final score would indicate. It was such a lopsided affair on the line that Bret Bielema literally fired his offensive line coach two games into his Badger career.
Wisconsin is objectively awful this year. ESPN.com ranked the Badgers 11th in its Big Ten power poll, and that is not an overreaction. If the Badgers were wearing Indiana's uniforms, nothing about the first three games would be a surprise (other than, y'know, what the heck Montee Ball is doing in crimson and white, but you get what we mean).
And so naturally, the USA Today Coaches Poll—the one that actually matters in the BCS—has Wisconsin ranked 24th in the nation.
This is a travesty. This is a sham. This is proof that the Coaches Poll harms the integrity of the BCS, and thus, the postseason. It's lazy, ill-informed, win-go-up, lose-go-down polling at its absolute worst. Wisconsin has absolutely no business being ranked, and anybody who has actually watched the Badgers play knows that.
But guess what? Whoever's filling out these Coaches Poll ballots (because it's the worst-kept secret in college football that the coaches themselves don't do it) isn't watching Wisconsin or anybody else play, because that's not the top priority for sports information directors, graduate assistants or anybody else in the program—especially with the ballots due so soon after the week's action is done.
Enough is enough. We don't need the Coaches Poll anymore. Yes, the BCS computer polls are unnecessarily closed-source and thus open to the appearance of impropriety, but at least the Harris Poll isn't so dependent on the preseason bias that's keeping Wisconsin ranked by the coaches. And then when the playoff comes around and we've got actual people on a committee evaluating teams, it won't be perfect then, but it'll be better than the ballots of disinterested staffers.
So let's just put a stop to this for the good of football. It doesn't do anybody (except, we suppose, USA Today) any good to keep running this joke of a poll out as a determinant of postseason bids and championship eligibility. We can do better. Heck, if Wisconsin's still ranked, it's hard to do worse.