Thursday, November 24, 2016

On College Sports Polls

Yesterday I spent a good chunk of time sitting in traffic, listening to local sports talk radio types A)rage against the artificial discussion points that are college football polls B)rage that the ACC didn't have enough representation in those polls, and C)arguing that the B1G N Where N Does Not Equal Ten got too much representation because the playoff committee wanted to rig things in favor of Ohio State.


If you detected some cognitive dissonance there, you're not alone. So it's time for some handy-dandy reminders about college sports and polls:


  1. They exist to stir up controversy and get you arguing. If you're arguing over whether Wisconsin should be ranked #7 or #9 - both completely unimportant numbers, as anything greater than 4 is out of the playoffs and anything ten or less is playing in  New Year's Day bowl regardless - then you're talking about college football. Which is what they want.
  2. Asking for consistent behavior from the selection committee is like asking for consideration from a cat. It is never, ever, ever going to happen, so stop beating yourself and everyone else up over it and accept that on any given year, the committee is going to do whatever the hell it wants to do because, well, who exactly is going to stop them
  3. As noted previously, by and large the polls do not matter at all. You're either at the top or you're unimportant. The one possible exception is college basketball, where a reluctant ranking can be used to make a case for giving a mid-major an at-large tournament slot instead of reflexively giving it to whatever team Herb Sendek happens to be coaching at the moment.
  4. There is no right answer. You can argue about Penn State's strength of schedule all you want but that's not going to affect things one bit. The sooner you make peace with this, the happier you're going to be.
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