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Are college football polls still relevant?

With a playoff coming, some think the weekly rankings have become little more than ‘verbiage.'
by John Helsley Published: August 18, 2012


photo - COLLEGE FOOTBALL / CELEBRATION: Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy celebrates after winning the Fiesta Bowl between the Oklahoma State University Cowboys (OSU) and the Stanford Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., Monday, Jan. 2, 2012. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
COLLEGE FOOTBALL / CELEBRATION: Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy celebrates after winning the Fiesta Bowl between the Oklahoma State University Cowboys (OSU) and the Stanford Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., Monday, Jan. 2, 2012. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

Saturday brought the clockwork release of the preseason Associated Press Top 25.

For the record, Oklahoma opens at No. 4, while Oklahoma State sits at No. 19, delivering reasonable respect to the state's major programs.

A rite of August, the AP poll has a long and storied history dating back to 1934.

Like many old friends, it's beginning to show its age.

Will death soon follow?

Used to be, the AP rankings, a compilation of sports writer votes from across the country, were relevant in every way. They attached esteemed status to those worthy of a number. They stirred heated debates and mighty claims — “We're No. 1!”

And they crowned the national champion.

Now, not so much.

While the AP still presents a postseason No. 1 and a championship trophy, all eyes instead focus on the BCS standings, which provide both a national title game and what is widely regarded as college football's true champion.

The AP once was a factor in the BCS formula, before the organization demanded in December of 2004 that it be removed from the equation, after a series of controversies surrounded the BCS.

As a result, it rendered itself all but irrelevant.

The coaches' poll, carried out by USA Today and a spinoff of the old UPI rankings, remained involved in the BCS equation. But even the days of the coaches' poll appear numbered.

Two years from now, we've been promised a four-team playoff to produce the national champion, with a committee to be assigned to determine the participants.

And the polls, well, perhaps they'll still be talking points, a peg for who to place on the score scroll across the bottom of the TV, similar to the way they are in college basketball. But not a factor in determining a champion. Not a cause for any drama.

Not really relevant.

“It's just like preseason magazines,” said OSU coach Mike Gundy. “The information in there, for the most part, is irrelevant. But everybody buys them.

Continue reading this story on the...

by John Helsley
OSU Reporter Sr.
John Helsley grew up in Del City, reading all the newspapers and sports magazines he could get his hands on. And Saturday afternoons, when the Major League Game of the Week was on, he'd keep a scorecard for the game. So the sports appeal was was...
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