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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

“It gives people something to talk about on sports talk radio and at the office. It's just verbiage is all it is.”

OU's Bob Stoops, one of 59 coaches who vote in the USA Today poll, admitted this week that he won't miss the polls when college football arrives at its new era in 2014.

“All coaches have an agenda,” Stoops said. “All coaches are biased, by their conference or whatever. And we have an agenda about where you're at in the poll or where you rank other people. So I'll be glad not to have to do it.”

When the 2012 AP poll debuted Saturday, it looked very much like the coaches' poll (released earlier this month) with the top 15 teams identical in both rankings.

Great minds thinking alike? More like a copycat cop-out, considering recent history. The August rankings seldom resemble January's final poll, meaning there's a lot of guessing — and missing — going on.

Just last year, the preseason AP top 10 looked like this: No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Oregon, No. 4 LSU, No. 5 Boise State, No. 6 Florida State, No. 7 Stanford, No. 8 Texas A&M, No. 9 Oklahoma State, No. 10 Nebraska.

The Sooners finished at No. 16, Florida State No. 23, Nebraska No. 24 and A&M was out of the rankings. And Michigan State, Michigan, Baylor, Kansas State, Houston, Southern Miss, Clemson and Cincinnati all held Top 25 spots after being left out in the preseason.

An identical first 15, as well as 22 of the same 25? Where's the fun and creativity in that?

It's enough to make us all yawn.

And that's the problem for the polls.

“The Associated Press poll is done by the media, so I can't imagine that would ever go away,” Gundy said. “The other polls, there's always so much debate on who should be on them, the criteria for how people are voting. There's a trend moving toward the fans becoming tired of that.”

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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