Thursday, November 6, 2008
Sports coverage has changed significantly in our lifetime. A lot of it has been good, but there are some things that have gone horribly wrong. Every week I'll be taking a little time to whine about one of these things with no hope whatsoever that anything will change.
This week I want to spout off about preseason rankings in college sports. They're ridiculous. No one knows which teams will be the best year in and year out. Where were Alabama and Penn State ranked to start the college football season? In the AP poll, Penn State was 22nd and Alabama was unranked. They were 22nd and 24th in the Coaches' Poll. Nice call boys. Clemson at number nine was another great call, not to mention Wisconsin at 12 or 13. Clemson is 4-4 and Wisconsin is in last place in the Big Ten.
Why do they even bother with these things? People are interested I guess, but what's wrong with just a preview? You'll still get people to watch to see what the "experts" think will happen and watch Lou Holtz spit at cameramen.
It even becomes problematic later in the season when teams and pundits start spewing facts at us. "They beat four ranked teams this season." No, they didn't. Maybe they beat four teams that were ranked at the time they played those teams, but maybe three of those wins came in the first four weeks, before some preseason hype was proven idiotic.
Plus, if a team is ranked toward the top at the beginning of the season, it effects their ranking the rest of the year. It becomes a little harder to move them down if they falter. It becomes easier to move them back up after a big win.
Polls come out early for one reason in my opinion and that is to try and generate interest so people will watch games, analysis, and the release of the polls themselves. This is borderline moronic. Ohio State and USC would have been an intriguing match-up without fans having to be reminded that both teams are in the top five in the nation.
Why not make teams earn their positions in the first three or four weeks of the season? Don't worry Mark May, that will give you plenty of time to still argue about the rankings and why Pitt should be in the top ten. A week four debut will be more exciting than a preseason poll because fans will actually have some arguments to make for their team when it comes out.
So as college basketball season gets started up, we have the polls out already, so you know who will be good. You know what else pisses me off? These stories on ESPN's site that have titles like "Northwestern #1 in new Coaches' Poll", then I click on the story expecting to see the actual poll, and it turns out to be a long narrative in which teams are talked about in a random order. Stop that!
Let's get rid of these preseason polls. Just something else for Obama to think about.