By Drew Markol, TSN Contributor - Archive - Email
Nobody asked me, but...
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - What good do they serve?

What good does it do to have preseason college football rankings?

All right, they provide a little bit of fun before the start of the season, but it's always basically the same teams recycled into different spots in the Top 10. Is there really any surprise?

Now, it's good if you're one of the top teams in the preseason poll because your spot near the top of the perch is already secured along the lines of Fort Knox.

All you have to do is win your games and you're stylin'.

On the flip side, it's not so good if you have a really good team that not enough folks have recognized and you're not in the preseason poll.

That means you have to first try and work yourself into The top 25 during the season, and then all the way up the rankings while hoping that the ton of teams ahead of you all magically lose.

Plus, an unranked team in the preseason has no prayer of getting anywhere high in the polls if they lose a game. If you're unranked in August, you'd better smoke everybody on your schedule and have a rabbit's foot or two around. It's a stacked deck.

Be among the elite in August and it's awfully hard to fall too far even when you lose a game.

Be on the outside looking in in August and it's a battle to break into the club. Lose a game at any time during the season and, like we said, it's sayonara.

These days, the Associated Press among others are doing preseason rankings for NFL teams. That's fine with me because they don't mean anything. Ranked 32 of 32? Big deal. Just win, baby.

Like just about any sport you can think of, everybody's even in the NFL on opening day. That's not the case in college football's high level. The playing field is tilted from the start and that's not right.

Dare to be different? That's fine, I guess, if you're a fashion designer. It's not so fine when you're trying to figure out who is the best team in the land. The NFL sorts out its champion with an extensive playoff. College football, at least for two more seasons, will rely on its polls, done by both humans and computers.

Preseason polls shouldn't be a part of it.

Just think what would happen if we did away with them.

Not much, really.

Some magazines wouldn't be happy; nor would the college team picked No. 1; but they'd have to get over it.

Go earn it on the field and be No. 1 at the end when it's important in January, not the beginning in August.

Imagine how nice that would be. You have to earn something, not be given it.

Sounds a bit like a political discussion that we won't get into here.

Like many things I bang my head against the wall over, this one won't go away. Preseason polls are a staple of the sporting life (geez, the college preseason basketball polls are everywhere, too) and when they're released, they're heralded on television, sports talk radio and in newspapers.

All of those entities, and bloggers, too, need fodder for the fire and can't wait to get their hands on the first poll.

Drew Markol has been a sportswriter and columnist for several newspapers in the Philadelphia area for more than 25 years.

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