Do we really need preseason college football polls? Are they useful at all?
LSU beats Miami and shoots up 14 places from No. 25 to 11 in The Associated Press rankings. The coaches were less effusive in their poll, moving LSU up nine spots from No. 24 to 15.
Virginia Tech beat Florida State, and AP moved the Hokies up eight spots on No. 12, although the coaches boosted them only three spots to 14.
And what about Washington? The Huskies, ranked No. 6 in the preseason, flew across the country and played Auburn, a top 10 team, at a "neutral" site in Atlanta in which 90 percent of the crowd was wearing blue and orange. After a close 21-16 loss, Washington dropped to No. 9 in the AP rankings and No. 11 in the coaches poll to 11.
Some of my colleagues are asking why preseason polls are even a thing. But, here’s the thing — we don’t need them. He don’t have to have them. But, we want them. They’re fun. It’s cool to see where everyone is starting off.
It’s fun to debate, and it’s fun to see how far they rise or drop after the first game.
Also, voters now seem much more willing to leapfrog teams over each other. In the past, if the team ahead of you kept winning, you didn’t have much chance to move up. Think back to 2004 when unbeaten Auburn couldn’t rise above No. 3 in the polls as No. 1 Southern California and No. 2 Oklahoma went undefeated, too. The preseason poll essentially cost the Tigers a place in the national title game.
These days, teams are less likely to get stuck behind a winning team every week.
Besides, there’s one major change — those polls aren’t part of how the teams are decided for the championship playoff.
In that respect, they just don’t matter. They’re meant for nothing more than fun. Which they are.