College football fan, please stop complaining about preseason polls, you like them. Non-college football fan, please stop complaining about preseason polls, you do not understand their value. Obviously, preseason polls are the beginning of the buzz that college football brings. It is the start of the wonderful banter that comes with the sport. Yes, many people complain about how useless the polls are, but that is a narrow view point shared by many. In reality, while preseason polls are virtually guaranteed to have some inaccuracies, they typically reflect what the masses believe pretty accurately. Now some of you are yelling, “what about the minority view point that believes…?”. Well we cannot possibly hope to please everybody. If that were the case, I recommend you endorse each program releasing their own bias poll stating that they are the best team in the nation and allow them to brainwash you with whatever skewed statistic or excuse they can come up with.
Preseason polls are good, even when they are bad. Use this year for example. Ohio State was the first unanimous preseason number one selection. This instantly put the highest of expectations on them. America told them they were great and they had to go prove it. Now every weekend people tune in to watch them, even though they have struggled with lesser opponents. We are fascinated with them, because every respectable mind told you they were far better than every one of their opponents, yet they have not proven that on the field. Preseason polls also told us Auburn, Oregon, USC and Georgia were national title contenders. They are currently all hovering around .500 records and would love to just win their division; however, they give us some of the more interesting stories of the year because they were bad and very few expected it. So even when the polls appear to be wrong, they are interesting.
Preseason polls are also good, because they are good. This year too small of a sample for you? How about this, every National Champion and runner-up since at least 2002 has been ranked in both the AP and Coaches preseason poll except Notre Dame who was only ranked in the Coaches. Still not enough for you? Over 78% of the teams that played in BCS/New Year’s 6 bowl games, during that same span, were also ranked in 1 or both of the preseason polls. So while you may believe your team is underrated, more often than not the pollsters know what they are doing.
So while preseason polls have their inaccuracies, they are good. When pollsters are right nobody congratulates them, but when they are wrong we hound them for it. Preseason polls give us discussion before week 1 and story lines all season. Preseason polls are the backbone of College Football. Polls are how we determine who plays for a championship, so until that changes, and I hope it never does, I see no reason why we should stop releasing early polls. I love preseason polls and so should you.
Read about the issues with CFB polls here