Revisiting the uselessness of pre-season college football polls

After watching this wild and wacky bowl season, it dawned on me that this year’s final college football rankings will look quite a bit different than they did back in August.

I’m not faulting anyone for being unable to predict the future but let’s just say there were a number of surprises this season that caught pollsters off guard.

So without further ado…

aj mccarron and girlfriend kissALABAMA – Preseason Rank 1

What we thought would happen: Long considered the inevitable champion, we would all regale as AJ McCarron rode off into the sunset with his hot ass girlfriend and three straight national championships, ultimately becoming the answer to the trivia question of who was the last college quarterback to win three national championships and not be worth a damn in the NFL.  Alabama would construct a second statue of Nick Saban outside its stadium to commemorate his coaching greatness.

What actually happened: ‘Bama lost to Auburn in the wildest game of the year, didn’t get to play for an SEC Championship or national championship for that matter and ended up losing to Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl.  Guess that second statue will have to wait.

OHIO STATE – Preseason Rank 2

What we thought would happen: A collision course between the recently off-probation Buckeyes, the formerly heartsick Urban Meyer and Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide seemed like a foregone conclusion but we know what they say about best laid plans.

What actually happened: Just like ‘Bama, Ohio State lost their last game of the season, this time in the Big Ten Championship game to Michigan State.  For the record, Michigan State wasn’t even ranked in the pre-season polls.  Ohio State then lost to Clemson giving the Buckeyes, like ‘Bama, a two-game losing streak to end their season.

Oregon DucksOREGON – Preseason Rank 3

What we thought would happen: If any team could challenge either of the aforementioned two football powerhouses, it would be the high-flying offense of the Oregon Ducks, who would most assuredly run through the Pac-12.

What actually happened: Oregon lost at Stanford and then inexplicably got their clocks cleaned by Arizona two weeks later.  Oregon went on to beat a hapless Texas team in the Alamo Bowl but once again reminded us why we should never take them all that seriously.

STANFORD – Preseason Rank 4

What we thought would happen: The pollsters finally got one right.  Stanford was one of the better college football teams this season.

What actually happened: Stanford lost to both Utah and USC so despite their Rose Bowl bid, a game which they also lost, it was tough to take them all that seriously as well.

MarkRichtGEORGIA – Preseason Rank 5

What we thought would happen: No preseason college football rankings would be complete without about eight SEC teams in it.  The Georgia Bulldogs were supposed to challenge both Florida and South Carolina for SEC Eastern division dominance.  Ironically, Missouri ended up better than all of them.  I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Missouri received not a single preseason vote.  Nor did Auburn for that matter who is playing for a national championship.

What actually happened: Georgia shit the bed due to injuries and bad luck.  Losing their first game of the season to Clemson didn’t help matters but at least it gave us the first indication that the 2013 Southeastern Conference wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

SOUTH CAROLINA – Preseason Rank 6

What we thought would happen:  JaDeveon Clowney was supposed to strike fear into the hearts of opposing offenses on his way to becoming a number one draft pick and one of the best defensive players college football had seen in decades.

What actually happened:  After a lackluster and clearly unmotivated season, Clowney will still be the top pick taken, reminding us how meaningless a college football season can actually be.

Johnny Manziel DrakeTEXAS A&M – Preseason Rank 7

What we thought would happen: America’s sweetheart/troublemaker/alcoholic quarterback/close personal friend of Drake, Johnny Manziel would once again take college football by storm.

What actually happened: He did, again, inflating his draft status and leading some NFL GM to hope he’s the second coming of Doug Flutie when he’s more likely the second coming of Tim Tebow.  Hey, at least he’ll sell some tickets.

CLEMSON – Preseason Rank 8

What we thought would happen: The traditionally, highly-ranked Clemson Tigers were bound to have a successful, yet ultimately disappointing, two-loss season.  That’s what they do every year.

What actually happened:  After getting waxed by Florida State, things just weren’t the same but they did beat both Georgia and Ohio State this season.  That has to count for something.

LOUISVILLE – Preseason Rank 9

What we thought would happen:  Under the tutelage of one of the best young coaches in the game, we knew Louisville would be good… and they were.  We also knew that another successful season would have every school in the nation salivating over Charlie Strong.

What actually happened:  Louisville’s only loss this season was by three points to UCF and yes, as expected, Charlie Strong packed his bags and moved to Texas.

muschampFLORIDA – Preseason Rank 10

What we thought would happen: Need I relive this?  We knew the Gators would struggle offensively after watching them overachieve last year.

What actually happened: The Gators had their worst season since football was invented, ending the season on a seven game losing streak and leading Gainesville residents to hiss under their breath when Coach Will Muschamp walks into a local restaurant.

FLORIDA STATE – Preseason Rank 11

What we thought would happen: Ranking FSU pre-season in the top twenty-five is a no-brainer.  It’s a program that traditionally competes with the rest.

What actually happened:  This year, Florida State proved they had NO competition.  The ‘Noles ranked atop college football in both points scored (53.0) and points allowed (10.7).  If you do that, you’re generally going to have a pretty good season.  And they did.  It’s just too bad nobody saw it coming.

Miles and MilesLSU – Preseason Rank 12

What we thought would happen: If anybody could challenge almighty ‘Bama, it would be LSU who had beaten them in the regular season two years before.

What actually happened: Before even getting to ‘Bama, LSU lost to both Georgia and Ole Miss, dashing any hopes of getting back to the BCS title game.  At least they still got their weekly entertaining, post-game sound bites from the certifiable Les Miles.

OKLAHOMA STATE – Preseason Rank 13

What we thought would happen: The Big 12 was up for grabs this year.  Oklahoma State was one of the teams that would contend for the conference championship.  Preseason unranked Baylor was not.

What actually happened:  You can already tell where I’m going with this.  Baylor won the conference, Oklahoma State did not.  After losing to both Oklahoma and Missouri, the Cowboys ended up their season on a two-game losing skid.

NOTRE DAME – Preseason Rank 14

What we thought would happen: After playing for a national championship last year, no one quite knew what to expect from the Irish this year.  Ranking them fourteenth seemed nondescript enough.

What actually happened: Insert made-up girlfriend joke here.  Notre Dame lost four games this season on their way to the New Era Pinstripe Bowl.  On the bright side, they didn’t have to play Alabama again.

Mack Brown says goodbyeTEXAS – Preseason Rank 15

What we thought would happen:  It’s been a few years since Mack Brown yielded a competitive team.  I’m not too sure too many of us were convinced he would do so in 2013.

What actually happened:  He didn’t.  The Longhorns lost to BYU and Mississippi State in back to back games only months before Mack Brown would be forced to retire… allegedly.

OKLAHOMA – Preseason Rank 16

What we thought would happen:  By this point, haven’t we all learned not to take any Bob Stoops team too seriously.

What actually happened:  Alabama must have received the memo about not taking the Sooners seriously.  Oklahoma beat the defending national champs in the Sugar Bowl leading to what should be a pleasant off-season for Sooner fans until they realize that next year, Bob Stoops is still their coach.

MICHIGAN – Preseason Rank 17

What we thought would happen:  Most of us had already handed the Big Ten Championship to Ohio State.  The only hope was that Michigan could somehow take them down in their traditional Thanksgiving weekend matchup.

What actually happened: Michigan ended up the season unranked, losing five of its last six games.

PelliniNEBRASKA – Preseason Rank 18

What we thought would happen: Nebraska fans are impatiently waiting for the day Bo Pellini can bring their program back to relevance.

What actually happened:  They’ll have to wait another year for that to happen as the Huskers finished 9-4.  They did beat Georgia in the Gator Bowl but then again, who couldn’t beat Georgia this year?  Oh, that’s right.  Florida.

BOISE STATE – Preseason Rank 19

What we thought would happen:  It’s become fashionable to stick a mid-major, particularly one like Boise State, in the pre-season rankings, that way someone can tell us “See?  I told you so!” when they end up being competitive.

What actually happened: After losing their first game of the season to Washington 38-6, most of us stopped paying attention to the Broncos, only turning our heads every time they were on television to wonder why the hell they play on a blue field.

TCU – Preseason Rank 20

What we thought would happen: Let’s be honest.  TCU hasn’t been relevant ever since Andy Dalton got drafted.

What actually happened: They still weren’t, going 4-8, and causing more Horned Frogs fans to tune into Cincinnati Bengals games rather than their own.

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23 Replies to “Revisiting the uselessness of pre-season college football polls”

  1. Polls are for people who get off on bowl games… They pacify those of little faith and give reason to comment to the rest of use…

  2. Chris

    I’m all for poles that have either one or at least several strippers adorning it or them , showing off their wares ! That’s the only poll I have ever been interested in ! ‘nough said !

    Left you a comment concerning my most recent post . Something of as an uninteresting and uninspiring sports’ weekend overall .

    ESPN can’t seem to get out of their own way in terms of their continued idiocy . They’re trying to suggest that the Knicks and Clippers are seeking to work out a deal that would exchange Blake Griffin for Carmelo Anthony . Another reason why that sports’ broadcast outlet is falling faster in terms of its legitimacy as an outlet when it comes to sports’ journalism in general . Considering the differences with regard to melo’s salary and Griffin’s , that deal can only work if there’s cash or an additional player thrown into the deal .

    So Evander Holyfied , who hasn’t fought in a couple of years and now faces financial ruin , makes a complete @ss of himself on a British reality show by disparaging the homosexuals and their lifestyle . This being the same @####ole who has father six children out of wedlock (failed to maintain their child support payments) and then hid assets from a matrimonial judge in order to avoid paying child support and alimony to his former wife in their divorce . Holyfield has now become a frigging scumbag and has about as much relevance as a piece of fecal matter lying on the ground .

    tophatal ……………..

  3. Why are you not writing for ESPN? This is one of the best sports’ write-ups I’ve ever read! I completely agreed with everything you said. What a break down!

  4. Wow…USC got off scot-free by a year.

    Barkley was pre-season Heisman fav and SC expected to contend only to fall on their faces.

    That’s why they play the games….Talk is cheap.

  5. I voted for Auburn in your poll. For the mere fact that I hope FSU loses by 100…oh and yeah, the polls are completely useless.

    That said they only really shit themselves on UF and Michigan. The rest had good years and 11-2 by Bama is a great season, for anyone. I NEVER expect ANY team to go undefeated so they are all usually interchangeable in the top 10 for the most part. Also, the better team does not always win. As somebody who played competitive sports I can tell you that many a time I left a game wondering how we lost to a certain opponent or knowing we stole one from a team better than us.

  6. Dwin…

    Fortunately, the BCS worked itself out again this football season DESPITE the polls, with one team ranked 11th making it in and the other entirely unranked.

    I don’t think anyone has an argument with Auburn and FSU making it to the final game.

    Should be a good one tonight.

    If anything, it’ll remind us that nobody knows a damn thing in August. Nor throughout the season for a matter of fact.

  7. Al…

    So Doc Rivers comes out and says that any Griffin-Carmelo deal is utterly ridiculous yet the pundits at ESPN are still running with the story. Makes perfect sense. Par for the course for the network.

    And re: Holyfield, I’m not sure why it surprises anyone when an old school athlete like Holyfield, or anyone else for that matter, comes out and says something disparaging against minorities. First of all, Holyfield is pretty much brain dead from all the punches he’s taken to the head over his career and secondly, he probably felt that way from the very beginning.

    Keep in mind, he is old and he is from the South.

  8. Bleed…

    USC was pretty much irrelevant this year, at least by their standards, their only claim to fame was beating a Stanford team that ended up losing in the Rose Bowl. The Pac-12, which we thought was competitive for most of the year, turned out to be the same old average conference it always is.

    Here’s hoping next year’s USC-UCLA game goes back to meaning something.

  9. D…

    You are aware that if Auburn wins the game tonight, the Beaver wins himself a cool twelve hundred in that football poolso I guess we have to root War Eagle.

    Maybe he’ll buy us a drink or something.

    Doubtful but one can always dream.

  10. “What actually happened: After a lackluster and clearly unmotivated season, Clowney will still be the top pick taken, reminding us how meaningless a college football season can actually be.”

    Spot on, my friend. You nailed it. Nothing like watching an All-American mailing in an entire season.

  11. Chris

    Doc Rivers is a great deal wiser than any of the damn morons that ESPN has hired as on air analysts to provide any type of content, as it relates to the NBA .

    Speaking of the NBA , am I mistaken but when was Dennis Rodman appointed as an ambassador for the US to North Korea ? Apparently , The Worm will be taking a team of seasoned veterans to play several exhibition games against professional and semi-professional teams in that country at the invitation of the country’s President Kim Jong Un . What the ###k is wrong with Rodman ? Another athlete whose sense of outrage is simply nowhere to be seen as he remains an a###ole , while trying to suggest that one of the most repressive regimes around the globe can be trusted in the West . Rodman has no goddamn idea where he had probably traveled to when he first set foot on Korean soil .

    Nice win for the ‘noles over Auburn . Does that now mean that the Tide fans will remain in hiding until next season , while the Gators’ fans simply lick their wounds ?

    How the hell does Andrew Bynum still end up with a gig in the NBA ? He’s just been traded from the Cavs to the Bulls .

    David Stern should really revisit the drug testing issue within the NBA . Metta World Peace in a recent interview stated that Tim Tebow will win and guide a franchise to a Superbowl victory. On second thoughts he may well have meant that Tebow will be on winning Superbowl team before the New York Knicks ever win an NBA title during this decade or millennial. He could be right given how bad the Knicks are this year and have been over the past five years .


  12. Burns…

    I know some GMs might be taken aback by that but I’m not sure how many.

    Do you really mean to tell me they’ll pass on this kid or won’t they think that they, and whichever coach they employ, will be able to change him?

  13. Al…

    Pretty sure I’m not the only one out there thinking North Korea can keep Rodman. Did you hear who he brought out there with him? The NBA all-washed up team: Vin “Do they serve booze on this flight” Baker, Charles “Just one more lay-up attempt please” Smith, and Kenny “remember when I was the best point guard to ever come out of Georgia Tech” Anderson.

    Muschamp is on this ice this year in Gainesville. I recommend he come up with a multi-game winning streak quickly.

    Oh and Bynum doesn’t have a gig. That’s why the Bulls signed him and cut him.

    World Peace is a Tim Tebow fan? Sounds like he knows as much about football as he does about basketball.

    Gruden, huh? I guess maybe teams think by hiring him, they’ll lure his brother.

    Look forward to your Magic piece. God knows that team could use a little.

  14. Chris

    Rodman would be better off mending the sour relationship he has with his daughter and ex-wife, to whom he still owes child support and alimony. How @@@ked up is that situation ?

    Muschamp will be on a very tight leash this upcoming season and Jeremy Foley is already skating on thin ice as it is with the Gators’ boosters and alumni .

    The Magic are aimlessly heading absolutely nowhere under Jacque Vaughn and GM Rob Hennigan , who makes John Weisbrod and Otis Smith seem like members of MENSA or graduates from MIT .

    I yield to no man !

    tophatal ………….

  15. I’ll have my own unique take on Rodman coming up soon, Al, so stay tuned.

    You had to figure the Magic were going to have a down year, man. That roster is devoid of any talent whatsoever.

  16. And your final rankings are…

    1. Florida State, 14-0 (1) [11]
    2. Auburn, 12-2 (2) [NR]
    3. Michigan State, 13-1 (4) [NR]
    4. South Carolina, 11-2 (8) [6]
    5. Missouri, 12-2 (9) [NR]
    6. Oklahoma, 11-2 (11) [16]
    7. Alabama, 11-2 (3) [1]
    8. Clemson, 11-2 (12) [8]
    9. Oregon, 11-2 (10) [3]
    10. Central Florida, 12-1 (15) [NR]
    11. Stanford, 11-3 (5) [4]
    12. Ohio State, 12-2 (7) [2]
    13. Baylor, 11-2 (6) [NR]
    14. LSU, 10-3 (14) [12]
    15. Louisville, 12-1 (18) [9]
    16. UCLA, 10-3 (17) [21]
    17. Oklahoma State, 10-3 (13) [13]
    18. Texas A&M, 9-4 (20) [7]
    19. USC, 10-4 (NR) [24]
    20. Notre Dame, 9-4 (25) [14]
    21. Arizona State, 10-4 (16) [NR]
    22. Wisconsin, 9-4 (19) [23]
    23. Duke, 10-4 (22) [NR]
    24. Vanderbilt, 9-4 (NR) [NR]
    25. Washington, 9-4 (NR) [NR]

  17. Great write up, thoroughly entertaining, Thanks.

    Can’t believe that the Buckeyes fell as far as #12 or that USC somehow lost 4 times and still was awarded #19.

    Thanks for summarizing that preseason polls are futile fecal sprays and nothing more.

  18. This one came naturally, Tree.

    I mean I get that nobody could have seen UCF come from out of nowhere or Missouri and Auburn both going from worst to first but even so, the pollsters this year were as off as ever before.

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