5 Thoughts - The Embarrassment of the Polls

Posted Oct 16, 2006

How can Darren McFadden and Arkansas, with only a loss to USC, be ranked so far behind Auburn? What should happen to the fighting Miami and FIU players, why Rutgers matters, and more in the latest 5 Thoughts.

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Your complaint isn’t with the BCS, it’s with the …

By Pete Fiutak   
1.  Human polls. At this time of year, everyone likes to whine about the BCS and its place in the sports universe. The BCS isn’t bad, it’s actually better than the old poll ‘n’ bowl system, but it’s not a playoff, so that’s why you don’t like it.

So, you’re mad at the initial BCS rankings when they were released on Sunday because you don’t like where your team is ranked. Fine, but first, remember that the BCS takes a picture of the entire season and will change wildly. However, because the human polls carry so much weight, they’re the determining factor with the Coaches’ and Harris Poll each counting as 1/3. That’s why, it you’re mad at the BCS, be mad at the humans.

I firmly believe you have to rank teams based on how good they are right now unless there’s a clear-cut way to rank them based on what has actually happened on the field. USC is unbeaten and gave Arkansas its only loss. Arkansas gave Auburn its only loss. Auburn gave Florida its only loss, Florida gave Tennessee its only loss, and Tennessee gave Cal its only loss. Therefore, among those teams at the immediate moment, it should go USC, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Tennessee, Cal, right? Not according to the coaches who have it USC, Auburn, Tennessee, Florida, Cal, and Arkansas, who’s ranked 11 spots lower than the Tiger team it thumped in Jordan-Hare.

Even more puzzling and pathetic is the Harris Poll, which has the luxury of starting its poll in midseason and not have to deal with preconceived, preseason notions. It has Auburn ahead of Tennessee, who’s ahead of Florida, who’s ahead of Arkansas, who’s ranked ten spots lower than Auburn. This is an embarrassment to college football and gives no credibility whatsoever to the BCS rankings. Pollsters, if you’re going to vote, do your homework.

Miami and FIU offending players should be done for good

By Pete Fiutak   
.  Let’s see if the NCAA , Miami, and Florida International really care about college athletics. Oh sure, the NCAA is all too happy to declare a player ineligible for taking a few bucks, and now it has to show that it won’t tolerate violence by going to the video tape and declaring permanently ineligible the Miami and FIU players who were kicking, stomping, bashing with helmets and more in their ugly fight on Saturday night.

There’s no place for that anywhere, there’s no place for that in college football, and there’s absolutely no excuse for that to happen. If you’re going to represent your university, you can’t be out there stomping on players, like Miami All-America safety Brandon Meriweather was doing, and you can’t be whacking players with your helmet like Miami’s Anthony Reddick did, and you can’t be involved in a fight like that. Defending yourself is one thing, but the ugliness in the Orange Bowl was something different. The schools took a good first step by suspending 31 between the two, and now that should be the end of their careers. Playing college football is a privilege, not a street fight. Go. Bu-bye.

An unfortunate end, if it’s the end, to Adrian Peterson’s NCAA career

By Richard Cirminiello
. Assuming that Adrian Peterson’s college career ended with Saturday’s broken collarbone, now is a good time to reflect on one of the all-time great college backs.  Peterson’s true freshman season was a thing of beauty, a once-in-a-generation performance from a truly unique prodigy.  That blend of power and speed wrapped in a boyish grin represented all that was good about college football in 2004.  However, doesn’t it seem as if everything since then has been a major detour from expectations?  Peterson never did win a Heisman, hoist a National Championship trophy or even cop a rushing title.  Let the records show that unlike a Maurice Clarett, who frittered away his own future, it wasn’t Peterson’s fault.  The support, either from the quarterback or the offensive line, was never there like it was in 2004, forcing him to carry the burden of the offense and often multiple tacklers on his back.  Peterson’s final play of 2006 was a dashing 53-yard bolt for the end zone, a fitting and lasting impression just in case that was his final carry in a Sooner uniform.

Rutgers will help determine the 2006 national champion

By Matthew Zemek
No, that's not a misprint.

While it's true that Navy's starting quarterback, a quality runner named Brian Hampton, suffered a dislocated knee in the first half of Saturday's game in Annapolis, what's also undeniable is that Rutgers was thoroughly prepared against Paul Johnson's very slippery triple option attack.

 Rutgers clearly possesses more than a little muscle and discipline on defense. The Scarlet Knights have become so good and so confident under Greg Schiano that they will thoroughly test both Louisville and West Virginia in a beefed-up Big East. After several weeks of quietly watching this team stay undefeated, the emphatic blasting of Navy suggests that Rutgers has the chops to knock off one of the Big East's big boys, thereby having a profound effect on the national title race... especially if the victim is the winner of the WVU-Louisville game. USC, Texas, Tennessee or Cal could send Greg Schiano--and Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini), a Rutgers alum--a Christmas card before heading to Glendale on January 8.

The return of the Wolverines

By John Harris
For the last few years, it had gotten very difficult to watch Michigan football without getting angry about, well, honestly, the way they threw their helmet on the field and thought they would win.  Then, in 2005, the program hit rock bottom, well, rock bottom for Michigan, when the Wolverines finished 7-5, after losing to Nebraska in the Alamo Bowl.  The Wolverines had the athletes and the players, but it seemed they couldn’t get away from the underachieving tag.  But, one year later, this is a different team.  What is shocking in a sense is that these are the same players that took the field last year.  Leon Hall.  LaMarr Woodley.  Alan Branch.  Chad Henne.  Mike Hart.  The offensive line.  Steve Breaston.  Same guys.  Why the change?  How does a team underachieve so immensely and then turn into the Maize and Blue Mean Machine?  Everything about this team screams intimidation, especially on defense, yet the question is how.  How can a team turn it around so quickly in one year?  What’s the magic formula?  Is there a magic formula?  Other teams have loads of returning starters and never shed their skin as this team has done.  It’s maddening in one sense and captivating in another.  Newly assigned coordinators, Mike DeBord on offense and Ron English on defense, have breathed life into this team on both sides of the ball, but it’s more than that.  There’s a nastiness inherent in this team this year, a killer instinct has emerged.  Maybe it’s just Michigan’s time.  Just like it was in 1997, one year after Michigan lost three out of four to finish the 1996 season.  No matter how the second half of the season turns out for Michigan it’s nice to see the Wolverines no longer ‘expecting’ to win, but taking care of business as they should’ve been for quite some time.