Yesterday, as I continued my meandering through the desolate hellscape which is the collegiate football off-season, I glanced at my watch to check the date, and when I say "glanced at my watch", I mean "glanced at my cell phone", because the year is 2012 and watches are obsolete. However, I happened to notice we're almost halfway through the month of June, which means pre-season polls and Heisman "watch lists" will soon be upon us like a Biblical plague.
I think one of the problems with college football is that the media is too busy worrying about who the 7th best team in the country is going to be rather than actually writing about anything substantive. The ramifications are, of course, the masses are more worried about where their team or favorite player stands on some idiot's list of conjecture than doing the right thing for the athletes. This is how the beat continues to go on year after year, without anybody asking any real questions on anything that actually matters. (Maybe this is how we arrived at "schools" paying shadow technology companies thousands of dollars to stalk the social media of student-athletes. Everybody is allowed to make money in college football, you see, except for the athletes.)
Though, as I stand here awaiting the annual tsunami of conjecture, I'm left to ask... what in the hell is the point of pre-season polls in the first place?
One of my biggest pet peeves about preseason polls is how many self-righteous sports writers think they're tackling their duties with the utmost objectivity. Is there a bigger fallacy amongst human beings than the idea they have the ability to be "objective"? Subjectivity is the definition of individual human existence, and only a fool would say they possess the ability to put a lifetime of notions, beliefs and experiences aside to judge something "objectively".
There are over one hundred FBS teams in the country. Nobody, except the unemployed or bed-ridden, has the time to sit around and watch every single second of every single game which is played every week. Does this mean it will stop sports-writers from pretending like they have? Obviously not. In smaller leagues this leads to asinine things like weekly "power rankings" from goofs like John Clayton.
That's fine in the NFL, where power rankings are nothing more than blog fodder to get idiots through their mindless workdays, but in college football, these pre-season rankings actually have an effect on who plays for the national title. Is that a rational way of going about things? I'm not so sure.
If college football is going to legitimize this idea that large, variously regulated groups of people can effectively and accurately rank teams, then why don't they delay all official polls until the beginning of conference play? Remember last year, how every media schmutz awarded Oklahoma the #1 pre-season ranking because they all like Bob Stoops and he had a bunch of returning players? That ended about as well as the Heisenberg. And even if Oklahoma had went wire to wire as the #1 team in the country, wouldn't that have merely been an exception to the rule?
I get it. It's the off-season, which isn't fun unless large groups of student-athletes are getting busted for multi-state cocaine rings, but it's my hope that one day the national media will abandon the folly of the arbitrary pre-season polls. It is, however, known that the masses will devour whatever the gatekeepers of media push upon them, so maybe placing my hope in the advancement of off-season discourse is the true folly.