Way-Too-Early College Football Rankings Have Too Much Sway

Jan 15, 2021, 1:35 PM
Devin Lloyd - Utah Utes...
(Photo courtesy of Utah Athletics)
(Photo courtesy of Utah Athletics)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Within minutes after Alabama finished off Ohio State to win the national title, again, there was a slew of publications releasing their way-too-early college football top 25 rankings.

Those can be fun to look at to see where teams are projected but there is a problem with these early rankings, according to KSL Unrivaled.

While none of these officially matter, they do put an imprint in the mind of the Associated Press and the coaches poll voters come August and they may also have an impact on the midseason College Football Playoff rankings.

These early polls can provide some context about who is good for the upcoming year, and there will be some big-time whiffs, just look at Penn State, Oregon, and LSU heading into the 2020 season, they all were a consensus top 10 team. All three failed to finish in the top 10, Penn State had a losing record, LSU was 5-5, and Oregon lucked its way into the Fiesta Bowl while finishing unranked in the two major polls.

The good side of these polls is that having teams ranked gives those programs and leagues some good publicity during the spring and summer.

Early Polls Really Are Just Dumb Fun

Seeing your favorite team ranked is exciting even though the season is about eight months away and that is the camp KSL Sports’ Scott Mitchell is in when he saw Utah ranked No. 11 in Stadium’s early top 25.

“Stadium got it right outside the stadium, going over some of them it was one outlet, one media, whatever that actually did their home and got it right,” Mitchell said. “They’re the only ones that put Utah in the top 25 and they matter. Stadium actually went through and they paid attention because this Utah football team is really good. Being able to play five games was so valuable to this team.”

That Stadium poll was the only one to rank the Utes out of about a dozen or so that published an early top 25. So, there is a large variant on where teams ranked, and in this case specifically with Utah. Even being ranked in one poll does good for the program to get your name out there.

KSL Sports Alex Kirry has a different view in that these polls. He said they are just silly even if they do carry a little weight heading into the next season.

“I don’t want to admit it, but they stinking matter because wherever you are at the beginning, it’s just advantageous for you,” Kirry Says. “It’s totally fake. It’s garbage. You are ranking teams that we frankly know nothing about, or you would think, well, ‘why isn’t this team rated the same way or put with the same weight as these other teams?'”

These way too early rankings are a double-edged sword. On one hand, it is great to be ranked in the top 25 and be recognized for what is expected to be a really good season. Then on the other hand, there are teams that get the benefit of the doubt like Texas, USC, and other blue blood programs and there is the possibility of falling flat and having a bad season when expectations are high.

When looking at these top 25 rankings in January, just go with the flow and if your favorite team is ranked great but if it is not don’t sweat it too much.

Tune into KSL Unrivaled every Monday through Friday, 7-9 p.m., or subscribe to the podcast. Also, download the all-new KSL Sports app on iOS or Android.

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