Coaches’ Poll Reaction: It’s a Show About Nothing

USA Today published the initial Coaches’ Poll on Thursday. Within moments of its unveiling, articles went up all over the blogosphere discussing what the poll actually meant.

Believe it or not, it doesn’t take much to break it down for you. In fact, I can do so using the wit and wisdom of George Costanza:

“I think I can sum up the show for you with one word: NOTHING.”

Let’s be honest: the word nothing is precisely what the Coaches’ Poll actually means when it comes to selecting the four teams for the College Football Playoff.

Make no mistake about it: today’s poll – and the others that will follow it – has absolutely no bearing on which four teams will play for the national championship. According to the College Football Playoff’s official website, the most important factors in deciding which teams will qualify for the field are strength of schedule, head-to-head record, records against common opponents, and conference championships won. It also says under the rankings guidelines that the Selection Committee will have “a wealth of information including review of video, statistics and their own expertise to guide them in their deliberations.” Furthermore, the website states that it will not use a definitive formula (like the RPI) when making its decision.

No matter how you slice it, the selection guidelines make it clear that it’s not considering outside polls when it comes to determining the field.

Nor should it.

While well intentioned, the Coaches’ Poll isn’t nearly as accurate as it should be. Unlike the AP Poll – where the voters are glued to a TV set or two for 14 hours per day – most coaches don’t have time to watch a lot of college football games during the season because they’re (rightly) studying film to get their own team ready for the next game. As a result, most of them delegate the task to someone else on the staff.

Even if – and it’s a BIG if – the coaches did have the time and the energy to commit to voting, the poll is still subject to bias. As we saw in the BCS debacle of 2011, coaches voted strictly according to conference affiliation when deciding whether Alabama or Oklahoma State would play for the national championship.

And, for those keeping score at home, this type of blatant homerism (with a nod to TSS contributor Allen Kenney) happened in today’s poll. Even though virtually every preseason publication out there picked Arkansas to finish dead last in the SEC West, the Hogs still ended up No. 25 on someone’s ballot.

C’mon, the only way that the aforementioned vote makes sense is if the person in question meant to pick Arkansas State but checked the wrong box.

Regardless of what anyone intended, it’s clear that the Coaches’ Poll has a wide range of issues associated with it.

That, my friends, is why it’s not going to factor into the College Football Playoff selection process…

… and why the Coaches’ Poll is simply a show about nothing.

About Terry P. Johnson

Terry Johnson is the Associate Editor for The Student Section. He is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation.