There are a lot of things that don’t mean anything in sports; preseason rankings, preseason awards, and the first few weeks of the AP Poll, which I like to call the “Good for You, Bud” time of year. The title comes from a drunk John Elway when asked about how he feels receiving the Media Openness award from the PFWA, pro football writers association, which again is a pointless award and means nothing.
The reason I say that the AP Poll is a great candidate for this unique distinction is that it does not matter, and no one cares until late in the season. By no one cares, I mean even the voters do not care and have a huge bias. The best example is last week’s poll, where SEC East leader Tennessee was ranked number nine after losing to Texas A&M in overtime the week before, and getting taken to overtime with an unranked Georgia team.
The only reason that Tennessee was still ranked that high was the fact that they played #1 ranked Alabama and the media wanted a top 10 matchup this week. They needed another marquee matchup, outside of Ohio State and Wisconsin, but they did not get that as Tennessee was exposed as a fraud, as the fans who watched the games already knew.
The AP has always been biased to the SEC, like every other sports network, as they are the “premier football conference”, which only Alabama is. As of this writing, the SEC has eight teams in the AP top 25 poll while the next highest is the Big Ten and ACC with four each. In the top 10, however, the SEC has 2, Big Ten 4, and ACC 2 and Pac-12 and Big 12 with one apiece to round it out. So these networks are trying to tell me that the SEC is a powerhouse and can’t even get more than 2 top 10, and 3 top 13 teams? I don’t buy it, but I do buy the bias towards the SEC.
Most teams in the SEC play some easy non-conference games such as Western Kentucky, Kent State, and Chattanooga for Alabama and Prairie View A&M and Texas-San Antonio for Texas A&M. Are those teams that “the best college football conference plays”? No, those are teams that no one considers perennial national championship contenders.
Alabama is good, there is no doubt about that, but the rest of the SEC? Not so much, most of the time those teams play schools that are less skilled than them from other conferences. Other times the bottom feeders for the conference, such as Kentucky and Vanderbilt, get beat up on and they consider those wins “quality” cause they are in the SEC.
The AP Poll is so pointless because not only do they only use it for matchups, but they also put the best conferences on display. Everyone says that the AP Poll is all about record, but it is not, if it was then 7-0 Western Michigan would be higher up in the polls but they play in a bad conference. How the AP Poll gets decided is based not only on record but also which conference they are in and name recognition. So if you have a high ranking as John Elway would say “Good For You, Bud”, wait until the committee meets and decides later on this year before declaring yourself national contenders.