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Things Could Be Worse, We Could Be Michigan

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It makes for an interesting discussion. What's worse. A team no one expected to be good being exposed as...not being very good. Or a team expected to be among the best being exposed as...not among the best? A lot of lessons were learned across the nation this weekend. Before we get to the ones we learned in Cuse Nation, let's address one that isn't nearly being talked about enough...revamping the pre-season poll process.

We put so much time and effort into complaining about the post-season we never really stop and wonder about how the pre-season affects things in college football. How different would 2004 have ended up if Auburn were ranked in the pre-season Top Ten like USC and Texas instead of starting so much farther back? What about Boise State last year? It's naive to think that the opinions of a select few people don't help shape how the college football landscape as much as the players and coaches themselves.


This weekend we were all witness to the Greatest Upset Of All Time™. Being able to refer to
Washington's win over Syracuse Appalachian State's victory over Michigan as such was dependent on three variables:

1. Appalachian State is from the FCS (Div. 1-AA)

2. The game was played at Michigan

3. Michigan was ranked #5 in the country and considered a National Title contender.


As we now know, its extremely likely that the "experts" severely over-hyped Michigan. It begs the question, what if Michigan were ranked #15 or #18 this past weekend? Surely it still would have been a monumental upset but would it still be the Greatest Upset Of All Time™? What if Michigan finishes the season 8-4 or 7-5 and is revealed as a fraud to their initial ranking? Will it still stand the test of time?
The point is, pre-season rankings are given way too much emphasize. They are the opinions of a group of writers and coaches, most of whom are biased (whether they admit it or not) on their team, conference or region. They're also extremely overworked and couldn't possibly have the time to watch every game and analyze every team, especially coaches. We continue to take their word as gospel when in fact the average college football fan probably watched more games and has a more balanced view of things.

I don't think pre-season rankings will ever go away, there's too much money and conjecture involved with them. So fine, let the rankings exist. But let's agree they hold no value, at least not when it comes to the week-to-week. That is, until Week 4. That's the first "official" poll of the season. By then, everyone's played at least two if not three or four games and we have a much more realized view of each team. That team that looked amazing on paper and we thought was Top 5 team? Well they lost to a pushover and barely beat another team. Guess what? In the first real poll of the season, they're more of a #22 than a #12. Why continue to reward teams with high expectations over teams who actually get it done on the field just because the name on the front of their jersey is more famous?

Will any of this ever come to pass? Probably not. But it feels good to get it off my chest. Now the big question is, will Michigan drop out of the AP and Coaches Top 25 (they better but you know there will be votes just because)? There will be a new BlogPoll Wednesday and I can pretty much assure you they won't be in that one.

(AP Photo/Duane Burleson)