In this week’s AP college basketball poll, the San Diego State Aztecs (7-1) dropped one spot from 17th to 18th despite going 2-0 during the week. You might be thinking at this point that it’s because they played weak competition, and that’s true. The Aztecs’ two wins came over Texas Southern and UC-Santa Barbara, both double digit wins. Not exactly incredible competition there.
However, that’s not why the Aztecs dropped.
Instead, their ranking changed because one reporter, Elton Alexander, from the Cleveland Plain Dealer, thought the SDSU Aztecs were the University of San Diego Toreros. Alexander ranked USD in what should have been SDSU’s spot while leaving the Aztecs unranked, causing the drop in the AP poll. Yeah, you read that right.
In college basketball, this isn’t a world-ending mistake. The in-season polls aren’t all that important because college basketball has a playoff at the end of the season, one the Aztecs would surely get into based on being a top 25 team regardless of whether they win their conference tournament or not.
But that’s the point. College basketball has a system that de-emphasizes polls because they, here comes the shocker, are flawed. All the time.
College football still hasn’t figured this out. In fact, the biases and issues related to the polls actually might be helping out the major conferences. Need evidence? Look no further than the coaches’ poll, which is part of the BCS formula.
College football doesn’t have a playoff, so it relies on the judgement of computers, the Harris Poll and the coaches’ poll. Yet there’s no way college football coaches have the time to watch enough games to have an informed opinion on potential rankings. Naturally, this leads to scandals like coaches ranking unbeaten Notre Dame fourth behind three in-conference rivals (Vanderbilt’s James Franklin), lying about where he ranked his own team (USC’s Lane Kiffin) and gaining a reputation for begging his colleagues for votes in the coaches poll (Texas’ Mack Brown).
And this is all part of the formula to help determine the mythical national champion!
So thank you to college basketball for making yet another salient point about the deep flaws in college football that still remain. Sure, one sportswriter messed up his ballot, but no one should be worried about SDSU. Yet college football coaches spend nearly every week of the season showing actual, provable bias in their ballots, and we’re all just sort of okay with that too.