We could certainly do an entire post on the absurdity of the polls and how they impact the BCS standings. After all, nothing illustrates the system’s general failure quite like the University of Florida earning 47 points (good enough to be ranked No. 29) in the Harris Poll.
Yes, the same Florida team that’s on a three-game losing streak, its longest in 11 years.
No voters in their right mind would rank Florida among the top 25 teams in the nation this week. Not one in the AP, coaches’ or Legends Poll, featuring retired coaches, did.
There are all sorts of scientific theorems that show polls are incapable of accomplishing what the BCS is trying to accomplish, but even those could never assume the level of incompetence — or disinterest — of the Harris voters. They might be worse than the computers.
In a poll teams get one point for being ranked 25th, two for 24th and so on. To score 47 points, I assume, meant that a number of voters went against all logic and ranked the Gators in the 20s. This suggests that perhaps dozens of people the BCS believes are uniquely qualified to select the college football title game match-up have proven they aren’t actually paying attention to college football.
One of my Twitter followers, Matthew Gaskill, argued that perhaps it was just two people, one who put the Gators second and another third. At least he hoped so because, as he wrote, it “might be better to have 2 crazy voters than a couple dozen.”
This is the BCS.
This isn’t even the most inaccurate opinion polling involving the BCS, though.
In defending the system, the BCS seems to have given up with many of its traditional arguments that we defuse in the book. After all, touting the “charitable bowl games” isn’t a real good idea at this point.
Its new angle this year is to cite two “opinion polls” that claim the players and coaches are in favor of the BCS. As such, the BCS has a mandate to make sure nothing gets monkeyed with. Or so goes the BCS case. You’ll no doubt hear it during radio interviews.
As with any opinion poll, the most important part isn’t the answer but the question. You ask a question a certain way, you get a certain result. This is the basis for professional polling and why reputable surveys keep the question bland, obvious and honest.
And here’s the absurdity of citing these polls: Both questions are based on a false premise and therefore completely useless.
The American Football Coaches Association, run by a former BCS director, asked whether coaches “prefer the traditional bowl system over a playoff.” Professional pollsters would likely point out the use of a positive term such as “traditional,” but the real issue is that the choice isn’t a real world one.
As we show, in painstaking detail, the choice is never between playoff and bowls. You can, and would, have both. No bowls need to go out of business if you install even an expansive 16-team playoff and use home field for the first three rounds. Anyone who understands the business of bowl games understands this.
To suggest otherwise is wrong. To ask to choose between the two is a loaded question.
Of course coaches are going to choose the bowl system, especially when a specific playoff plan is not offered as an alternative. To just say, “playoff” leaves the coaches to imagine their own playoff scenario. It may include as few as four teams.
Since coaches get bonuses — often six figures — for appearing in a bowl game, they aren’t going to choose a postseason system that cuts participation from 70 teams to four. The majority of college football programs don’t expect they’ll ever reach the top four nationally. They’d be crazy to pick an undefined plan over one they know.
So 93 percent went with traditional bowl system.
The entire scenario is ridiculous, yet it gets cited repeatedly as the chief reason why the BCS should never even consider modernizing the postseason.
A more proper question is whether coaches prefer the traditional bowl system or a system that features a 16-team playoff featuring champions of all 11 conferences and the traditional bowl games for all the remaining teams.
If you want to slant it toward a playoff, you could add that the second scenario would pump more than $500 million a year into college athletics and would assuredly drive up coaching salaries.
In the AFCA poll, when offered any kind of specific plan, the coaches’ results changed. Even the meager plus-one garnered the support of 50 percent of coaches. The BCS talking point is that coaches don’t want anything about the BCS system changed; that’s obviously false when presented with other options.
The BCS use of the ESPN the Magazine players’ poll results is no different.
The false premise question is exactly the same: “Would you rather have an FCS-style, 16-team playoff (no bowls) or the current system?”
Like with the coaches’ poll, the question renders the results moot. Interestingly, the Magazine even mentioned that at least one of the players who rejected the 16-team plan did so because he favored a 32-team playoff. This is considerably different reason than claiming players are begging the BCS to be preserved.
More amusing is the BCS again cherry-picking that specific question. ESPN the Magazine also asked players: “Do you want a playoff?”
More than 62 percent of players said yes.
And like a Harris Poll voter still in love with the Gators, the BCS ignored actual results.
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