09 September 2007


After seeing the absolutely dominant performance that Louisiana State University put up against Virginia Tech this Saturday, I am thoroughly convinced of their right to play for the national title. Now I know this isn't strictly Clemson related, but I'll tie in our boys here if you'll bear with me while I gripe. The AP poll has been mucking things up in my mind since they delivered a split national title to LSU when they clearly and convincingly won the Bowl Championship Series championship. Thinking this was completely unfair, I complained at length, though not in such a forum as this. Of course not to be outdone, the poll once again screwed a team deserving of at least a chance to play for the title. When Auburn won the perennially tough SEC in 2004 and went on to edge out Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl, completing a 12-0 season, they were not afforded a top ranking, despite being undefeated. Why can the University of Southern California, receive a title when they had one loss for the year ( a thrashing at the hands of California) and Auburn not, when they defeated powerhouses in the SEC including LSU, Georgia and Florida?

Before I continue, let me give you a little background on the poll. The Associated Press Poll in its first incarnation came about in 1934, taking the 1935 season off and returning in its current form in 1936. The poll's purpose was to originally rank the top 25 teams in NCAA football each week, ultimately deciding who would play in the big money bowl games ( now known as the BCS Bowls). The AP is one among many such football polls, but undoubtedly has the longest history, despite no longer being used as part of the BCS formula. A group of hand picked sports writers and journalists vote each week by ranking the top 25 teams they think are deserving of a spot in the poll. Teams are given points based on where they are ranked, and a final poll is compiled. First place votes are worth 25 points, while second place votes are worth 24, and 25th place votes are worth 1 point. A list of the current voters in the AP poll can be found here. The BCS is a flawed system no doubt and no matter what system is used, someone will find fault with it and complain. I have come to terms with this, college football is a lot about money, and we can't change that, so we have to live with it. Until a time comes when the money doesn't matter, the big money schools will continue to grab national championships.

Back to the poll once again, I prayed to God, which I don't often do, that the sports writers would give LSU it's due this week. I mean, come on, they have arguably one of the toughest schedules one can have, and they dominated the number 9 team in the country, one who is never perennially a cream puff opponent. Why was this not convincing enough for the writers? It was for some of course, but not for all. LSU received 25 first place votes this week, finishing just twelve points shy of USC who had 40 votes. This tells me that for everyone who didn't rank USC #1, they ranked them much lower, perhaps even out of the top 5. Why do they continue to pay homage to this team at the expense of other more deserving teams. I agree USC is a good program, but I doubt very seriously if they played in the SEC they would have such prestige. Ok, I'm off my soap box now, moving on to others in the polls.

Our most hated football team, the U of SC Gamecocks, jumped from 33rd in the poll last week to 17th, passing our own Tigers who landed at 20th. And I'll wait now for every Shamecock reading this to rabble about how great Steve Spurrier is and how they'll go to the BCS this year. You beat an overrated Georgia team, so what? We beat an overrated FSU team by a greater score than you, and had a far more dominating performance, but we're not prognosticating championships. Talk to us after you visit the rest of the SEC, then we'll see what's happening.

Rounding out the poll are some other notables, Tennessee, after thrashing Southern Miss, jumps from 24th to 22nd, while Texas A&M who squeaked out a triple overtime win against Fresno State drops from 23rd to 25th. Auburn's completely out of the poll along with Boise State, TCU, with newcomers BC, Oregon and SC taking their spots in the top 25.

So which team is getting screwed and which ones are overrated? Who knows. I'm not complaining about Clemson's spot, I think that's right where we need to be for now. I don't want to see us jump significantly until after we take on a real opponent, and by that I don't mean NC State or Furman. Georgia Tech is looking scary, but who knows how we'll fare against them, ND was a joke opponent this year and I don't think we'll have a fair assessment of their capabilities until they play BC.
And now for a moment of zen....