Viewpoint: Conference affiliation shouldn’t matter in polls

Ryan Finn
Ryan Finn

By Ryan Finn

With the growing disparity in college football nowadays, it’s easy to get the idea that there might be a bit of bias in regards to the major rankings. To see an example of this, look no further than the recent polls just released.

The latest AP poll released features five members of the Southeastern Conference in the top 10. One of those members finished last season on a two-game losing streak, and started the year off in unimpressive fashion, yet they are third in the country. Another team had started the season ranked outside of the top 20, and after beating another member of their own conference, actually moved up more than 10 spots into the top-10 rankings.

The SEC has been on the forgiving side of what some college football fans might refer to as “favoritism.” For fans of Baylor and the Big 12 Conference as a whole, the topic of “SEC bias” has long been a debate that we are tired of talking about.

Take a team like South Carolina, who had a barely-passable showing a week ago against East Carolina, as well as playing horrendously to open the season against Texas A&M, is able to jump three separate undefeated teams after a win against another, you guessed it, SEC opponent. To AP voters they had a “solid win over a top-10 SEC opponent.” So does this automatically erase the sub-par performances in the first two weeks of the season then? Apparently.

The SEC did have a terrific stretch, winning six consecutive National championships from the 2007 season through the 2012 season. But predicated on that statistic doesn’t necessarily mean that every member of the conference should be granted immediate access into the polls based solely on their conference affiliation. What about Ohio State, who before losing in the Big 10 championship this past season was slated to play in the National Championship game against Florida State? This was all but certain until questions arose about the Buckeyes, and their “strength of schedule”. One-loss Auburn was even getting votes to jump ahead of that undefeated Ohio State team going into the final weekend of the regular season.

Were there any other one-loss teams from conferences outside of the SEC even getting remotely mentioned for an at-large bid in the title game? Can’t think of any. Auburn then went on to lose in the title game to Florida State, and Alabama had a poor showing in the Sugar Bowl against Oklahoma, which led to remarks of, “Well Alabama just wasn’t interested because it wasn’t the National Championship.”

The point I’m getting at is based on the premise that your conference affiliation shouldn’t matter. The voters look too much into that. What should hold the most substantial weight in determining poll position is who you’ve beat, who you’ve lost to, and how you’ve looked doing either one.

Ryan Finn is a junior journalism major from Fredericksburg. He is a reporter for the Lariat.