One more instance of the absurdity of sports in the 21st century is the ranking of the top 120 college football teams in the July 4th issue of Sporting News. Polls published two months before the season begins we have come to expect, but SN should be penalized for having too many teams on the field.
Certainly there will always be interest in the best teams, those that are likely to go undefeated or perhaps lose once or twice. But what prestige is there for schools at the bottom? Right now undergraduates at LSU can shout, “We’re number 1!” What can those attending 119th-ranked BallState claim except (in a chagrined whisper), “At least we’re not last.”
Writers for Sporting News judiciously did not include predicted win-loss records for the chosen ones. A fair number of the 120 will finish no higher than fifth in their conferences. Do teams that need to schedule three non-conference patsies to finish 7-6 deserve to be in the same numerical list with perennial powers like Alabama and Oklahoma?
After reading the article, I asked myself “How far is the 120th best team from the nation’s worst team?” and “How bad does a team have to be not to make this list?” Will Sporting News follow the pattern prevalent among some youth leagues now in which each player receives an award no matter how inept he or she is? Perhaps in July 2012 we will see the “Sporting News Preseason 246” which will reward every Division I college or university with a spot just for being able to put two dozen bodies on a field for three months. What quotes will accompany those teams wallowing near the bottom of the pile?
240. Bridgemoor Tech. Coach Ted Ashley: “Having our first two quarterbacks declared scholastically ineligible didn’t hurt us as much as when parole was revoked for our entire offensive line. We might be punting on second down a lot this fall.”
241. Forlorn State. RB Galen Tolliver: “We’re trying to learn from our past mistakes. Our goal this year is not to turn the ball over more than five times a half.”
242. Brecken Ridge. Coach Taylor Carr: “This is a rebuilding year so our staff is stressing fundamentals. By mid-season we hope to have our players comfortable with jumping jacks and sit-ups.”
243. Middle Delaware. Defensive Coordinator Chauncey Lupine: “We’re going to be more aggressive with a new 3-4 defensive alignment. For some reason, we got no sacks with our old package of two down linemen with nine defensive backs, and teams were picking up 600 yards a game against us on the ground.”
244. Lazy River. QB Lance Kitchener: “I feel our offense is going to cross midfield more often this year which should give all our players more confidence. Last year our kicker quit the team after four games because his shortest field goal attempt was farther away from the end zone than the spot where he kicked off from.”
245. Surfeit U. Coach Mike Chumley: “Somehow we need to attract more players at the skill positions and less 300-pound behemoths. We have 18 different options for the tackle eligible play. All of our receivers are wide–three feet wide.”
Suggestion for whatever school finishes at 246: Drop football, replace it with croquet.