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No reason for preseason polls
By Jack Arute
Special to BCSfootball.com

The first two polls are out, which simply reinforces my longstanding position that polls before the first weekend are October is useless.

Nebraska -- No. 1?

Florida State -- No. 2?

Alabama -- No. 3?

Players have hardly put the pads on for preseason practice. So what's wrong with this scenario?

In past years, the computer rankings in the BCS have been the subject of much criticism. This season, the campaign should be mounted to abolish polls until October. (I know folks who follow Notre Dame would agree, even though I don't see the Irish being in a poll come October, November or December.)

The early-season polls are simply a reward for past performances. The downside is that a team that is poised to have a breakout season may find itself either mired deep in the standings or not on the board at all. Before the Bowl Championship Series, that would have spelled disaster.

Seldom, if ever, has an unranked team marched through a college football season to win a then-mythical national championship. At least with the BCS coming out in the third week of October, there is time for the polls to level off and get real.

Bobby Bowden
Bobby Bowden is shooting for his third Sears Trophy, and second in a row.
The preseason polls do create situations that coaching staffs must deal with. The Florida State Seminoles are smarting from what they deem is a snub by both writers and coaches. Bobby Bowden would have liked nothing better than to use a No. 1 ranking as motivation. Now, he must switch gears and remind his players that Nebraska has never been ranked No. 1 in preseason and gone on to win the national championship.

If there is a positive side to preseason polls, it is that some teams get recognition and, like a Top 40 record rating in Billboard Magazine, have a bullet affixed to their ranking. Case in point: Alabama. Wasn't it just 12 months ago that head coach Mike DuBose was in danger of losing his job?

Virginia Tech finds itself in the same situation it faced a year ago. A big difference this season is that people know about Michael Vick. What they don't know about is Frank Beamer's kicking game and defense.

Michigan, picked to win the Big Ten title, will not be your father's Michigan in 2000. Look for the unveiling of an Air Henson attack. A Ron Dayne-less Wisconsin Badgers team will make the Big Ten a fascinating conference.

In Big XII country, it's the same old song: Nebraska, Kansas State and Texas. But folks in Oklahoma can't wait for the season to start. I wonder what their expectations will be by midseason.

The next 30 days will define the 2000 college football season. So go ahead and read the preseason polls, but remember that they are for entertainment purposes only. The gridiron wars get serious in the weeks leading up to the all-important unveiling of the first BCS rankings. Don't take my word for it? Coaching staffs across the country have enlisted walk-on chipheads to run the numbers week-in and week-out to see where their teams will fall.

Jack Arute writes a weekly column on Mondays for ABC Sports Bowl Championship Series Online

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