Well it’s that time of the usual Fall Sunday. The polls are out, and though Tech took a bit of a hit last week, it was worse in the unexpectedly more stingy Coaches poll our week 5 popularity contest ratings were AP (16) and Coaches (19). That was far less of a drop than Oklahoma was treated to, this week.
Virginia Tech is currently ranked 15th in the completely meaningless for playoff purposes AP Poll. The very much involved in the playoff decisions Amway Coaches Poll has us listed at 17th. Like our mild drop from last week, this small bump up was not unexpected. At this point of the season the AP poll might even be a hair generous.
What I do know is that Oklahoma took a huge hit; both AP and Coaches dumped them from 3rd to 12th. That basically knocks them out of “playoff” contention, and somehow that bothers me.
Yes, Losing stinks. In certain fields perfection, or near perfection is the only success. In Division 1A (Is there a B, or 2?) with its poll and committee based quasi-playoff structure, the concept of winning and perfection are conjoined twins. There is something fundamentally corrupting about that concept. There are conferences, and divisions (unless you are the Big XII then you have too many teams for a division, but too few for a conference and no defenses) with "Champions" scattered here and there. The issue is that ultimately if you lose more than one game, or even one game to the wrong team, the "National Championship" is an impossibility. That leaves the vast pile of “nondescript” teams with records ranging from 6-6 to 10-2 to vie for various exhibition bowls. Those are basically revenue streams for bowl committees and athletic departments. Fun, for sure - Josh and I will forever cherish the thrill of covering the Belk Bowl last season; but almost tragic in a way. Winning is consistently is brutally difficult; and the demand to be perfect year after year gives few "Cinderellas" any sort of chance to compete.
All of that means the self-reinforcing death spiral of recruiting biases the programs that win championships that then get the premier talent in droves, that then allow for the fielding of teams that win championships that brings in the big money that makes the program (not school mind you) more attractive to the talent, that then brings more power to the field that wins more championships. You get the picture. We are currently in some sort of crescendo of a circle of fewer than 8 programs that can sustain any sort of depth approaching the company of the "eligible". Has anyone noticed that for the last few years, the trophy gets passed back and forth between a few big names, and everyone else can pick up the table scraps, booger Bowls, and minor "Championships"?
This is the mess that every professional sports league has worked to prevent. The Parity and Awe of the NFL, the luxury taxes of MLB and other leagues, the talent drafts are all professional organizational responses to what is going on in NCAA FBS Divison 1A football. Domination of "winning" by a few programs with big money constitute gravitational wells of talent. This situation allows very few programs the opportunity to compete on a level playing field for that talent.
What can be done about it at the collegiate level? I don't know. The conversation should be had, because frankly, it's getting boring out there, except for the few blessed programs and their fan bases.
Until then we have to live with what we have. If Tech by some miracle won the ACC, there is only a slim chance for it to be “invited” to the 4 team “playoff”. That’s a shame.