Last night, I was at C.J.'s pub hanging out with some law school friends (and a couple of players), and the conversation turned to the polls. Auburn barely adged out a BAD 2-7 Ole Miss team, Texas needed last minute heroics by the refs to keep 5-3 Texas Tech from winning, and Tennessee was trailing going into the 4th quarter, and only a Spurrier implosion allowed them to survive the week.
Several of my friends pointed at the close calls by one loss teams against crappy teams, and prognosticated that Notre Dame would move up in the polls after a big win, dropping other teams under the same logic that allowed pollsters to drop Notre Dame after close wins. They all agreed, nearly unanimously, that USC's loss to a crappy Oregon State team would drop them out of the top 10, allowing us to move up at least one spot.
I knew better. I told them that every other 1-loss team would move up a spot, Notre Dame would stay the same, and USC would drop down to the spot in front of Notre Dame.
I was too optimistic.
Notre Dame, the only 1-loss team this week to cover their spread, actually dropped a spot in the AP poll, being passed by Cal (who had a bye week), and USC dropped only six spots after losing to an unranked team, staying ahead of the Irish in both polls.
Here's what the media had to say about yesterday's games:
Auburn "slipped out of another SEC road trap" against "gritty Mississippi" and the Auburn "BCS title hopes [are] still alive."
Volunteers "hold strong against Gamecocks, stay in BCS title hunt," as they avoid "Spurrier's hex" and intercepted a "desperation heave," which they only had to do because "Ainge was out with a bad ankle on the [previous] series."
Texas "overcame four turnovers and erased the bad deficit" to win through "confidence and perseverance," and were only trailing because "Texas Tech played as well as [Mack Brown has] ever seen them play," and Texas Tech QB Harrell "had been nearly perfect in the first half" and even the big lead they overcame was "helped along by a fumble recovery."
Notice that nowhere in there does the media say that the 5-3 Red Raiders "struggled in the second half" or that 2-7 Ole Miss "made too many mistakes when it counted," or even that in their win over 5-2 South Carolina, Tennessee "didn't play well until the end." All of these things were said about Notre Dame's close wins over 3-0 Michigan State and 4-2 UCLA.
Even worse, the Irish dropped from #2 in the AP poll to #12 (10 spots) after losing to then #11, and currently undefeated #2 Michigan. However, after losing to unranked 4-3 Oregon State, USC drops only 6 spots, from #3 to #9. So, apparently, losing to the second best team in the country is somehow worse than losing to a Pac-10 also-ran.
This kind of blatant hypocrisy and bias is why college football needs a playoff. And at this point, the rankings are no longer defensible with vague "body of work" justifications.
Somebody please defend this for me, 'cause I just don't get it:
Notre Dame (7-1)
GAME: Close Win over 0-0 Georgia Tech 14-10 (currently leading ACC, ranked #20)
RESULT: Notre Dame drops in both polls
GAME: Big Win over 1-0 #19 (AP and ESPN) Penn State (currently 4th in Big Ten) 41-17
RESULT: Notre Dame moves back up to #2 in AP, up to #3 in ESPN
GAME: Big Loss to #11 AP/#13 ESPN Michigan (currently leading Big Ten, unanimous #2) 47-21
RESULT: Notre Dame drops 10 spots in both polls
GAME: Close Win over 3-0 Michigan State (has tanked since this game)
RESULT: Dropped one spot in ESPN poll, stayed same in AP poll
GAME: Big Win over 4-0 Purdue (has tanked since this game)
RESULT: Moved up two spots in ESPN poll, stayed same in AP poll
GAME: Big Win over 0-5 Stanford 31-10
RESULT: Moved up 3 spots in AP, 4 in ESPN
RESULT: Dropped one spot in AP poll
GAME: Close Win over 4-2 UCLA (top 10 defense) 20-17
RESULT: Dropped 2 spots in ESPN poll (passed by Florida, who had a bye, and Tennessee, who also had a close win)
GAME: Big Win over 5-2 Navy 38-14
RESULT: Dropped one spot in AP poll (passed by Cal, who had a bye)
Averaged drop after losses for the top 1-loss teams (week of the loss, and overall change in ranking since the loss):
Notre Dame by 26 to #11 Michigan: week of: -10 change since: -1
Auburn by 17 to unranked Arkansas: week of: -8 change since: +1
Texas by 17 to #1 Ohio State: week of: -6 change since: +4
USC by 2 to unranked Oregon State: week of: -6 change since: N/A
Tennessee by 1 to #7 Florida: week of: -2 change since: +11
California by 17 to #23 Tennessee: week of: -12 change since: +12
At this point, I'm willing to begin entertaining conspiracy theories, as Notre Dame is held to a double standard. Winning big over a bowl team in an away game drops us in the polls. But winning close games against bad teams allow other teams to move up. Taking a bye week makes us drop in the rankings compared to teams who win games that week. However, other teams' bye weeks allow them to pass us, even though we win a game that week.
Notre Dame should lead the charge to do away with the BCS and institute a playoff. And don't tell me it can't be done - Division I-AA, II, and III already do it.