A No. 1 ranking means next to nothing right now

If there was anything to be learned from South Carolina’s dominating win over No. 4 ranked Ole Miss on Thursday night, it’s that once again poll rankings in the month of September mean next to nothing.

Oh, I know that the Gators fans will soon be frothing at the mouth. That doesn’t mean that UF doesn’t deserve any respect as the defending national champion. Any team that returns all defensive starters and its star quarterback should automatically be seen as the frontrunner at the start of the season. (Although I still think UF could lose in the next two weeks.)

But the Rebels loss is just another reminder that current poll rankings are based on nothing more than smoke and mirrors and that any fan – or alumnus  – should not get their hopes up based on what some silly poll says.

For as great as FSU’s win over Brigham Young was, the fact that BYU was a No. 7 team was meaningless. Let’s see where the Cougars are in December before declaring this a victory over a substantial foe. Likewise, I’m not sure Miami’s win over Georgia Tech  is as big a deal as some might think it is. (What made it a good win for UM is that Tech rolled over them a year previously and Jacory Harris looked spectacular ripping apart the Yellow Jackets secondary.)

The plain fact is that just like the BCS is a fraud, so are these polls. They are based on the votes of people, coaches and sportswriters, who look at a box score, see a 15-second highlight, and spend maybe a nanosecond thinking about their pick. Maybe that explains why FSU – after obliterating the Cougars – is still ranked five spots BEHIND BYU in the latest coaches poll.

If polls remain a necessary evil – and as long as the Bowl Championship Series continues to legitimize them – they should not be done until at least the first four games of the season are done and over. It was a travesty that Tommy Bowden got run out of Clemson last year based on some erroneous pollster decision that the Tigers were suddenly a Top 5 team.

It is of course great to see all 3 Florida teams ranked in the Top 25 – but it won’t mean a thing if FSU loses to USF, UF loses to Kentucky and Miami loses to Virginia Tech. It will mean that this week’s poll rankings were nothing but an illusion and a tease to the fans of all three schools.

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