Week 2 of the 2015 college football season turned out to be a fairly exciting one. One of the bigger stories to come out of the weekend was Auburn needing overtime to defeat Jacksonville State in its home opener.
The Tigers began the season two weeks ago ranked No. 6 in the AP poll. After a seven-point win over an unranked Louisville team to open the year, the AP voters kept the Tigers at No. 6, which I suppose was understandable. Louisville, despite not being ranked, was probably perceived as a quality Power-5 opponent by the voters.
This last week was different. Jacksonville State was — for all intents and purposes — a schedule-filler who made the trip to Auburn basically for a paycheck. They were supposed to be that “cupcake” game that the traditional powers use to get right and put on a nice, low-stress exhibition for the fans. As we now know, that certainly was not the case on Saturday in Auburn.
The Tigers looked like anything but the national title contender so many people had them pegged as to start the year. In fact, when you compare their first two games of the season against the rest of the college football landscape, some (including myself) argue that they haven’t looked the part of a Top 25 team.
As you might expect, the Tigers took a tumble in the latest AP poll, falling from No. 6 all the way to No. 18. That’s a sizeable drop, but I was still curious as to why they were still ranked in the top 20. My interest was piqued enough to dig through every AP voter’s ballot and see where they had Auburn.
What I found shocked me a bit.
Eight AP voters — for whatever reason — still had Auburn in their top 10. Three had them at No. 10; two had them at No. 9, two had them at No. 7 and one voter kept them right at No. 6. It was these votes that kept the Tigers in the top 20, when they probably should be well outside of it.
On the one hand, we may be inclined to shrug off the AP poll. With the College Football Playoff committee in place, the poll theoretically means nothing. Realistically, however, the AP poll and rankings drive the narrative for the season. As I alluded to last week, the little numbers next to each team on the scoreboard are often how you and I determine quality wins or upsets. The Playoff committee members are only human. I have to think that, to some level, they are doing the same.
Having a vote for any award or poll is — in my opinion — a privilege that should not be abused. We should not accept anything less than due diligence from voters when it comes to making an informed decision. In the case of the AP Top 25, it really requires one of two things: watch the games or read the box scores. Your gut should not come into play. The AP poll is not supposed to be what a voter thinks should be the case, but rather their view on what actually is currently the case.
Right here at AthlonSports.com, I write a weekly column where I make “outrageous predictions.” Those are based on things that could possibly happen — and even that’s a reach. A college football poll of respected journalists, on the other hand, is supposed to be a collective interpretation of what has actually already happened. There’s no room for outrageousness in the rankings.
Any voter who has watched Auburn’s games — or even only read the box scores for that matter — and still thinks the Tigers are currently a top-10 college football team has no business voting in any national poll. That voter is either not paying attention to what’s going on or has an agenda.
Either way, there’s no place for those voters when it comes to a poll that helps drive the narrative and write the story of the college football season. College football fans deserve much better than someone who is just going through the motions or carrying out their own agenda.