Every summer college football fans are forced to endure the release of pre-season publications. Each of these so called “Insider” publications releases their rankings on every single college football team in the nation. More often than not the BCS schools reap the benefits of magazines that compile these rankings. Last year you could not find one magazine that had Boise State in the top five to end the season. In 2004 there would not be one magazine that ranked Utah in their top five before the season started. Yesterday Athlon released their projections on the 2007 football season. Picking Fresno State to finish fifth in the WAC did not surprise me in the least. I understand why Athlon feels Fresno State will be no better than 7-5. Fresno State is coming off of a 4-8 season and that alone will give the Dogs very little chance to begin the season in the top half of the WAC with respect to magazine predictions. While I can’t say picking us to finish fifth surprises me I will say the way they ranked the WAC with respect to position players makes little sense at all. That is why I called this article Lost in Translation, because 90% of the time there is absolutely no way to explain why the magazines rank teams the way they do.
If you take a look at Athlon’s publication you will notice they rank the Fresno State defensive line as the second best unit in the WAC. That leads me to believe that either the WAC has the worst set of defensive lines in the nation or Athlon sees something in this defensive line that I don’t. I realize we have some skilled players on the line but that by far is the one area that completely lacks any depth and has relatively small size. Aside Shirley there isn’t a run stopper in the group and for Fresno State’s defensive line to be successful they are going to have to have some unsung players step up and make a difference. At the same time somehow this publication feels our LB’s are in the bottom three of the WAC. With players such as Riley and Brown the LB’s have more speed than they have ever possessed leading me to believe that Athlon did not do any research to garner their results. But the point I really want to get across here is the fact that the magazines and their predictions mean absolutely nothing. Each and every single one of you Fresno State fans could come up with just as valid a rankings system as a Lindy’s, Athlon’s and so on. The way to do so is grab a hat. Take the hat and place nine pieces of paper with the following names on them: Nevada, SJSU, Fresno State, Hawaii, La. Tech, Boise State, NMSU, Idaho, and Utah State. Take the hat and shake it around really well. When you are finished shaking put your hand in the hat and remove your first piece of paper. To show how awful these publications are I actually picked the WAC in the manner I just explained. Here is how the pieces of paper came out of the hat:
2) Boise State
3) Fresno State
4) San Jose State
5) La. Tech
8) Utah State
Now take a look at that list I just published. How do most of you feel about that finish in the WAC? You know how much research I did to come up with that predicted finish? I did absolutely no research nor did I use any system to come up with this predicted order of finish. Instead I used dumb luck and I think I came up with a much better finish than Athlon did, but I will leave that up to everyone who reads the FSFB to decide.
Pre-season rankings are a joke and they always will be. The major corporations that publish these magazines do all they can to cater to the BCS schools because they know if they put USC #1 that they will make a much larger amount of money when the USC fans decide to go out and buy every magazine they can find. Although I do feel the Trojans will be the #1 school in the nation this season the same would occur if #1 were Michigan, Florida, or any other big time program from a BCS conference. To rank a school #1 before it has played a game is asinine yet that is exactly what we have become accustomed to in the college football world. Here’s an idea to counter the rankings that are released before the season begins. Let’s take those rankings and pretend they don’t exist. Let’s sit back and watch college football for the first six games of the season. When those six games are over we then take the team’s performances on the field and rank them accordingly. Two weeks later we release the first BCS rankings and go from there. Every other sport in the world ranks their teams before the season begins but that is absolutely acceptable. The reason is every other sport has a playoff to decide the champion. College football gives a team ranked #1 to begin the season a decisive edge over any other team to play in the national championship game. As long as we allow companies such as Athlon to continue ranking teams well before the season begins the college football landscape will never change. Although they placed Fresno State fifth do remember one thing about our beloved Bulldogs: We play far better as an underdog than we ever did as the favorites.