Archived Story

Preseason polls shouldn’t be trusted

Published 4:07pm Monday, August 29, 2011

College football season is upon us once again, and once again, some people are taking it too seriously.

Last week, The Montgomery Advertiser published a story detailing one attorney’s concerns over the date U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson selected to start the second corruption trial of VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor.

Bill Baxley, a defense attorney for lobbyist Tom Coker, said in the story that the new date, Jan. 9, is the day of the BCS national championship game in college football.

“Hope springs eternal,” said Baxley about hopes that his alma mater, the University of Alabama, could be playing in the game.

The story says Thompson told Baxley that, unfortunately for those who are worried about the trial conflict-ing with the championship game, he is not a graduate of Alabama or Auburn. He said it might be different if his alma mater, Yale, was expected to play in the game.

If you ask me, it doesn’t matter who is “expected” to play in the game. The season hasn’t even started yet.

Yes, I know the Crimson Tide is ranked No. 2 in the USA Today coaches’ preseason poll and the Associated Press preseason poll. But I also know the preseason polls are more for fun – and stirring up the fans – than anything else.

Historically, the polls at the end of the college football season have looked very differently than the preseason polls. And why? Because college football is one of the most unpredictable sports around. Each season is full of surprise, underdog wins and shocking, bitter defeats.

Just look at last year. Alabama topped both of the major preseason polls. Ohio State came in second in both.

And where did they wind up? Sixteenth and sixth, respectively.

Regardless of the preseason predictions, it’s pretty ridiculous in any circumstance to request a date change for a major trial based on the assumption / hope that your team will be in a championship game for any sport.

Hope may spring eternal, but facts are facts and it’s a long shot for every team, even Alabama.

Coincidentally, The Birmingham News published a similar story last year detailing one lawyer’s request to postpone a Jan. 10 trial so she could cheer on Auburn at the national championship game in Glendale. This request differed in that it was made in December and Auburn was already locked in to play Oregon at the end of their winning season.

I’m not saying Alabama won’t be good this year. They probably will be. And they may even make it to the national championship game in New Orleans Jan. 9.

I’m just saying it’s a little too early to ask off of work.

Natalie Nettles is a staff writer for The Outlook.