Column: Rankings are stupid

Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) reacts after his touchdown against North Carolina State during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Raleigh, N.C., Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015. The Tigers were ranked #1 in the first NCAA Playoff Rankings (AP)

Rankings confuse me. But I love them. I can’t wait for them to come out each week.

There were three different rankings that came out this week that really just confused the hell out of me. Let’s break them down.

NFL Week 9 power rankings

Is there even a definition for power rankings? I’m not sure there is. If there is, it isn’t consistent. My definition of power rankings is this: a set of rankings that ranks teams in how they are playing up to that point in the season.

There are four undefeated teams left: the New England Patriots, Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers. So those should be the top-four teams, right? Wrong. ESPN stills ranks the Packers (6-1), who just got dismantled by the Broncos Sunday night, ahead of the Panthers.  

This just doesn’t make sense. Yes, I would rather play the Panthers in the playoffs than Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, but if we are ranking how teams perform up to this point in the season, the Panthers have to be ahead of the Packers.

I think there has to be a clear definition of ‘power rankings’ and I’m not sure there is right now. Do the people who make these rankings project into the future? Do they base it off who each team has played? Or maybe the talent each team has?

Seattle was ranked No .1 in the preseason rankings and they have underperformed this season, going 4-4, and they are still in the Top 10 this week.

College Football Playoff rankings

Tuesday night, the first College Football Playoff rankings came out and there is already controversy surrounding the teams the committee put in the top four.

Clemson (8-0) took the No. 1 spot, LSU grabbed the No. 2 spot, defending champions Ohio State was ranked No. 3. The biggest surprise was Alabama (7-1) sneaking in at the No. 4 spot.

There are seven undefeated teams that Alabama was ranked over. Do wins matter for anything anymore? Granted Alabama has played a difficult schedule, you can’t take away those wins from the other seven teams, no matter who they’ve been against.

Baylor, who just lost their starting quarterback Seth Russell for the season, and TCU, have been destroying their opponents this season and they were both left out. The committee is not supposed to project ahead, so I don’t understand how Baylor, who is ranked No. 2 in the AP poll, is not in the top four.

Again, the College Football Playoff isn’t officially decided until the end of the season, so what is the point of doing these rankings each week? Just wait until the season is done and records are finalized. That way you can look at each team’s resume in full and make a decision from there - doing rankings from now on is pretty much pointless.

AP Top 25 poll

The first Associated Press men’s college basketball poll came out on Monday, with North Carolina earning the No. 1 spot. Kentucky was No. 2 and Maryland was No. 3.

UConn is ranked No. 20.

But think of this: UConn was ranked No. 17 in last year’s preseason poll, but they failed to make the NCAA tournament. In 2011, UConn wasn’t even ranked in the preseason poll, and they won the national championship.

A new poll comes out every week based on the performances of each team that week.

I hate to say it but ESPN seemed to be right ranking Kobe Bryant the 93rd player in the NBA the way he’s started out these first four games - sorry, Kobe.

But I love it (shout out to the Weeknd)

I am big on predictions and projections. I do them every week - and every week, I wait patiently for the new polls to come out. I can’t explain why I do it.

Rankings are a validation of your team’s performance. The better you do, the higher you climb in the rankings. They give meaning to matchups – woah, check out this top 10 matchup this weekend!  They can also put a target on your back - everyone wants to beat the No. 1 team in the country.  

I love predicting who will be the new team or which teams will be in the College Football Playoff top four.

But in the end, it’s how teams finish the season that really matters.


Matthew Zampini is sports editor for The Daily Campus, and also covers UConn football. He can be reached via email at matthew.zampini@uconn.edu. He tweets @matt_zamp.