Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Do August Injuries Affect Preseason Top 25?

So given the injuries in the past week to USC QB Mark Sanchez and Georgia LT Trinton Sturdivant, it begs an interesting question:

If you create your Top 25 rankings based on who the best team is right now -- not who will be No. 1 at the end of the season -- do the coaches and media have to adjust their rankings to account for these injuries, even before a game is played?

Is USC really a Top 3 team without Sanchez? Probably not. Is Georgia the No. 1 team without a key O-lineman? Arguably not. How about Florida without an NFL-caliber TE? Potentially.

The fact is: Georgia is not the same team without Sturdivant; USC is not the same team without Sanchez. Even without knowing the severity of their injuries (but presuming they miss at least the first week of the season, as is presumed with Sanchez), you have to change your preseason poll.

It certainly highlights how ludicrous the preseason poll is. (I personally make my preseason poll based on how I think they'll end the season, then adjust it after the first week based on on-field performance.)

But it is intellectually bankrupt (a not-uncommon quality among the AP, Coaches and Harris pollsters) not to re-do their preseason poll. We don't know how the teams will perform on the field, but we know how important the injured players are.

If we're ranking based on what we know -- rather than what we project for the end of the season -- I think that Ohio State vaults both Georgia and USC as the No. 1 team in the country. Until we actually start seeing some games on the field -- or they suffer their own major preseason injury.

-- D.S.

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