GRIZ GRIT: The Difficulty of Ranking 25 Teams

By Beacon Staff

The Football Championship Subdivision Top 25 poll compiled by the Sports Network has a problem.

It is getting increasingly difficult to find teams in the bottom 10 spots of the weekly poll that have impressive records.

In fact, in a recent poll, seven of the lowest spots were occupied by teams that either had a losing record or were playing .500 football.

I’ve been one of the approximately 140 print and broadcast sports journalists and sports information directors to vote in the Sports Network/Fathead.com poll over the last few years.

Some of the former Division 1-AA teams have moved out of the division and the top of the list is dominated by teams in three leagues (Southern, Colonial and Big Sky). Often on Sundays, I am scrambling to either locate an unfamiliar team with a good record that deserves votes or support a team that has dropped a game they shouldn’t have and fallen close to even on the win-loss scale.

Does a team really deserve to be noted on a national scale if they have a 4-4 record? Why don’t we go back to just listing the top 20?

And then there’s the way we journalists throw around the description of parity in a league.

Now, sometimes that is accurate: the top three or four teams beat up on each other so no one team dominates the league or has a stellar record and the bottom of the league, when playing at home, is just as tough as the league leaders.

It could mean league teams are playing tougher competition, which makes them better during the league season from experience against better players. But parity could also mean that there is no unbeaten or dominant team because the entire league is playing at a substandard level.

Now there is no argument here that there are a couple of teams that have been Big Sky Conference doormats. You know which teams they are and how long it has been since they played other than an occasional spoiler role in the league race even after numerous coaching changes and an announced renewed focus on producing excellence.

Sergio, my cab driver in Portland last weekend, suggested an answer to that and then, ironically, I recently saw it mentioned in a national publication.

He said if you deserve to compete at the next level because of your success, then your team moves up. And if you can’t compete at your current level, the following season you move down, much like international soccer.

It sounds like a scheduling nightmare but it is an interesting concept, isn’t it?