Every Sunday morning pollsters across the nation sit down to play their favorite weekly game -- Candyland: College Football Edition.
But there are no colorful pieces on the board or images of jolly ice cream characters waiting around the winding curve to the finish. Instead, many of the pieces and spaces within the game these voters play are rather gray -- lacking any true definition or direction much like the polls themselves.
The very concept of college football polls goes against the spirit of the game itself: A championship settled by an on-field competition that is set up by human selections off of it. The polling system is definitely flawed, and the fact that it accounts for a large portion of what constitutes a national championship appearance (at least in the current BCS form) provides coaches, players, and fans an illogical system that can't be fixed in its current state. It's often been said, "You can't make chicken soup out of..." -- and you know the rest.
Certainly voters don't have the greatest setup in which to operate regarding their heavy influence on where teams end up when postseason play comes around. But are voters taking something inaccurate and making it even worse? Using polls to determine matchups certainly is flawed, but voters may actually be exacerbating the problem.
THE BOARD GAME APPROACH
One of the biggest flaws I see with the methods of voters of college football polls is that of the chain-reaction approach to voting. Or as I like to think of it, the "Board Game" approach. Much the way that each movement on a board game is tied to the previous one, voters in college football polls place teams in current polls in relationship to the previous week's placement.
If numbers eight through twelve win their games and number seven loses, then each of those members moves up a slot like a neat little college football train. This becomes even more problematic when incorporating preseason polls. Teams are moved up and down the sliding scale in comparison to last week's ranking; assuming that last week's (and each preceding) ranking was correct. This system relies too heavily on getting the very first poll correct -- the preseason -- which happens to be the most inaccurate of all polls throughout the year.
While this may make things easier or more convenient for voters, they're missing the whole picture -- or holistic picture.
BUILDING A RESUMÉ
Instead of the knee-jerk reactionary method that pollsters currently use they should be evaluating each team based on the entire season to this point. That means assessing talent, expectations, and performance regardless of wins and losses.
One question I've yet to see an answer to is that of "who" plays for the national championship. I don't mean what team, but -- by definition -- describe the teams in the championship. Are they the two best teams over the course of the year? Or am I witnessing the two toughest teams at the end of the season?
If the reactionary method of voting has anything to say about it, it's the latter.
THE CONTRADICTORY LOGIC PROBLEM
If the #24 team in the nation loses to the #20 team in the land, wasn't that supposed to happen?
So in the event this scenario plays out, the twentieth ranked squad in the country should stay put along with their counterpart, correct? After all, each played to the expectations laid out by the voters. But that's not the way it works at all.
The following week, #20 will have the potential to move up into the teens while #24 will drop from the rankings. This makes no sense for another reason as well. The voters are contradicting their very validity. If they move up #20 or drop #24 after the higher ranked team wins, it's as if they've announced to the world that their previous rankings were off. So what makes the freshest "Board Game" reaction of the week any more valid?
TIME IS NOT OF THE ESSENCE
The final, and perhaps most influential, aspect of the flaw within the methods of voters is that of a lack of time. Time to evaluate teams beyond a boxscore or a Sportscenter highlight -- these voters are human beings with jobs and families. They're spending time and thought doing things that matter the most; planning family outings and working hard on the next project at work.
A PLAYOFF MANAGED BY OLD MEN
Thankfully we finally get our four-team playoff system in a couple years but polls will likely still have an influence whether directly or indirectly. And as long as humans off of the field are determining who gets to be the best on the gridiron, flaws will exist and college football will always be a blood-filled and violent episodic Candyland adventure.
Sound Off: What do you feel are the major problems associated with college football polls, or is there a problem at all?
Justin Mikels is a staff writer for Operation Sports. Follow him on Twitter: long_snapper