I am seeing so much outrage from Kentucky fans upon release of the AP and Coaches Rankings Sunday and it completely baffles me. First of all, what a waste of energy. The rankings mean NOTHING unless you are getting into the Top 10 and in the college football playoff hunt. So whether you are 12th or 20th or 39th (like Kentucky), it doesn’t really matter.
But what is most baffling to me is the absolute ignoring of the fact that college football rankings, and the “unofficial” formula that comprises them have been the same FOR DECADES. Maybe because Kentucky has so rarely been near the rankings makes us less educated on the matter but let’s do some really quick recap about these rankings so we can stop wasting time on them and spend all our time enjoying our team:
College Football Rankings Like Upsets and Blowouts
Kentucky has the blowout but it was against Louisiana-Monroe. Nobody cares if you beat a Group of 5 or FCS team by 150 points. It doesn’t matter. It likely wasn’t televised nationally and even if it was it probably wasn’t watched by many and is expected of you. So that win carried no weight. And Kentucky has not upset anybody. They’ve been favored in both games so far. Now, they had a chance to deliver a significant blowout of Missouri on Saturday, just 1-yard away from a 28-7 lead and Mizzou likely quitting. But that didn’t happen and what you finished with was a 35-28 win that probably left those who didn’t watch it with no special feelings towards the Cats. Remember, that was a pretty generic Missouri team. I hope that doesn’t end up one of our best wins. The point being, we’ve really done nothing, especially if you haven’t watched the games, that would wow a voter.
Voters Look at the Previous Season
Look, I know we’re significantly better. You know we’re significantly better. You can watch all of one offensive series and see that. But at this point in the year, most people, including voters, have not watched us play. We played two, uninteresting games. So, often times voters who haven’t watched you play only have last season to go by. We went 5-6 last season and did so in terribly ugly fashion. And we lost some draft picks and had a new quarterback. All the person who reads football magazines knows is we’ve had turnover and two boring wins so far. We know better but we don’t get to vote. College football rankings, right or wrong, are sometimes a culmination of two seasons, not just the current one.
This is why Miami, and its blowout loss over Alabama and almost loss to App State, remain ranked. They went 8-3 last year. This is why North Carolina and that terrible performance they put out Week 1 are still ranked. They went to the Orange Bowl last year. Indiana is ranked ahead of us. They were AWFUL Week 1. They went 6-2 last year. I think we might be better than all 3 teams. But we are penalized, rightfully or wrongfully, with our bad season last year.
Prestige Matters in College Football Rankings
Look, Kentucky is never going to get the respect of a bunch of its SEC counterparts. College football rankings will ALWAYS take program prestige into account, sometimes as much as the current team’s situation. Kentucky won 10 games just 3 seasons ago and I GUARANTEE you that the majority of current AP voters don’t remember that. Arkansas hasn’t won 10 games in a decade and they find themselves inside the poll. Why? They pulled an upset and they have some prestige. Why does Texas always find itself in the preseason poll? Prestige. Why does Kentucky never? Lack of prestige.
College football rankings are not sane. They are not rational. But what they are is explainable. The formula has been there for decades. Unfortunately, Kentucky is lacking a couple of variables of that formula and never can get it. They are going to have to do something really special, like win the SEC East, or put together a string of 10-win seasons and not just a one-off to make this happen.
But I beg people to stop wasting your energy. If this team, which we all know is very good, handles its business, beats a Florida and/or LSU, gives Georgia all it wants, goes 9-3 or 10-2, we’ll be in the rankings. Who cares if we are not there Week 3? I want to be there Week 13.