College Football Playoff committee rankings signal the end of an era

(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

When the College Football Playoff committee releases its first rankings tonight it unofficially signals the end of an era for two historic institutions, the AP and Coaches’ polls.

By releasing the rankings now in a televised event, the committee promotes transparency, while ESPN benefits from the tremendous buzz generated around the rankings release, weeks in advance of determining the actual playoff teams.

College football fans will rejoice because only one poll will matter after tonight. The College Football Playoff rankings will be the defacto rankings cited, and of course debated, on ESPN, Fox Sports and other college football television broadcasts.

As a result, the AP poll and Amway USA TODAY Sports Coaches’ poll become diminished.

(Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports)
(Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports)

During the BCS era (from 1998 to 2014), the Coaches’ poll was one-third of the computer formula that generated the top two teams at the end of each regular season. The AP poll has been awarding a national champion since the 1930s, and has continued to do so despite having no impact in determining the BCS championship participants.

Leading up to this season, Amway became the first-ever exclusive title sponsor of the Coaches’ poll. This had a chance to be a key sports activation for Amway because it runs a series of engagements throughout the season culminating with the awarding of a trophy to the No. 1 team in the Amway Coaches’ poll. But the Amway Coaches’ trophy is an afterthought to the college football playoff championship trophy, and after tonight, the Coaches’ poll bears no relevance to the season. As a result of it essentially becoming a half-season poll, the value of that deal or any future partnership is reduced.

There still remains value for the AP and Coaches’ polls during the preseason and early months of the college football calendar. College football fans, being a highly engaged bunch, typically can’t wait until October to argue over where their team stands. The College Football Championship committee will consider the AP and Coaches’ polls into account when creating their own rankings. Still, tonight’s rankings release sets a precedent that these two historical polls become less influential after the first half of the college football season.

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