The Ranking a Banned Program Debate… No Post-Season Means No Ranking

Read the opposing argument from Bleacher Fan.

Perhaps lost amongst the shuffle of all the other action in college football last weekend was the fact that Washington head football coach Steve Sarkisian knocked off Southern Cal for the second consecutive season. It was an intense battle between Sarkisian and USC head coach Lane Kiffin, two former Trojan assistants. The Trojans came into the game ranked 18th in the Associated Press poll (they are ineligible in the coaches poll). After the loss Saturday night to the Huskies they are no longer ranked. But Babe Ruthless challenged The Sports Debates I to argue about whether or not USC’s current ban from post-season play should also ban a team from being ranked in the AP poll (regardless of how the team has done so far this season and how well the team does the rest of the season). Common sense tells me – and should tell you – yes, a ban should also include a ban from the rankings.

The ultimate goal of college football teams is to play a thirteenth game. Depending on the expectations of a team there are varying degrees of success that come into play. Teams like Duke or Vanderbilt are thrilled to get six wins and become bowl eligible. If a program is 6-6 at a school with national title expectations, just getting to bowl eligibility is unacceptable. Unfortunately for the Trojans and their fans, USC can go 11-1 and not become “bowl eligible.” So why even be ranked? What is the point?

Some may say that in the grand scheme of things, rankings really don’t mean anything, especially after being eliminated from BCS consideration (USC was eliminated from consideration four months ago). But they really do. Rankings get a program exposure. Rankings get a program, coach, and group of players games on television (except Notre Dame, which gets television exposure regardless.) Rankings ensure a team is mentioned on the scrolling scores on sports channels. Rankings generate buzz surrounding a program, and I fully believe rankings play a factor when bowl committees are deciding which teams to invite to their bowls after the season.

All of those reasons are enough to exclude USC from any type of weekly ranking. But what about the 26th ranked team? You know, that team in the “receiving votes category.” That team is going to be eligible to play in a bowl game, assuming it gets the necessary six wins. It should be allowed to promote its ranking as a reward. Southern Cal has not earned that right. It’s no fault of the 2010 team, but there is still no reason to reward it. It’s just part of the university’s punishment for past indiscretions.

The only football game Southern Cal quarterback Matt Barkley and his teammates will be playing in December and January will be on NCAA 2011, probably on Playstation 3 (Editor’s Note: Something Barkley and his teammates likely saved up for and purchased with money from a summer job). That’s all the more reason that USC has no business being under consideration for the AP poll the rest of the season.

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