AS IF THERE was any doubt before, this week's football polls leave little room for argument that when it comes to accurate, fair, precise ratings, don't look to them. They don't qualify. The polls are about as aware of what's going on as Marie Antoinette.
I am not talking specifically about Michigan still being in the top 15 after three losses.Or about a fine San Jose State team, at 8-2-1, being shunned almost completely.
Or about Notre Dame losing to Penn State and still being ranked ahead of the Nittany Lions even though both have 8-2 records.
Or about Oregon, with an 8-3 record, being in poll purgatory because its quarterback got injured in a loss to Cal.
Or even about Georgia Tech being a mere No. 4 after, first, beating the top-ranked Virginia Cavaliers, and, second, managing the only undefeated record in the country.
I am talking specifically about how it is that Miami can be ranked ahead of Brigham Young.
In the latest AP, UPI, and USA Today polls, Miami is unilaterally ranked ahead of BYU. In the AP poll, Miami is second and BYU fourth. In the UPI poll, Miami is second and BYU fourth, and in the USA Today poll, Miami is second and BYU third.
The reason why this is difficult to understand is because back on Sept. 8, in Provo, Miami and BYU played and BYU won, 28-21.
BYU has lost one game since then, at Oregon, and Miami has lost one game since then, at Notre Dame. The Cougars are 9-1 with two games to play in the regular season and the Hurricanes are 7-2 with two games to play in the regular season. Both are expected to finish out the slate without another loss. They should cruise into the bowl season in the same poll lock-step they're in now.
If they should both happen to win their bowl games - BYU in the Holiday Bowl against, in all likelihood, Texas A&M and Miami in the Cotton Bowl against, in all likelihood, Texas - there's no question the voters will keep them neck-and-neck into the final poll. Miami, then BYU.
And if the current No. 1 team, Colorado, should happen to lose its bowl game - in the Orange Bowl against Notre Dame - then it could very well be Miami first, BYU second.
BYU Coach LaVell Edwards wouldn't be at all surprised if that happens.
"It's not out of the realm of possibility that Miami will be this year's national champion," he said Monday after the latest polls were released. "If Notre Dame beats Colorado it will probably happen, because I think Miami will beat Texas. They (the Hurricanes) would be the first team in quite a while to do it with two losses."
Including the one to BYU.
"It is frustrating," said Edwards. "But I'm not losing any sleep over it."
The BYU coach has traditionally stayed away from poll controversies. In 1984, when his Cougars were voted No. 1 in spite of what many considered a weak schedule, he didn't get into any arguments. He isn't getting into any arguments now, either.
Neither is Edwards changing his position in opposition to a national championship tournament that would put an end to the often skewed subjectivity of the polls and the equally skewed subjectivity of bowl game selections.
"No change of mind there at all," said the coach. "But I agree. It has been a screwy year."
To add to the screwiness, Miami's football coach, Craig Erickson, thinks that there SHOULD be a national championship tournament.
"If ever there's been an argument for it," he said in Monday's edition of USA Today, "this is the year. It's such a goofy season. There are so many good teams in the country. I don't know that there's going to be any fairness."
For starters on that subject, Miami certainly isn't going to refuse to be ranked ahead of BYU.
"The thing is," said Miami associate athletic director Larry Wahl, "people seem to vote week to week, not in a vacuum. We were No. 8 in the polls on Oct. 30. Since that time, all seven teams ahead of us have lost. Colorado was No. 9 and jumped ahead of us when they beat Nebraska. Otherwise, we've passed all the other seven. Somehow, we got ahead of Brigham Young and we've stayed there. Even though they beat us. To tell you the truth, I've wondered why myself. I've wondered why there hasn't been more fallout about that."
In the meantime, everytime it reads the rankings, BYU has to look up to a team it beat. Figuring out how to beat the Hurricanes turned out to be a lot easier than figuring out how to beat the polls.