Jason Whitlock should not be allowed to vote in the Associated Press college football poll. Recently on ESPN.com, Whitlock released his voting, providing explanation of his reasoning. That said, his number one team to begin the year is West Virginia. Okay, before Mountaineer fans get all over me, let me say that I do not consider picking West Virginia as the number one to be wholly unreasonable. But Whitlock emphasizes that his choice is based upon the weak schedule West Virginia will face in 2006. There's where the boneheadedness comes in, friends.
In case it isn't obvious why, allow me to explain. Year after year, there are complaints that Team X or Team Y's record is inflated by a weak schedule. With the way scheduling works in NCAA football, this is inevitable. Now you have a guy like Whitlock actually rewarding such a school for having a weak schedule. In essence, this becomes a double whammy. Not only does the school, in this case West Virginia, get the opportunity to inflate its record on cream puffs, but now they have writers inflating their ranking based on the prediction that it will inflate its record on cream puffs.
Polls are supposed to rate the relative strength of schools going into the season, not how the writer expects them to finish. These polls exist because there is no way each of these schools can play one another to determine objective strength. Voting based on how one believes a team will finish at season's end defeats the purpose of having a poll in the first place.