Lee Corso hasn't even applied a plastic mascot mask to his overworked head and already the 2010 college football season is off to its goofiest start in years.

It's as if the entire BCS system is operating out of Steve Carell's "The Office."

Which might make more sense in as much as he has two hit movies out that lots of people are seeing and college football is headed for a national championship game featuring two teams few folks want to watch.

Take the just-released USA Today coaches' poll.


Take it to the nearest dump and recycle responsibly.

This top 25, in which defending national champ Alabama is a near-unanimous No. 1, isn't just any poll. It counts for one-third of the BCS formula.

It is hard to climb the poll if unranked in the preseason. Conversely, a lofty starting spot is so advantageous you wonder if offseason "gifts" are not secretly exchanged between voting coaches and those wanting votes.

Like pill commercials featuring middle-aged couples getting into bathtubs, a preseason poll that actually influences a football season has always been a bad idea. We don't do this in the NFL, middle school student council elections, college baseball or even South Carolina politics.

You know where we're headed, don't you?

Boise State vs. Texas Christian in the BCS National Championship Game next January in scenic Glendale, Ariz.

The Broncos are No. 5, the Horned Frogs No. 7 and the future Mountain West Conference lodge brothers are more likely to get through the regular season undefeated than any of the other teams in the top 10.

Gamecocks suffer

So, to summarize what has happened since Alabama pummeled Texas in the last BCS National Championship Game:

--The people who run college football have severely limited wedge blocking and players no longer can wear eye black with personal messages -- you know, like "Hi, mom!" and Bible verses.

--This foolish poll still exists.

It is one thing for a thoughtful journalist (see photo above) to predict records for, say, teams in the Palmetto State. But to have those records impact bowl invitations? To have coaches barely interested in anything not having to do with their own teams vote on anything?

But what exactly is the USA Today coaches' poll, anyway?

A reward for the progress of last season?

If so, why is Virginia Tech the top-ranked Atlantic Coast Conference team, at No. 6 no less?

I checked.

The Hokies did not win the ACC title last season.

Didn't win the ACC Coastal Division, either.

And how does Clemson get more votes than South Carolina when the Gamecocks scored twice as many points as the Tigers in a very recent regular season finale?

Don't blame Kiffin

Or is this hopeless (but important) poll a prediction?

If so, who voted for Mississippi State?

This is one college football mess you can't blame on Lane Kiffin; Southern California isn't eligible for the poll, but I predict a Kiffin-coached team gets fewer votes among his fellow coaches than he deserves when the Trojans emerge from the doghouse.

It is so easy to predict TCU might run the table if it can leap frog (pun intended) Oregon State in the opener. The schedule gauntlet includes a stretch of Tennessee Tech, Baylor, SMU, Colorado State and Wyoming.

I appreciate what Boise State has done with its football program as much as the next objective guy. Boise itself is a beautiful, friendly town and I enjoyed smacking Upstate radio personality Dan Scott in the backside with a snowball the day before Clemson played Louisiana Tech on the blue field at the Humanitarian Bowl.

But if the Broncos get to Glendale, Ariz., going 2-0 against real teams (Virginia Tech and Oregon State) and 10-0 against pastry, this poll is largely to blame and Steve Carell should pick the preseason top 25 next year.

Reach Gene Sapakoff at gsapakoff@postandcourier.com or (843) 937-5593.