Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Poll Vaulting

So, I haven't been able to write much this week becasue - in case you didn't know - it's been raining in Atlanta. And, boy, did we get some rain! Creeks rose, rivers overflowed and my neighborhood flooded to my doorstep...

But I'm dry now and assessing the world of sports, though, I'll be trying to keep this brief.

Today, let's talk AP Poll. It's an interesting little monster that, I think, drives the popularity of college football. Have you ever wondered how it works though? It's actually pretty interesting when you consider some of the whack-jobs that get to decide on it. If you're interested in taking a second or two to look throgh some of the AP's voters' ballots, HERE is the list. I would encourage people to take a quick gander at the ballots of Mr. Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News and Mr. Doug Lesmerises of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. These are the very "whack-jobs" that I was telling you about. Or are they?

From ESPN Senior Writer Pat Forde

"What people think in August [when filling out preseason Top 25s] is at least partly based on what Phil Steele and Athlon thought in April [when their preview magazines are written]," Lesmerises said. "A multi-gazillion-dollar industry based on people putting 15 minutes into a poll that is based on a magazine that did its rankings in April is not a good system."

It should be noted that, unlike some human voters, both writers put a lot more than 15 minutes into their ballots on a weekly basis. Wilner said he works for hours on his Top 25. Lesmerises said he usually does three or four drafts before sending in the final version.

This week both Lesmerises and Wilner rank Alabama No. 1 and Miami No. 2.

Lesmerises has Houston No. 3 and Cincinnati No. 4, while Wilner goes with Texas third and LSU fourth.

You and Urban Meyer might both be wondering where a certain orange-helmeted team fits in. Both have the Gators a heretical fifth.

Lesmerises has Texas lower than any other AP voter at seventh. Among his other against-the-grain rankings: Penn State 15th, Ohio State 22nd, Mississippi 24th and USC 25th.

"I cover Ohio State," Lesmerises said. "I can't pretend to be an expert on every team in the country. Because of my ignorance of the college scene as a whole, I fall back on results."

"I'm trying to treat every team as Team X, where it doesn't matter where you were ranked in the preseason and it doesn't matter what conference you're in and it doesn't matter what your record was last year. What matters are results, results, results. But I'm not a computer, so 10 to 20 percent of my voting tends to take in my perception of how good a team is."

Wilner has Virginia Tech sixth. Houston is seventh. Oklahoma State is 11th. And Penn State is 21st.

"Every August, the AP sends out a list of voting guidelines," Wilner said. "The No. 1 guideline is to base your ballots on results. They also say, 'Don't be afraid to make radical changes week to week.' They want you to shake it up. I try to mix results and common sense."

To Wilner, Lesmerises and three other AP voters, Florida does not deserve its current ironclad place atop the rankings.

"Not when other teams have good results," said Wilner, who stresses that his rankings are not predictive but reactive. "Florida beat Tennessee, but I don't think Tennessee is that good -- unless UCLA is really good, and I don't think that's the case, either."

And both writers are amazed to find Houston ranked lower than Oklahoma State. Despite a double-digit victory in Stillwater, the 2-0 Cougars are one spot below the 2-1 Cowboys in the AP poll and seven spots lower in the coaches' poll.

Because of their willingness to vote outside the mainstream, both writers have become accustomed to scrutiny. And they welcome it. Said Lesmerises: "I have to be able to defend every single spot on my ballot."


All very intersting stuff. We'll see how things will "shake up" after this weekend.

Now for this week's edition of The Betting Man:
Last Week (2-3); Season (4-10)
-Better week but that's not really saying much. Things better turn around quick or I'm going to have to switch from ALPO to the "store brand" dog food for dinner...and NOBODY wants that! Too bad the games aren't getting any easier to pick.

#4 Ole Miss (-3) at South Carolina
-My first impression is to take South Carolina and their defense to keep things close at home. But my "first impressions" are 4-10 this season...

#9 Miami (-2.5) at #11 Virginia Tech
-Miami has been on a hot streak and normally I'd ride that hot streak into the ground. But if I'd "normally" pick Miami then I'd probably "normally" be wrong...

#15 TCU at Clemson (-2.5)
-I love almost everything that there is about TCU. It's in the south, it's a good ol' private Christian-based school in Texas and they took an otherwise useless mascot (the frog) and put some "awesome" in it...the HORNED FROGS!!! It's just too good!

#6 California (-6) at Oregon
-Stupid Oregon and it's multiple personality disorder! There is absolutely no telling WHICH team is going to show up against Cal. And there is absolutely no telling whether they will be wearing crazy uniforms or not.

Texas Tech @ #17 Houston (-1)
-The line says that this is basically a "pick the winner" game. I just can't, in my right mind, pick Houston here. Tech is going to be gunning after the loss to the Longhorns and Houston can't possible out-gun the Red Raiders...right?

1 comment:

Joe said...

SCAR (I know it's too late for that one, but I was thinking that way anyway), Miami, TCU, Cal, Houston.

Did you interview those guys?