Monday, August 21, 2006

BlogPoll Roundtable #1

You know the deal: every week, BlogPoll voters all answer some opinions about the doings and goings-ons and what have you in college football. And since I have somehow fooled the powers that be into thinking I somehow know what I'm talking about, I suppose I should participate in these shenanigans. Let's get started.

1. What's the biggest ripoff in this preseason poll? Either pick a team that's offensively over or underrated, or you can rag on a particular voter's bad pick (hey, we're all adults here, we can handle it).

The poll doesn’t look too bad to me. There are question marks everywhere, so it’s tough to say that one team’s way overrated or underrated. You could put together a top 25 by drawing the top dozen or so teams out of a hat and be able to defend your rankings.

That said, I think Virginia Tech’s a little high in the poll, but it’s not too bad. I think Michigan State should be ranked, but given their track record of collapses, it’s tough to argue it too hard. I’m not sure about the Big East teams, West Virginia and Louisville, being ranked that high. I don’t know if they have the talent to hang with those teams ranked around them. They might, but we’ll have a tough time knowing for sure, given that about their only real competition is each other.

2. What should a preseason poll measure? Specifically, should it be a predictor of end-of-season standing (meaning that a team's schedule should be taken into account when determining a ranking), or should it merely be a barometer of talent/hype/expectations?

I think that a preseason poll should be a ranking of the top teams based on talent, coaching, etc., with no regard for the schedule. The schedule gets factored in throughout the season, I think. For example, if you think a team is, say 5th best talent-wise, but you rank them 10th because you expect them to lose to some juggernaut in Week 4, what do you do with them when they lose? They’ve just met your expectations, so why should you drop them in the rankings? Yet that is what just about everyone will do. So, the preseason poll should be used, as the BlogPoll is intended, to rank teams based on who you think would perform the best if all the teams played each other on a neutral field. Then the season can be used to adjust the rankings based on how teams exceed expectations, or fail to meet them.

3. What is your biggest stretch in your preseason ballot? That is to say, which team has the best chance of making you look like an idiot for overrating them?

Well, of course, my Buckeyes (as well as yours), could certainly lose three or four games this season, and just about everyone who filled out a ballot would look pretty stupid for having them that high. But then, so could just about everyone else in the top 25. As you know, there are a lot of question marks headed into this season.

The teams that worry me the most in my rankings are Michigan and Michigan State, though. Every year, Michigan is in the preseason top ten, and every year, they lose three games. The only reason to believe this team is better than last year’s is that the new coordinators might make a difference. I think they will, but another five loss season isn’t out of the question.

Michigan State is, of course, still Michigan State, and they’re still coached by John L. Smith. Those two things alone are generally worth at least four losses. Why do I expect them to do better? I’m honestly not sure.

4. What do you see as the biggest flaw in the polling system (both wire service and blogpolling)? Is polling an integral part of the great game of college football, or is it an outdated system that needs to be replaced? If you say the latter, enlighten us with your new plan.

As others have mentioned, the biggest flaw in all polls is the difference in methods used to rank teams. Is it a matter of ranking them by most likely to go undefeated? By quality of team? By prettiness of school colors? Alphabetically? Whatever method is used by a poll, it needs to be clearly defined for both the people doing the ranking and the public in general.

5. You're Scott Bakula, and you have the opportunity to "Quantum Leap" back in time and change any single moment in your team's history. It can be a play on the field, a hiring decision, or your school's founders deciding to build the campus in Northern Indiana, of all godforsaken places. What do you do?

This one's easy: I head back to the 1978 Gator Bowl and stop Woody Hayes from punching Charlie Bauman. I wouldn't change the outcome of the game, as a victory might convince him to keep coaching longer, and Woody was already hanging on too long by then. But the man is one of the greatest coaches of all time, a guy who had a positive impact on hundreds, if not thousands, of lives, and what he's remembered most for is punching a player. So I'd come up with something to calm him down, avoid the whole incident, and let Woody end his career on his own terms.


Jack Fu said...

Your answer to the Scott Bakula portion is interesting. Many people I know would try to get John Cooper to use Joe Montgomery or John Lumpkin like he did the rest of the freaking drive instead of throwing four consecutive fades at the end of the '98 Michigan State game. But that begs a much more interesting question: if Cooper wins that game, do you think we win the '02 title? Or do we get mired in Cooperdom for a longer stretch, plagued by Ken-Yon Rambos and Reggie Germanys for much longer than we were, and without the success Tressel has brought?

Much as it pains me to say it, I don't think I would change that '98 game. The result led to too many positive things (although the negative of the short term were EXTRAORDINARILY painful).

Sean said...

Certainly there are a variety of things you could change about the Cooper years. Multiple Michigan State games, even more Michigan games, and more than a few bowls. However, I don't know that there was really one moment that could have changed the course of the Cooper era. Specifically, to answer your question, I don't think winning the '98 MSU game would change anything. Cooper had to screw up at least once every year; it was in his genes. A win against MSU would have meant a loss against Michigan or in a bowl game, and he'd still get fired right on schedule. If, somehow, he had managed a national title in 1998, it definitely would have bought him some more time, and changed the course of history as we know it. I just don't see him ever putting it all together.

Plus, I get sick of people acting like Woody's career consists of punching people and breaking stuff. So I'm sticking with the change I suggested.