Monday, October 22, 2007

Monday Poll Bashin'/Almost back to normal

The craziness keeps on coming. Four more top-ten teams lost this week. Things have been so whacky that the polls are slowly starting to resemble the pre-season polls with LSU, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, USC, and Florida all back in the top ten. It’s almost like nothing happened other than Michigan, Texas, and Louisville not living up to expectations; and even Michigan is slowly working its way back to the top ten. The rest of the polls are just a big mess with a bevy of teams ranked higher than they should be including Hawaii and Texas. There are also a few instances of teams being ranked behind teams they beat with a similar resume. However, this becomes increasingly less annoying as the season moves along. My biggest criticism for this comes early in the season when we don’t have too many games to refer to. Plus, with so many teams playing each other, it’s impossible to keep everything straight. For instance, Kentucky beat LSU who beat S. Carolina who beat Kentucky. Also, the location plays a tremendous part in the outcome of a game. For instance, it’s not fair to punish Kentucky for having to play at S. Carolina. Good teams are supposed to win at home and that’s what S. Carolina did. Had the roles been reversed, Kentucky may very well have won. You probably won’t see too many vehement complaints from here on out about this sort of thing. I’ll continue to mention it when I would rank teams differently. With each passing week, the picture becomes murkier. Differences become less obvious. By the end of the season, you can make just about any argument you want to make. But, there are still things that just shouldn’t be in the polls.

Before I get into the polls, here are five things on my mind…

1). I’m not sure what it is exactly but—with each passing year—I become less and less of a fan of Kirk Herbstreit. He used to be my favorite college football personality. Now, he’s saying things like, “the BCS system is great for college football” and “a playoff is not the answer.” He never fails to suggest that if anything needs to be tweaked to the current system, it’s the addition of a Plus-1 game. I’m not sure if Herbstreit realizes that a Plus-1 game creates a four-team playoff. That faux pas aside, Herbstreit’s contention that the regular season is a playoff is questionable at best. First, in a crazy year like the one we’re seeing right now, the regular season will have sorted out nothing. Nobody knows who the best teams are now, and nobody will know four weeks from now. Yet, two teams will be arbitrarily put into a Championship game based on uncertainty. There will be a number of one-loss teams left out of the Championship. How is that a fair system? People like Herbstreit—for whatever reasons—fail to realize that an eight or sixteen team playoff would create just as much excitement in the “regular season” as teams vie for those coveted playoff spots. Nobody is ever guaranteed of anything in college football. Just look at Cal. Two weeks ago, the Bears were ranked #2. Now, they’re #18. No matter what sort of Championship you have, the fact that teams only play 12 games a year will guarantee that each regular season game crucial is crucial. If Herbstreit insists on ignoring the unparalled excitement that an 8 or a 16-team playoff would create, then he can at least stop saying a playoff is not the answer when he repeatedly suggests that a Plus-1—or a four team playoff—is the answer.

2). What was up with the way Tommy Tuberville managed the clock when LSU was bleeding it for the game-winning score? Auburn had two timeouts left with more than 35 seconds left. LSU was in field goal range. Those timeouts would have forced LSU to kick the field goal with enough time remaining for Auburn to possibly get into field goal range. Instead, Tuberville decided to take his chances with a 40-yard field-goal attempt. That’s just terrible clock management. Had Tuberville taken those timeouts, there is very little chance that LSU would have taken a shot in the end zone like it did to end the game.

3). I don’t have anything against the Heisman Trophy itself but I hate the process. Andre Ware broke down his Heisman candidates before the Kentucky/Florida game and had Andre Woodson and Tim Tebow near the top. He commented that the loser of that game would drop out of the running. So, 415 yards and 5 TD passes doesn’t do anything for you? If this sort of thinking was just confined to Andre Ware’s head, then I wouldn’t have a problem with it. But, it’s not. Most voters think this way. I won’t even get into the fact that a defensive player can’t win the award more than once ever.

4). I think Navy is the quasi-mid-point of all college football teams. If Navy beats you, then you’re bad. If you beat Navy then you’re good. Consider that since 2003, the combined record of the teams Navy has beaten is 107-284 for a dreadful winning percentage of .273. Navy’s four wins over I-AA opponents weren’t even included in that total. Conversely, the combined winning percentage of the teams Navy has lost to is 120-73 for a winning percentage of .621. So, if you want to know if you have a good team or a bad team, schedule Navy.

5). The Big Ten has taken a lot of flack this season for being mediocre. I can’t say that the criticism is undeserved. Ohio St. is the only elite team in the conference. There is still only one team ranked from the Big Ten in the top 20. However, be prepared to see nine Big Ten teams in bowl games. The conference already has six teams that are bowl eligible and three more with five wins. Northwestern would already be bowl eligible if it just would have beaten Duke.

Here are the remaining schedules for the three teams that need one win for bowl eligibility:

Michigan St.

@ Iowa
@ Purdue
Penn St.


@ Wisconsin
Ball St.
@ Northwestern


@ Purdue
@ Illinois

Anyhow, on to the complaints…

Kentucky over S. Carolina

I’m not too agitated about this. Kentucky beat LSU. S. Carolina didn’t. Although, Kentucky got to play LSU at home and S. Carolina didn’t. Kentucky lost to two really good teams. S. Carolina lost to one really good team and one average team. S. Carolina beat Kentucky which should be the tiebreaker. I realize that S. Carolina got to play the game at home but after the game, I was convinced that S. Carolina was the better team. Different teams respond to road environments differently so maybe Kentucky just never got it together because of the hostile Columbia-environment. However, I would rank S. Carolina ahead of Kentucky because it looked like the better team by a decent margin. The USA Today had the same result.

The “lose at LSU and drop” theorem

I hate dropping teams for any loss no matter how impressive. Losses can be impressive. Auburn led LSU for the majority of its game losing with: 01 left on the clock. If LSU is the #3 team in the country, then Auburn has no business dropping. A five-spot plunge isn’t the end of the world. Also, Auburn is the only team in the polls with three losses. I just think the pollsters need to be able to look beyond the records. Auburn dropping becomes even more ridiculous since it will undoubtedly climb in the polls after beating Ole Miss and Tennessee Tech in the next two weeks. The USA Today did the same thing.


Hawaii climbed one-spot in the AP poll to #16. Brent Musberger says some dumb things but one of the dumbest came during the Michigan/Illinois telecast on Saturday. He defended Hawaii’s atrocious resume by saying “a win is a win.” He also said that as long as Hawaii keeps winning, it should get to play in a BCS game despite playing possibly the easiest schedule in the history of modern-day college football. Any average BCS school like Purdue, Maryland, or Oklahoma St. would go undefeated with Hawaii’s schedule. The USA Today poll has Hawaii inexplicably ranked at #14. I would expect every top-25 team to beat Hawaii.

Va. Tech at #8

Va. Tech has played one team that is ranked right now and it lost by 41. How is that worthy of the #8 ranking? And it’s not just that Va. Tech hasn’t been playing ranked teams. They have been playing awful teams. The Hokies claim the following wins; E. Carolina, Ohio, William & Mary, UNC, Duke, and Clemson. Obviously, Clemson is not a bad win but the rest are atrocious. There is no reason for Va. Tech to be ranked ahead of Florida and USC among others. The USA Today has Va. Tech at #9.

S. Florida dropping nine spots

Dropping S. Florida nine spots for losing by three points, on the road, against a top-25 team is ridiculous. Nobody wanted S. Florida ranked that high to begin with. This loss just gave every pollster an excuse to jettison them out of the top-ten. USC only dropped eights spots after losing to a 41-point underdog at home. The USA Today dropped S. Florida nine spots as well.

S. Florida over West Virginia

This is a duplicate of the Kentucky/S. Carolina situation. I don’t think it’s idiotic to rank WVU ahead of S. Florida. S. Florida had the advantage of playing the game at home. However, S. Florida was leading 21-3 in the 3rd quarter and 21-6 late in the game. It was never in danger of losing. It was an ugly game with 10 total turnovers. Neither team played great but that is how S. Florida plays. I left that game thinking that S. Florida was the better team. Plus, S. Florida just won at West Virginia at the end of last season. This win wasn’t a fluke. S. Florida should still be ranked ahead of West Virginia at this point. The USA Today again has the same thing.


There is no doubt in my mind that Virginia is not a top-25 team. I have been agitated at the fact that both polls have ranked Virginia for the last couple weeks. However, I think I have been looking at this all wrong. I actually think the polls have shown some restraint in keeping Virginia out of the top 20 despite its 7-1 record. The polls usually fall for the teams with the inflated records (i.e. Hawaii). So, I guess this is more of a compliment than a criticism. Nevertheless, Virginia deserves to be ranked as much as Hawaii does.

Texas over Cal (among others)

Texas has no business being ranked ahead of Cal. Texas hasn’t beaten a ranked team and its five wins are over teams with a combined record of 16-29. They boast wins over the following powerhouses; Arkansas St., TCU, UCF, Rice, Iowa St., and Baylor. Cal, on the other hand has beaten # 5 Oregon and a Tennessee team that is much better than any team Texas has beaten. There is a boatload of teams that Texas shouldn’t be ranked ahead of but Cal seems the most obvious.

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