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Monday, February 13, 2006

Respect my authorita! And my implausible cup!
Warning: Annoying tic alert. Um... apparently my "blog ethics" post caused Kyle King to dub me "The Lawgiver," which is cool because Judge Dredd is my second favorite obviously terrible Sylvester Stallone movie* and I've always wanted a flimsy pretext to scream "I AM THE LAW" at fellow bloggers, commenters, and innocent passers-by who pick up the wrong cantelope when THE LAW is shopping. This is by way of explanation for future bizarre behavior.

I just want to try it out...



(* #1 == Demolition Man.)

Fleebin' Christ, man. One thing operating the BlogPoll did was teach a valuable lesson about knocking poll voters when the end result of their poll is seemingly nonsensical: don't. Because the week after you make an impassioned plea to the voters at large about Team X and their undeniable superiority, team X goes out full of vim and vinegar and goes all French Army on you. The business of polling is an exercise in learning just how uncertain college football is. So commentary like this from CFR--most notable for contributing hilariously bad photoshop banners to the CFB blogosphere--is silly:
This was the problem I had with the well intentioned but ultimately flawed BlogPoll. It had the potential to deliver weekly outcomes that differed from the highly predictable AP poll. Instead, within a few weeks it was lock-step with the AP poll, offering little deviation.
... especially when you consider that the BlogPoll's ranking methodology was like so:
They were soon thinking like and using the same logic of AP voters, mostly slotting teams by record and perceived conference and schedule worth.
It's unfortunate that voters couldn't look past those "record" and "schedule strength" red herrings. Lord knows that we criminally underrated so many teams with flashy new wave offenses because they did things like lose by thirty. We did have an advocate of Gang-of-Six football on board in He Is... Manpundit(!), but the results of the first week were so thoroughly embarrassing that instead of submitting a saner ballot with Boise State conspiciously omitted from the top ten he stopped voting altogether.

I don't really know that this was a good year to deviate from the AP poll. Texas and USC went wire-to-wire as #1 and #2--though they flipped spots in the final poll. As you progressed further down the poll during the year you found a ton of teams that were mediocre or unpredictable week to week or both. And how, exactly, is a poll with somewhere from 35-50 voters--depending on how motivated people were week-to-week--supposed to reflect the wingnut flyer picks that are by definition against the conventional wisdom? It's not like voters all decided to put Alabama #8 in the middle of the season. A snapshot of the proceedings shows disagreement that averages out to... about #8.

For the record, I had hoped that the BlogPoll would be radically different and clearly superior to the stupid MSM StupidPoll [/childish blogger snark] and was disappointed in midseason when this turned out to be wrong. I got over it, though, because it occurred to me that the thing was working as it was because of its structure, and that any selection of a goodly number of people who paid close attention to college football (and--this is important--realized teams play defense too) would spit out an end result pretty close to the AP poll. The BlogPoll followed the structure of the aforementioned exactly: once a week list the top 25 teams in the nation, in order, even though you really have no idea whatsoever if Georgia Tech is #17 or #18. Then let the average iron out the noise.

Where the BlogPoll differed was in its philosophy--talk amongst yourselves and try to understand the POV of others--and its openness--do something dumb and yes, we will find you. This had some effect--witness Wisconsin's final placement after I asked voters to slot them in front of an Auburn team they had just spanked--but in the end, a top 25 poll is a top 25 poll is a top 25 poll. Maybe in a few years a culture of payin' attention and doing something different will grow mossy from the rock shaped by the 1, 2, 3... 25 order that polls are historically locked into, but that takes time. Hopefully not as much time as the Seneca Falls Declaration.

In that vein, however, let it be known that I'm dissatisfied with the current structure of the poll and should a majority of pollsters support or at least tolerate a change to something more flexible, I am all for it. Ideas I have kicked around:
  • Dropping the straight ranking thing in favor of assignment of points. You get er... (25 + 1) * 25 /2 = 325 points to distribute to anywhere from 20 to 30 teams. Max points per team: 25. One team must be denoted a nominal number one even if you give the teams at the top an identical point total. If you want to do straight up 1-25, that's available. If you'd rather not vote for five crappy teams at the end of a poll, that's doable. Etc.
  • Allowing voters to have portions of their vote count extra. Hell, at the beginning of the year I didn't know what Howard's Rock was, let alone where Clemson should rank, but I knew what I thought of most of the Big Ten early. I may have been wrong, but at least I had an opinion. Maybe a team or two each week could be selected and your vote for that team would count double or triple.
I'll revisit this closer to the season's start to get a feel for everyone's opinion on the matter, but if you A) hate the idea of changing the poll format or B) have ideas for the change, please comment/email.

You may have seen an embryonic copy of the 2007 recruiting board when I inadvertently hit "publish" instead of "save draft," but please put it out of your mind. Shoddy work unfit for human eyes... until a week or two from now when it'll make its debut.

Of note: Michigan's always been a school that fires upon any and all targets of opportunity, no matter where they may be. In 2004 Michigan pulled the top three recruits out of Kentucky. Last year they got top 100 kids from California(Jonas Mouton), Florida(Greg Mathews), and South Carolina (Adam Patterson--and we're recruiting two more kids from Patterson's hood--Richland Northeast high school--in '07). The interesting thing about 2007 is that this scouring for horizon-minded kids may take a back seat next year due to the unprecedented level of talent within Michigan. Three kids are on the initial Rivals 100 list (up from one last year, though one has already committed to MSU) but the guys who keep an eye on these things think that will be at least five once the evaluations are done and no fewer than 30 players will end up at BCS schools. Michigan will probably end up with close to ten instate kids if all goes well. And the last time that happened? I dunno. Readers?

Etc.: Tom Brady! Golf! All in one article! Bill Simmons: pissed! The MZone on Herrmann.