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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

This is the part where we flesh out our opinions on specific teams. As part of the two-preseason-poll thing we have this: a roundtable in which people, bloggers and commenters alike, are invited to take a look at the preseason poll and answer the following questions:

Who is overrated?

Who is underrated?

This roundtable has a quick turnaround, so I'll be gathering responses for a roundup post Monday in which I'll attempt to summarize the general feeling and highlight the best reasons given. Get crackin'!

2 Comments:

Mergz said...

My problem with polls – especially preseason polls – is that it is impossible to state with any degree of credibility that any team is “over” or “under” rated.

Take last year’s preseason AP Poll’s top 12 –

1. Ohio State (35) 0-0 1,558
2. Notre Dame (10) 0-0 1,470
3. Texas (8) 0-0 1,411
4. Auburn (3) 0-0 1,395
5. West Virginia (6) 0-0 1,354
6. USC (3) 0-0 1,345
7. Florida 0-0 1,178
8. LSU 0-0 1,144
9. California 0-0 975
10. Oklahoma 0-0 960
11. Florida State 0-0 949
12. Miami (FL) 0-0 893

We knew by season’s end (or even sooner) that Texas and Auburn were over rated at 3 & 4, and that Notre Dame, FSU and Miami were over rated period. (Notre Dame got 10 first place votes!) Florida, with no first place votes, was under rated. But did we know it preseason?

I guess the real question is what exactly are we voting for in a poll? Are we voting for a ranking of who we think can win the mythical national championship? Because if we are, the Boise States of the world should always be unranked – they have a virtually no chance.

Or, are we voting for who we feel is the “best” (insert your definition) team?

National pollsters seem to vote an undefined mix of “best” team, versus who can “win it all”, against how many losses (and quality of losses). Take LSU last year ranked 3rd at season’s end with 2 losses, over several teams with fewer losses. The “feeling” seemed to be that LSU was a pretty good team despite losing twice. Was that fair?

For our poll (Saurian Sagacity), I wanted to free my voting from the influence of the national polls. But every time I started to order the teams, I couldn’t help but think about what the national pollsters thought. It was literally the elephant in the room.

Obviously, the Week 1 BlogPoll was heavily influenced by the national polls. The top 10 teams in the AP poll and BlogPoll are identical, albeit with slightly different rankings. The overall rankings are very close. It cannot be coincidence – some sort of “group-think” is at work here.

In the end, I merely ranked the top 25 based on some work I had been doing that showed the 4 year trailing average recruiting class ranks of all 119 Division I teams (using Scout.com’s ratings). Over the past 4 years, per Scout, USC has the most accumulated recruited talent, and Florida is second.

I am well aware in doing this I based my rankings on someone else’s (Scout.com’s) opinion. However, I don’t think preseason polls are defensible in any manner, so it is as good as anything else.

Going forward, I plan on dynamic changes to my rankings through early October based on actual game results (a novel idea!). Should any team lose even a single game in September (including my Gators with games against Tennessee and Auburn), they will drop dramatically in my poll.

In my opinion, the first “real” poll I do will be the one after the first week in October.

Mark Hasty said...

Here you go!