Monday, September 18, 2006

CFB Top 25: My Take (and YOUR Take)

Quickie readers know that one of my biggest crusades is "sports populism": The empowerment of fans, to as much of an extent in every sport as possible.

To me, very little has represented the opposite of populism than the traditional college football polls, particularly the "human" polls: The AP (media) poll, the coaches poll, the Harris poll.

I have long argued that fans care more, watch more and know more than the so-called "experts."

(I have also, secretly and not-so-secretly, always pined to vote in a college football poll. Not because I know best, but so I could use fan input to make my rankings and try to disrupt the system.)

Anyway, there has been one interesting online-sports concept that I've been keeping my eye on: The "BlogPoll," a group of 60 or so enthusiastic college football bloggers who come together to create a rankings that fills in the gaps where the AP and coaches blow it:

Passion, transparency, accountability.

They post their rankings, but take input from their readers to shape the final product. They hear from other voters, who force them to be transparent about their biases and justify their picks. I think it's a really cool idea, and I'm excited to join in.

So here's the situation: I've got my Top 25, based on watching way too many games on Saturday – a lot of you were right there with me – but this is only a starting point. Take a look, and let me know in the Comments area if you think anything is egregiously wrong. Or even mildly something you'd change. (Don't forget to provide some "why.")

I'll go back and revisit the list, synthesizing all of your arguments and observations, and make changes where necessary before submitting my final ballot. (You can check out the BlogPoll here.)

(Don't worry: There won't be this long of an intro each week. I just wanted to introduce the concept.)

Shanoff's Top 25 Ballot
1. Ohio State
2. Auburn
3. West Virginia
4. USC
5. Michigan
6. Florida
7. Georgia
8. Louisville
9. LSU
10. Texas
11. Oregon
12. Notre Dame
13. VA Tech
14. TCU
15. Iowa
16. Clemson
17. Oklahoma
18. Tennessee
19. Arizona St
20. BC
21. Boise St
22. Penn St

23. Alabama
24. Rutgers
25. Florida St

Let me try to explain myself with a few notes:

I was unimpressed with OSU in beating Cincy, but not enough to have the guts to knock them from No. 1. Winning at UT was still the top road win of the year.

Not TOO far ahead of Michigan over Notre Dame, which is why I put UM ahead of Florida and into the Top 5.

As much as I like West Virginia, I can't deny that the best team in the SEC – beating another Top 6 team (even at home) – shouldn't be No. 2.

I'm not sure why I have Georgia No. 7. Maybe because they're unbeaten, from the SEC and because I'm a sucker for true frosh QBs.

Louisville is not better than LSU or Texas without Brohm, but you can only go with "body of work" here. It's an interesting debate about how you should factor that.

OK, I've probably underrated Oregon at No. 11, but they just as easily could have lost and been in Oklahoma's No. 17 spot.

Virginia Tech isn't disrespected at No. 13. Have you seen that schedule?

I overrate TCU at 14, yes perhaps,but they absolutely shut down the most sophisticated offense in the country.

20-25 is a crap-shoot: I really wanted to get Rutgers in there. I am ashamed of myself for keeping FSU there, even barely hanging on at 25.

OK, those are some of my thoughts on how this was constructed. Now it's time for your reactions, analysis and picks in the Comments section. It WILL be taken VERY seriously.

We'll see how it goes. The whole thing is a great experiment for me. (And I agonized over my ballot way more than I thought I would... or would need to.)

-- D.S.


Mark (Austin, TX) said...

Damn someone took an idea I was working on and actually made it work. Damn Damn Damn!

Ok that being said, I would rank Va Tech ahead of Notre Dame, yes Va Tech hasn't played anyone, but I would think at a nuetral site, Va Tech would beat Notre Dame.

TCU may be a touch high, but with what they did to Texas Tech, I would give them even money on any game against their core group (teams ranked 10-15).

Iowa still at 15? I am definitly unimpressed with them this weekend and I would bet on Clemson, Oklahoma and Tennessee to beat them in any sort of round robin affair.

Boston College plays a not great BYU team, at home, and needs double overtime to win? I would be putting them no better than 23, more than likely 25 or worse.

Christian Thoma said...

I would rank USC over West Virginia. USC easily dispatched Nebraska, and West Virginia's schedule is nothing to write home about so far (ever?).

jhawkjjm said...

Seems pretty reasonable. I didn't get to watch as much as I wanted to and I don't tend to pay close attention to the SEC (I'm in Big 12 country) so I can't speak much about some of those teams.

Couple little things to consider. Didn't BC beat Clemson, shouldn't that factor in the rankings. I'd say that Clemson is a bit too high for a win over a FSU team that is questionable to be in the Top 25.

I'd put OU ahead of Clemson as well. Though that's a coin flip situation. OU got robbed on the road (can't wait till the Pac 10 releases its reveiw on that) against probably the second best team in the Pac 10.

I might also flip WVU and USC as well. Granted its a very overrated Nebraska team, but USC has played two "name" teams and soundly beat them both.

Maybe even move Iowa behind Clemson and OU as well, if you struggle to beat Syracuse...

Mustafa S. (New Orleans) said...

I really think LSU is getting shafted. Just look at the game, you put Auburn at #2 but without that horrible PI call LSU takes the lead. The refs cost them the game and to say Louisville is better? With Brohm and Bush maybe, without I say LSU is at least a touchdown favorite.

SF said...

Michigan should be ranked #3. I can understand Auburn with the win vs. LSU, but USC and WVA have not taken down a top 5 team yet...on the road by the way...and by 26 points, don't forget.

Give Big Blue the respect they deserve (at least for now)

Jingoist said...

USC ahead of Michigan? Dan, surely the ROAD win over ND vaults Michigan over USC who, despite beating a ranked Husker team, really had no worries at home.

rob (warwick)

Trey (formerly TF) said...

1-7 could all be debated.

Is Auburn better than OSU?
Is USC better than Michigan
Is Florida better than WVU?

What is more of a concern to me is the fact that undefeated Louisville and 1 very close loss LSU are below a texas team that was man handled at home.

I'm all for rewarding teams for out of conference games like that, but lets be fair here. Louisville should be top 8 and LSU won a game that was still in doubt with 4 seconds left...


CMFost said...

My Top 5
1. Ohio State - So far the best team
2. Michigan - that is until they lose to Ohio State.
3. West Virginia - Good team and will beat someone -when is the WV/Louisville Game?
4. USC - They are due to fall and fall hard
5. Auburn - No offense no chance.

Ken said...

I don't understand how Boston College beats Clemson to knock them out of the Top 25, then Clemson beats Florida State and not only re-enters the Top 25, but does so FOUR spots ahead of BC. Let's not forget this HUGE victory for Clemson comes against a FSU squad that struggled to beat Troy last week, which followed a win over a now unranked Miami team - a Miami team whose only win so far is against Florida A&M. Somehow I fail to see how Clemson is magically the #16 team in the country again.

I also think Notre Dame should be ranked ahead of Oregon. I think 3-0 against Stanford, Fresno State and Oklahoma is slightly less impressive than 2-1 against Georgia Tech, Penn State and Michigan. But based on that logic, West Virginia's 3-0 against Marshall, Eastern Washington and Maryland, and Georgia's 3-0 against Western Kentucky, South Carolina and UAB isn't nearly as impressive as either Oregon or ND, so maybe Oregon and ND should both be in the Top 10 with WVU and UGA mired in 11-15 mediocrity.

If the point is to vote based on the "body of work", then let's take into account the teams' bodies of work. Teams that lose to tough opponents (even teams that lose badly) shouldn't be penalized for not scheduling cupcakes like teams such as WVU and UGA have scheduled.

Christian Thoma said...

The reason Michigan won't get huge props is because those of us who weren't delusional (and in this case, Dan qualifies) knew that Notre Dame was NOT a top 10 team.

It's like I said at work this morning: "Who knew that Notre Dame sucked so bad? Oh wait, I did."

CorrND said...

I don't get it, Dan. Which is it going to be:

ND is overrated (in which case, you have no business moving Michigan that high)


ND is still legit and Michigan is just that good (in which case, ND should not have dropped that far)?

As I've said all year, I'm going with ND being overrated (WAY overrated on D) and Michigan just having a very good (and certainly lucky) day. I like ND at 12 or 13 but Michigan at 7 or 8 at best.

Jason said...

Whatever, Shanoff....Rutgers will crack the 25 next week.

/Go Scarlet Knights!

Josh said...

You are the absolute epitome of a hypocrite. You brandish this great slogan that teams should be judged on their play from week to week, yet the last two weeks Cal (ranked #20 or #22 depending on the poll) has won their two games by a combined score of 84-33. One of those was a Big Ten power and the other was a highly touted 1-AA team. You, with an extreme bias for the SEC, like the rest of the media, have continued to judge Cal based solely on their game at Tennessee and haven't even included them in your top 25. Is it truly going to take them running the table for you to respect them? ASU, your #19, beat Colorado (a sad excuse for a junior college team this year) 21-3 and they moved up. Cal beats a 1-AA that would wipe the field with Colorado and they're not even included. That's just pathetic.

Unknown said...

Georgia...I dont think they are a Top 10 team but...can't move them yet either.

pavonnes said...

I would not put anyone from the ACC (Absolutely Crappy Conference) in the top 20. Who does VaTech play this weekend, Buffalo or Temple ?!?

Boston College should plead temporary insanity, and ask to be resubmitted to the BigEast.

Oklahoma should be higher, PAC 10 officials were neglegent and unethical - i guess they've been hanging around USC too much.

pavonnes said...
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LudaKris said...

FSU NEEDS to be in the top25, for their defense alone. I have no doubt that FSU wouldnt beat the hell out of Boise State, Penn St,and Rutgers. Penn State would be a good fight, but I still give the edge to FSU. You will see by the end of the year when they beat the hell out of Boston College, and hopefull still play in the ACC Championship game. NO WAY FSU gets knocked out of the top 25 this year.

Trey (formerly TF) said...

FSU is a top 25 team, but don't try and tell me their defense is unbelievable. They gave up 345 yards and 27 points to Clemson at home.

They have a good defense, but I wouldn't put it near the top in the NCAA.

PhillyGirl said...

I hope Rutgers stays in the Top 25. I am not a fan of the team and know nothing about their program, but saw this article in today's New York Times.

With college football being all about the money at the top football schools (and the loads of money they get), it would be nice for Rutgers to reap some of the rewards that come with being a highly ranked team...

Twa & Ry Guy said...

You were unimpressed by OState over Cincy? Why? They did play sluggish in the forst half, and trailed for the 1st time all year but remember this...they held cincy to -4 rushing yards. James L is emerging as a star at LB. Smith has thrown over 100 passes without a INT. They turned it up in the second half and won by 30.

Iowa needs to be dropped further. They have been totally unimpressive all season. Even though they didnt have tate against Syracuse, they STILL should have beaten them, and barely did.

FSU needs to be out, and im glad you had the stones to put rutgers in there.

WVU needs to be a little lower until they play someone...anyone. In order to gain some respect they need to schedule tough non conference games a la Lville v miami (both miami and nd got curbed in the same day...the only way i could have been happier is UM getting beat down as well...too bad they had to be the ones laying the wood to the domers)

FuckingBrian said...

Wow, I go to Alabama and I think you have them too high. Ken Darby still hasn't really gotten going and Schula won't give Jimmy Johns any touches (even when he's not suspended). Our D-Line is suspect and our secondary still has alot to prove.

I do have to say that it is not often that a line can plug in a true freshman at LT and play really well. Andre Smith will be an outland trophy finalist in a year or wo.

Drucifer said...

You can not seriously rank West Virginia ahead of the Florida Gators....They've played Marshall, Maryland, and East Washington. Until they play a real team they should be behind USC, Florida, and Michigan. Want more respect? Play a tougher schedule....

Unknown said...

Dan I know it's been said (at least I'm assuming it has) but you wrote:

"Virginia Tech isn't disrespected at No. 13. Have you seen that schedule?"

Then you proceeded to place West Virginia in the Top 3? I've made it very clear both here and on the FBV Blog of my own that I don't think WVU is a national championship contender because of the cupcake schedule they play - but if you're going to put them in there in the Top 3 then you can't punish VT for playing such a weak schedule.

Don't get me wrong - Steve Slaton is the real deal and if he could go pro after this year he'd be a serious candidate as a top pick (would Houston pass over another chance at a Reggie Bush caliber player) but I dont think for one second that WVU would beat USC if the two played right now.

TJ said...

I'd put Cal in there instead of FSU for the Minnesota win, but Josh is going a little overboard trying to say we should respect them for beating a "highly touted 1-AA team." If beating a 1-AA team ever becomes a reason to put someone in the top 25... well, let's just hope it never comes to that.

I still say Auburn is the #1 team, with WVU #2 and OSU #3, and LSU is too low at #9, but overall a pretty sensible top 25.

About Rutgers, I think theyre a great choice for a spot in the 20s. It's even better because that means your poll has 3 Big East teams, 3 PAC 10 teams, and 2 Big 12 teams, which is great.

One more thing: if South Florida can win at Kansas next week, then the following week will see a matchup of 4-0 USF vs. 4-0 Rutgers. Winner gets a top 15-20 vote from me.

Karen said...

ok so you believe Oregon is 6 spots above Oklahoma even though it took a last second miracle comeback aided by SEVERAL blatantly blown calls by a pac-10 crew and a last second blocked FG for them to win by 1 point? i can't see where you are coming from on this one...especially now that the pac-10 admitted that not only did the oregon player touch the ball illegally on the onside kick, but also, oklahoma recovered the ball!!!

YanksIn'06 said...

Dude I am telling you right now, 2 weeks in Iowa City the Hawkeyes are going to beat Ohio State. You heard it here first. Check it out in the last four years from today Iowa has only lost 1 at home, not a typo ONCE. You heard it here first!

David (Omaha, NE) said...

I may be a homer due to my Nebraska fandom, but I ranked Nebraska 19th and USC 10th in SportsNation's latest poll (whereas the consensus vote featured USC in 4th and Nebraska outside looking in, at 26th).

After watching the game two more times, I can not stress enough how similar this was to the Arkansas game. Only because USC won big in the end are their faults being put in the spotlight. We've gotten so used to USC winning that our blinders are on when it comes to their games. Before Lucky jammed his finger on the handoff and USC recovered the fumble, it was still 14-3 and Nebraska was in USC territory. That was a scoring drive lost. Or how about the sack on Booty that caused a fumble (recovered by Nebraska) early in the game when it was still 7-3 that was taken away because of a delay of game call (made just after the play had started). Or Jones' dropped INT. Or Grixby's dropped INT that was an easy pick 6. Or Shanle's dropped INT on the Patrick Turner Duck. That's four potential takeaways negated by Nebraska or the officials, not USC. Do some quick math and the game is either tied or Nebraska has a small lead.

Look, I agree that a team probably has to play a near-perfect game to beat USC with all the talent they've got. But Nebraska did play a near-perfect game, they just let it slip through their fingerts (literally) and didn't have the team speed to make up for it. Nebraska isn't all the way back, but USC is being blown way out of proportion on past successes and Jarrett's mighty legs.

Cody said...

Dan, this is the 3rd poll I've seen that you have put out and each time your top 10 is different(the right reserved to change duly noted). A work in progress I guess.

Starting at the top.. USC in ahead of WV. WV schedule is just too weak. You jumped Michigan 5 spots (10 last week to 5) by beating an overranked ND team? I (along with the AP) had Texas ahead of Georgia last week even though Texas lost. What did Georgia do this week to deserve to jump them?..beat UAB?

I saw that someone said that they can't believe that you have Oregon 6 spots better that Oklahoma even though it went to the wire, (and help from the refs to boot) don't forget that Oregon had four turn overs and it was still that close.

My top 10

1. OSU
2. Auburn
3. USC
4. Flordia
5. W. Virginia
6. Texas
7. Michigan
8. Georgia
9. Louisville
10. LSU

Cody said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
MP said...

Scary as it is, I think Rutgers can be in the Top 25 all year.

But hey, they've suffered long enough. Let 'em have it.

No, Michigan is still not a Top 5 team. And I'm a Michigan fan.

Can I also point out how death threats are never necessary?

FreKy J said...

Here's my Top 10 based on the ladder system I'm using, which only considers the actual games played against other ladder opponents and whether or not the team won.

1) Florida
2) Oregon
3) Michigan
4) Auburn
5) Ohio State
6) Rutgers
7T) Louisville
7T) Michigan State
9) Boston College
10) Alabama