Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Tuesday's Top: Bull Circle

Everyone knows the preseason Top 25 is a sham: What, exactly, are the so-called "experts" basing their picks on? Last year's performance? This year's returning players?

This is how you end up with the ultimate "rep" pick: Notre Dame at No. 2. And you can't even claim "West Coast Bias!" (At No. 9, Cal was obviously overrated.)

But after Week 1, there are actually some real game data-points that fans and voters can look to: A chemistry of how top teams played, and – as important – who they beat. And, based on that, here's what my Top 10 ballot looks like:

1. Ohio St.
2. Texas
3. West Virginia
4. Florida St.
5. USC
6. Auburn
7. Tennessee
8. Florida
9. Penn St.
10. Oregon

(Where's Notre Dame? STILL out of my Top 5.)

Why is FSU at No. 4? Are they really the 4th-best team in the country? Hardly (especially if you watched last night's game).

But they beat the best team of the week. (Yes, I'm discounting Tennessee's win over Cal, slightly, because the Bears had no business at No. 9.)

That win should be good enough to put FSU in the Top 5 – for now. And, next week, it could be – and SHOULD be – radically different.

But the point is this: In Week 1, pummeling a weak team shouldn't be given an inflated bonus -- but beating a good team should earn some extra credit.

The Top 25 poll should be fluid, especially in the first few weeks. For now, teams like FSU and Tennessee have proven it on the field... in 2006. Will they be this high in October? Probably not, but who cares? All we can go on is what limited data we have now.

Fans should demand more than "inertia" as a Top 25 voting strategy. But I suspect that's what we'll get in the new Top 25.

-- D.S.

33 comments:

Jon said...

Well I hope ND fans aren't like Duke, Yankees or Red Sox fans because there will be a whole lot of crying to you about their exclusion.....they just didn't look impressive on Saturday though.

Jeff Rogers said...

I am a ND fan and I was honestly afraid watching the game on Saturday. ND fans have had a rough time of it lately with a lot of underachieving teams. I am not complaining, but I am saying that all ND fans are hungry for a great team again. It's been a while. With all the hype preseason, it was easy to get wrapped up in it and I was swept up as well. But watching that game Saturday night, everyone has to admit (or empatically say again) that Notre Dame right now is nowhere near the top 10. Either that or Georgia Tech is the third best team in the country, you decide...

Jake C said...

Very simple solution...it's been mentioned before, but shot down (for who knows why). No (zero, none, nada, zip) polls until the 4th or 5th week. Simple and easy. This way we see what everyone is made of before we start ranking how good teams are. This especially corrects the problem of someone being vastly underrated in the 25-40 range who only loses once, but misses out on a BCS game because of such a tough hill to climb. Or even vice versa (someone ranked too high, but doesn't fall far enough come season's end with 2-3 loses because of a top 10 preseason rank).

wonki said...

not a "huge" ND fan, but I grew up watching them. Would they have cracked your top 5 if they won big? So much of college is about playing for your ranking, instead of just busting out wins (pretty or ugly). The message we're sending to college players is double-sided. Again, maybe another reason the BCS is a bit flawed.

Brien said...

Watched Ohio State dismantle my beloved Huskies in the first 15 minutes and 5 seconds. 28-0 before I had even finished my first bag of nacho cheese Doritos. WOW!

OSU is the real deal. Troy Smith is a great QB and, if his o-line can protect him like they did against NIU (an admittedly under-sized squad), he can pick apart any defense.

To Buckeye fans, great game for your guys, although we do hope that you will remember the name "Garrett Wolfe".

Brien "Forward ... together forward"

Anonymous said...

You sir are a great sports mind. After the next 3 weeks ND will be out of the top 25 completly, im pretty sure they play Penn St, Michigan and Michigan State, byebye Golden Domers

jeff (kc) said...

I don't think Notre Dame looked as bad as everyone thinks. Their first drive got halted by a questionable holding call on a receiver. And they did miss two fieldgoals. 20-10 looks better than 14-10.

A super interesting topic for debate. K-State pulls out a 24-23 win over a 1-AA team, but here's how it happened. The 1-AA team is down 24-17 and scores a TD with about 5 minutes left to pull to 24-23. The coach goes for 2 and the win, but doesn't make it and they go on to lose. Right call or dumb call?

Anonymous said...

ND is overrated. I'm sick of the undeserved hype they're getting. They didn't beat a ranked team all last year, but people still think they're top 10?! Thats crazy...

beRecruited said...

Texas should be ranked #1 - other than QB, the entire team returned and they are clearly in top form already. Its a moot point though because Ohio State and Texas play for #1 this weekend.

http://sportswrap.berecruited.com

whocares said...

Shanoff,

Get off your knees and quit blowing WVU.

Does anyone remember that they only beat UGA by 3 last year? They blew a huge first half lead.

Geo B said...

Did not see the ND game, but as a PSU fan I'm sure hoping the team can get it together and give ND a game. Thanks Dan I don't think PSU deserves a top 5 rating, if PSU wins one of three against OSU/ND/Mich and wins the rest it will have been a good season for a team that lost half their starters.

Go State, Beat the Irish!
Get better soon, Big Ben!
(yeah I grew up south of Pittsburgh)

Brian said...

Re: College rankings. It may bear repeating that the whole system of college rankings was created by the Associated Press in the mid-1930s to CREATE controversy, not resolve it. Anyone who complains about the arbitrariness of school rankings should remember that it's intended to be an unfair, subjective system.

Anonymous said...

Shanoff thanks for giving us a fix for quick sports reads while at work.

Zachary Geballe said...

I agree with Jake C (and the people who have made the suggestion before) that preseason/early season rankings are detrimental to the game. The problem is, without rankings it's harder for the media to hype up games/teams early in the season. You know people are more likely to watch OSU-UT this weekend because it features #1 v. #4. If there were no rankings, that game seems less exciting (even if most knowledgable CFB fans would know that OSU is probably the top team in the country). I'm not saying that's a good reason to keep the rankings, but it's the reason they will stay in place...

Mark (Austin, TX) said...

Georgia Tech provided a method for everyone else to beat ND. Blitz, Blitz and then Blitz some more. Get Quinn to start dancing on his toes back there and all of a sudden the passes are short, long, high or whatever. Stopping the running game is still a bit difficult but I think I'll give ND those rushing yards to take away the big plays.

Preseason polls are a crock, and the regular season polls are usually tainted by them. Since everyone has 12 games now and most BCS conference schools schedule at least one cupcake, make the first week of the season a cupcake-fest and then start the polls. ND didn't look great, but the level of competition from GT versus what UT had against UNT is like comparing apples and oranges. Its the opening week of the season, and even though the games will be snoozers in general, the fact that it is opening weekend should generate enough buzz to get past any Top 25 type matchups. Plus it may give you more upsets and close calls (Montana St. vs Colorado (Worst.Loss.Ever), Oklahoma vs. UAB etc etc).

Mark (Austin, TX) said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Chris said...

ND is SOOOOOO going down against the Nittany Lions!

Mark (Austin, TX) said...

I think the call by the coach of Illinois St. was the right call. If he had gone for the tie he would have faced two things: 1. KSU would have tried to drive for a game winning score with either the tie or the two point conversion. In the likely scenario that KSU was bigger and more athletic, it may have been easy for them to get into field goal range. 2. Again, assuming KSU is more athletic, you would have to like their odds in OT. Going into OT as a big underdog is a very risky proposal as it can be one mistake and game over.

On top of that, I like a coach with the guts to go for the win. As much as I dislike Nebraska, I always admired Osborne for going for 2 in the Orange Bowl against Miami. It may have cost him a National Title but he wanted to win it outright. That takes a level of guts that is rare to see. So I applaud the Illinois State coach for having the guts to try and win the game not just tie it and play for OT.

Chuck Berray said...

Ah, Danny, it's good to have you back again, laddy. Although I have to admit that I miss the artwork of the deceased Daily Quickie.

Ok, let me see if I've got this right. Texas CB Tarell Brown and two of his compatriots get pulled over by a state trooper and lo and behold Mr. Brown is asleep in the back seat with a 9mm in his lap. In addition, the trooper discovers less than two ounces of weed in the car.

Now what do you think the odds are that Mack Brown straps on a pair and suspends Brown for this Saturdays showdown with Ohio State? My guess is virtually nil, seeing as though Brown was expected to cover Ted Ginn for the whole game.

I know it will never happen in my lifetime, but I wish that Myles Brand, the eunuch that he is, and the NCAA rules commitee would mandate an immediate one game suspension for any athlete who gets arrested for any gun/narcotic related arrest.

I know for a fact if I was pulled over and a trooper found me asleep in the back seat of a car with a 9 in my lap and a bag of weed on the floor, I'm going straight to jail. Do not pass home, collect $200.

It's no small wonder that college (and professional athletes) feel such a sense of entitlement. The fact that they most often just get a slap on the wrist for committing crimes that would send you and I to jail is the real crime.

Anonymous said...

"But the point is this: In Week 1, pummeling a weak team shouldn't be given an inflated bonus -- but beating a good team should earn some extra credit."

Yet you blast Notre Dame for beating a good team. Notre Dame will beat Penn State, who you now rank #9 after beating a terrible Akron team not very impressively.

No wonder espn canned your ass.

Greg H said...

I think everyone is getting a little too excited by ND's near disaster with GT. Aside from USC, no team in the top six played anyone even worth mentioning and yet they proved themselves to be superior? ND had one big question mark in the offseason, their defense which stepped up huge for them and basically won them the game. If you think the offense will play that poorly consistently you are sadly mistaken. GT is not a powerhouse by any means, but I would say they are a little better (especially defensively) than North Texas. I wouldn't write off the Irish yet.

CorrND said...

Anonymous's posting from 12:17 is right on! How can you hate on ND for beating a GT team that is at worst decent, yet give so much credit to Texas for pummeling a nobody?

If you want to blast preseason rankings for not meaning ANYTHING, why not give credit to an underrated GT team?

kito said...
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kito said...
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kito said...

Notre Dame has to be ranked in the top 5!

You reward FSU with a top 5 pick (I can understand) because they beat a solid Miami team on the road.

However, if you are going to penalize Notred Dame for beating a SOLID ACC (Tech is a top 6 ACC team) team on the road, then you have to penalize Ohio State and Texas for beating up on weak competition at HOME! Those wins proved NOTHING.

Of the 3 schools, ND had the most challenging opponent and therefore they had the most impressive win. To move West Virgina and Florida ahead of ND for beating Marshall & Souther Miss at HOME is a joke.

You also dropped LSU out of the top 10. Probably because they play a weak opponent. So again, how do you not penalize Ohio State and Texas (moved Texas up?) for beating up on TERRIBLE opponents.

Joe (Dayton) said...

You have to be flexible the first few weeks of the season when looking at these polls, but you cannot be TOO flexible.

Is Tennessee that good or is Cal just overrated?
Is ND overhyped or is Georgia Tech a tough team that gave them one to remember?
Did USC not lose a step despite losing 3 of their best offensive players or is Arkansas a 4-5 win team and USC did what most teams would have done?
Is FSU and Miami's defenses that good or were both offenses so bad the defenses were great as a result?

I guess those are the answers we'll see in the next few weeks. Ranking teams at this time is hard, but it is also necessary for TV ratings...

Once again it all come down to MONEY.

UNEAUX said...

What about LSU?

Jeff Rogers said...

I think it's worth pointing out that Akron and Northern Illinois play in the MAC which is a pretty solid football conference. No one is giving them any love, but almost every year we see a MAC school knock off one (or more) Big Ten schools (probably the best or second best conference with the SEC).

Anonymous said...

That is a joke Jeff Rogers...

Zachary Geballe said...

Can we also talk about Texas being elevatated to #2 in the poll for the sole purpose of billing this week's matchup with OSU as "#1 v. #2?"

Anonymous said...

I understand that ND didn't play as well Saturday as they should have, and I also understand the justification for dropping them in the top 25. However what I don't understand is how Texas moved up a spot for beating North Texas. Raise your hand if you've ever heard of North Texas before Saturday. Exactly. Teams shouldn't be rewarded that much for beating up on a school so clearly and completely inferior to them

Troy (Gainesville, FL) said...

So you're against voting inertia but you'll put a team (that looked mediocre) in the top 5 for beating another team (that looked mediocre) that might have been the worst team to take a loss this weekend?

Personally, I'll take ND at 4 out of reputation over FSU at 4 out of a crummy win against a decent team.

Anonymous said...

For a Harvard guy I would have thought you'd be smarter than that. You complain about voters' hesitancy to depart from preseason rankings after the first week; yet FSU, whom you admit is less than spectacular, gets credit for being a likewise lackluster Miami team merely becasue the U was ranked in the top 10 last Monday. If the same Miami team had stepped onto the field as an also-receiving-votes, (and judging by how they looked, had someone made that prediction he wouldn't have been too far off), FSU wouldn't get a sniff at your top 5 this week.
Nice try,