Monday, January 12, 2009

12 AP Voters Nullify Their Cred By Voting
Utah Over Their Previous No. 1, Florida

Via Pollspeak -- a spectacularly useful site whose existence I have been begging for for years -- a wild piece of information that I had asked them to find out for me:

Of the 16 AP voters who gave Utah their No. 1 vote, 12 nullified their penultimate ballot, which listed Florida at No. 1 the last time they were asked.

Presumably, if your No. 1 team heading into the bowl season wins their final game -- even if you didn't have their opponent (Oklahoma) at No. 2 and had them at 3 or 4 -- you would keep them there if they won.

This is the equivalent of jury nullification and it borders on intellectual bankruptcy. I'm curious how many actually thought Utah was the best team and how many just wanted to either (a) make a statement about the BCS or (b) make a name for themselves.

Here is the roll-call of the suspicious dozen:

Doug Lesmerises:
Jake Schaller:
Bob Hammond:
Jim Lamar:
Kevin Pearon:
Mark Anderson:
Mike Strain:
Mitch Vingle:
Randy Harrison:
Scott Wolf:
Steve Conroy:
Tom Hart:

Huge thanks to Pollspeak for their help in compiling this list. Transparency and accountability among poll voters -- in any sport and for any reason (rankings, awards, Hall of Fame) is paramount in our sports culture. We finally have the tools to track it.

UPDATE: Here's a link to how all AP voters voted Utah, ranging from 1st to 5th.

-- D.S.

UPDATE 2: Hugh from Pollspeak sent me an email, and I wanted to print it for you in full (with his permission, of course):
[P]ersonally, I don't have a problem with the voters who switched to fact, that can sometimes be a good thing. I more often complain about how people don't make changes to their polls enough...simply because they feel they can't "slide" other teams out of the way, but that isn't the fairest way to vote.

The fairest way to vote is to start with a clean slate each week and then look at what happened the previous week and create a whole new ballot. In fact, the AP voter guidelines say: " Don’t hesitate to make significant changes in your ballot from week to week. "

I"m not saying Utah deserves to be ranked over Florida...but I certainly wouldn't criticize voters who think that way. Maybe they wanted to put Utah #1, but thought Utah was lacking a quality win. Once they proved themselves...voters changed their mind. I think that is admirable. I much more often see people afraid to make changes...seemingly because they want to prove they were "right" all along.
Thanks, Hugh.


Don said...

Just because Florida was No. 1 going in and won, doesn't mean they can't reconsider their vote after watching Florida play and Utah play. Aren't you the one who's always griping about poll inertia, but now you are in favor of it? Have some consistency.

Ted Hill said...

Dan, Why do you care? It's not like Utah has no right to be voted number one. They were the only undefeated team and they did defeat Alabama much more convincingly than Florida did. You won the title, and are number one in all polls. Your signifigant other in your bromance (Tebow) is coming back for another year and you will be consensus number one going into next year. What more do you want?

Ell said...

I totally disagree.

I vote in the BlogPoll (as do you), and while for some reason (I'm going to claim Tebow-induced post-Florida loss funk), I failed to vote after the SEC title game. I would have voted for Florida.

In my final BlogPoll ballot, I voted for Utah. It wasn't intellectual dishonesty or to make a point or a name for myself - I just came to believe they deserved the vote.

I watched them play for the second time all season (the first was an incomplete viewing against Michigan - they were hard to find). I read more about the team and their season. I came to understand that their schedule wasn't a big ole creampuff.

Additionally, I considered what a team had to do to win the title. And what else can you ask Utah to do? They scheduled reasonably well, beat the teams on their schedule, and won a bowl game against a good opponent.

Taking nothing away from Florida (who is a great team), Utah won all of their games, Florida did not. Until there's a playoff, there's no reason Utah shouldn't be number 1.

Chad Stanton said...

So you can't change your mind? They couldn't have thought that Utah's win over Alabama who was a one loss SEC team that was number 1 for much of the college season was more impressive than Florida's?

Michael W said...

People changed their mind? Omigosh, lynch 'em!

Secondly, as someone in the field of law, jury nullification plays a very important role in law, even if we rarely like to admit it. It allows a jury to say "yeah, he's guilty, but the law sucks, so we're gonna let him off anyway." In this case, it's "yeah, we voted for Florida before, but our vote was wrong, so we'll vote Utah anyway."

Andy Roberts said...

Thesis: Utah's win over Alabama was more impressive than Florida's win over Oklahoma, therefore they jump the Gators.

This is hardly unprecedented in bowl season. Notre Dame won its 1977 national title by leaping from #5 to #1 after creaming Texas 38-10 in the Cotton Bowl. The only reason it hasn't happened more often is because the system is basically rigged up so the title game winner will be undisputed.

You're just bitter because your boy Tebow wasn't a unanimous national champion. It doesn't matter, they don't have to split the title, so I don't see why this matters. Utah's 13-0 and had plenty of good reason to be named #1. I would've voted them there too.

The Fist said...

DS, PLEASE don't let your normal good writing fall victim to your home-team bias. Intellectual bankruptcy for changing the number 1 vote? COME ON!

Pretend for a moment you didn't admit that Utah had a case, especially if the championship game was sloppy (and it surely was, at least enough for some). Pretend for a moment there can be such a thing as intellectual bankruptcy over the vote for a fictional (or, if you prefer, faux) championship.

Your argument that you can't bump your #1 team down if they win just because it's the last game is nonsensical. First, you talk aout folks doing it all the time during the season -- why would it be different at the end? Second, it is an OPINION poll. The ONLY reason Utah was out of the equation was because a bunch of voters had the OPINION that their schedule was soft so their record was inflated. When Utah went out and beat the hell out of 'Bama, they showed the whole country as best they could that they were for real.

The better question to ask here, it seems, is what might be the origin of your shock/ire/anger over this? Is it just another angle to criticize pollsters, or is your UF bandwagon running roughshod over your reason?

Qwagmire said...

I think if it was any team other than Florida you wouldnt have even bothered...

When you talk about Florida and Tebow, the way you talk about them, is like me talking about pie.

Jon said...

What if those voters who put Florida at #1 the previous week thought that Utah's domination of Alabama was more impressive than Florida's close win over the Tide or their mediocre win over Oklahoma?

Jon said...


"If Utah played the exact same schedule and won by the exact same scores, but played their games as the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, they'd be No. 1 by a unanimous vote."

Unknown said...

i'm a little surprised to read this, coming from the guy who made arguments against voter inertia throughout the entire season. i really think your love of florida has clouded your thinking here and led to you becoming the one who is intellectually bankrupt in this case.

utah and usc looked like the best teams to me in their bowl wins, by a considerable margin. texas looked pretty bad actually, and florida looked flat for the first half. they came alive in the second half but still did not look stellar. not like the best team in the country.

if i had a vote, it would look like this:
#1 utah
#2 usc
#3 florida

you should be glad more voters don't think like i do.