Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Time for BCS To Include BlogPoll in Formula

There has been a lot of (entirely justified) talk about the lunacy that is the BCS-driving Coaches and Harris polls this week: Cal over Oregon... Penn State over Iowa... Oklahoma State over Houston (Coaches)... Ole Miss still ranked... LSU at No. 4...

Let's compare those polls to the BlogPoll, a weekly (and administered) polling of more than 100 of the most respected and most attentive college football bloggers in the country. This week:

*Alabama at No. 1 -- only "mainstream" poll to do it.
*Boise State ahead of LSU.
*Iowa ahead of Penn State.
*Houston ahead of Oklahoma State.
*Oregon ahead of Cal.
*Ole Miss: Out.

Imagine that: A college football ranking based on reality (or "resume"), rather than reputation.

This isn't a bunch of forward-thinking, resume-voting outliers (like the AP's Doug Lesmerises) -- this is an aggregate conclusion of more than 100 college football experts.

It is -- in short -- more reflective of reality than any of the "traditional" polls. And it would be one thing to be triumphalist about the BlogPoll results, on their face. But the polls matter:

The Coaches poll and Harris poll impact the BCS title-game pairing. The AP not only crowns its own champion, but -- in the short-term -- most media outlets default to the AP ranking, which drives TV promotion and availability, P.R. and visibility for the teams that are "in."

The college football poll discussion is missing an important piece: The mainstream media is covered (AP); the Coaches are represented; the Harris poll purports to offer "expert" human opinion to "balance" out the Coaches; the computer programmers -- six of them -- get a say.

What is missing is non-"traditional" media (bloggers, some of whom write for the biggest outlets in mainstream sports media -- like Yahoo -- or compete favorably on readers and influence with their team's local "traditional"media outlet... indeed, any AP voter who doesn't consume their beat's best indie blogging is doing a disservice to their readers). What is also missing is any input from fans, but in the absence of a true national "Fan Poll," the BlogPoll -- with its system involving input from readers -- is the closest proxy we have to fan input.

This week's results -- as well as the mainstream hoopla around AP voter Doug Lesmerises' "controversial" (ha!) ballot using mostly "resume-based" ranking -- have made it clear that we have two simultaneous effects: The Coaches and Harris polls have arguably never been more out of touch; the BlogPoll does a better job of reflecting reality.

There is a solution: In the same way the "computer" component of the BCS mixes a half-dozen sources, the BCS should augment the "human" component of the BCS by adding the BlogPoll to the Coaches and Harris polls.

More human input -- particularly from the expert perspective of the BlogPollsters -- will only help the other two human polls. The BCS will get an instant injection of credibility, particularly for incorporating the BlogPoll's system of ultimate transparency and accountability (something absurdly missing from all three of the BCS' core elements -- the Coaches, the Harris and the computers).

And it's not like the BlogPoll is unruly; it is managed in the same way the AP, Harris and Coaches polls are -- by an administrator, who appears to do more to review the bonafides of BlogPoll participants than Harris does with its voters, the AFCA does with its coaches... or even that the AP does with its voters.

The BlogPoll has been around for a few years now; its legitimacy is unquestioned -- it is in the second year of affiliation with CBSSports.com as its partner. This week's results merely highlighted the most striking differentials yet between the BlogPoll and its "mainstream" cohorts. Alternate, knowledgeable, credentialed perspectives -- like the BlogPoll -- will only help the BCS system.

As long as we're going to have the BCS system based on opinion -- and, like it or not, the BCS system will be here for years to come -- let's expand the inputs to include a valuable new source of opinion.

But don't trust me -- compare this week's rankings (even cover up which source is which) and use your own common sense to figure out which rankings seem most accurate.

Trust the closest thing to your own instinct -- trust the BlogPoll. And, by adding the BlogPoll to the mix, create expanded trust in the BCS system -- a system that desperately needs it.

It's better than the status quo.

-- D.S.


Robyn said...

Great post. But ALL the polls are straining credibility with Boise State in the top 5. As an aside, the local sports radio shows here in Ohio have had some lively discussions about who would win a head to head matchup between OSU and Cincinnati.

soop said...

Love how Bloggers are now doing the exact "we should be in control of how things work, we are the gatekeepers" thing that everyone hates about AP writers.

How about we create a system that doesn't count media at all, bloggers or MSM?

The Mark Show said...

So you rip the AP for ranking Boise State #5 but praise the BlogPoll for ranking them even higher? Interesting. Face it, the rankings are always going to be arbitrary, especially this early in the season, no matter who is doing the voting.

Unknown said...

TBDPITL is better... just saying..

Unknown said...

Lets take a look at the differences between the polls during bowl selection time rather than now.

Because, isn't that really the only point it "truly" matters. Who cares if after week for one group is going mostly off results and the other is still going off of reputation/preseason expectations. (which, if you want to get technical about it, the blogpoll is doing too at this point. Preseason expectations make a big win a "big win" in week 4. But at the end of the season it might mean nothing.)

I think bring the argument back up if at the end of the season if there is a major difference in opinion.