Archive for the 'Rankings' Category

Pre-season BlogPoll round up

Thursday, August 24th, 2006

The House Rock Built has done a yeoman’s job of rounding up the pre-season BlogPoll roundtable responses. That’s a lot of Rs.

Two-minute drill: Vols’ report card, AP poll out, Dawg Sports’ feasting on the flesh of the enemy

Monday, August 21st, 2006

Here’s the hurry up offense for this morning:

  • Mr. Numb Existence presides over a bench trial in the case of BlogPoll v. Mr. Bold and finds him guilty of one count of Malicious Intent, one count of Cattle Rustling, and two counts of False Advertising, but acquits him of two counts of SEC Fraud, three counts of Conspiracy, and one Cardinal Sin.
  • GoVolsXtra.com’s Mike Griffith grades the Vols on this weekend’s scrimmage. The QBs get a B this time, and Griffith notes that while Ainge made better decisions, he “needs to develop a better pocket presence or he’s going to get hurt.” Crompton apparently has a better knack for feeling the pressure. Griffith gives the running backs an A- and says Foster “looks poetic gliding and changing speeds in the open field,” that Montario Hardesty “hits holes quicker,” and that “LeMarcus Coker is electrifying . . . .” Overall, the team received a B.
  • The AP Poll just came out, and the Volunteers are No. 23.
  • Kyle at DawgSports has a comprehensive Florida preview up. Don’t miss the “feasting on the flesh of the enemy” portion of the piece.
  • College Football News says that the extent of David Cutcliffe’s impact on the Volunteers is No. 12 on the list of questions that will impact the 2006 season. The top question, according to CFN, is whether Texas can repeat with a freshman quarterback. By the way, in its quick picks piece, CFN likes Cal over Tennessee (23-14) and Florida over Tennessee by three, but likes the Vols over both LSU (24-20) and Georgia (16-13). They’re figuring that Tennessee will find itself, but not until mid-season.
  • SI.com sends a postcard from Tennessee’s fall camp.
  • If you missed it last week, CBS Sportsline says the SEC East is the toughest division on the nation. No kidding.

The Case of BlogPoll v. Mr. Bold, 2006 WL 123456 (Tenn. Ct. App. Eastern Section)

Sunday, August 20th, 2006
Mr. Numb Existence presiding

As I said earlier, I was dubbed Mr. Numb Existence in the pre-season BlogPoll for having the “rightest” ballot, meaning merely that I was closest of all voters to what the final results were.

As Mr. Numb Existence, I have a responsibility to my BlogPoll brethren:

Each week the top blog on each list will be given a fancy title–”Mr. Bold” and “Mr. Numb Existence,” respectively–and politely requested to comment on their ballot. Mr. Bold is asked to convince poll voters that he is right on a team or two he has ranked strangely. Mr. Numb Existence is asked to evaluate Mr. Bold’s argument, decide whether he buys it, and declare if he will adjust his rankings accordingly next week (pending the games, of course). Should either Mr. Bold or Mr. Numb Existence be unable to participate in this exercise, the next blog on the list shall step forth into the void.


All rise. The BlogPoll Court is now is session, the not-so-honorable Mr. Numb Existence presiding.

This is the pre-season, folks, and so I’m going with the standard of proof accorded criminal defendants. Frank McGrath, the pre-season Mr. Bold, must be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to be convicted.

The prosecution offers Exhibit 1 into evidence:

Ballot of Frank McGrath, Week 1
Rank Team Delta
1 Notre Dame
25
2 Ohio State
24
3 Florida
23
4 Auburn
22
5 Southern Cal
21
6 Miami (Florida)
20
7 Florida State
19
8 Georgia
18
9 Tennessee
17
10 Nebraska
16
11 Texas
15
12 Penn State
14
13 Virginia Tech
13
14 Clemson
12
15 Iowa
11
16 West Virginia
10
17 Tulsa
9
18 Alabama
8
19 TCU
7
20 Louisiana State
6
21 Oregon
5
22 UTEP
4
23 Oklahoma
3
24 UCLA
2
25 Michigan
1

Dropped Out:

The counts:

  1. One count of Malicious Intent: LSU at No. 20.
  2. One count of Cattle Rustling: Texas at No. 11.
  3. Two counts of SEC Fraud: four SEC teams in the top 10, including Tennessee and Georgia.
  4. Three counts of Conspiracy: Florida, Miami, and Florida State all in the top 10.
  5. Two counts of False Advertising: Tulsa at No. 17 and UTEP at No. 22
  6. One Cardinal Sin: Louisville unranked.

The accused now offers his defense.

1. On the first count of Malicious Intent against rival school LSU, ranking them at No. 20:

[Y]es, I will be ****** if I give LSU a free pass to the Top 10. But at least I included them.

Response of the Court: The Court reminds the accused that this is a court of law and obscenity-laden outbursts will not be tolerated. LSU is clearly one of the two best teams in the SEC, which defendant himself uses as the benchmark for all other leagues. Ranking them at No. 20 is clearly nothing more than pre-meditated, unadulterated malice.

Verdict: Guilty.

2. On the count of Cattle Rustling: Texas at No. 11.

. . . .

Response of the Court: . . . .

Verdict: Guilty.

3. On the two counts of SEC Fraud: four SEC teams in the top 10, including Tennessee and Georgia:

And yes, I have a bias toward the SEC. Absolutely I do. Now that might be because as a Tulane fan, I’ve been beat about the head by these factories since the day I enrolled. But very few BCS conference teams could navigate a full SEC slate without at least two, probably three losses- and the ones I think could do two losses or better are the dozen or so that join my Top 25.

Response of the Court: The Court finds this defense compelling, and it has absolute nothing at all, whatsoever, in any manner, to do with the fact that venue for this action lies in East Tennessee.

Verdict: Not guilty.

4. On the three counts of Conspiracy: Florida, Miami, and Florida State all in the top 10:

Yes, I rank the Florida triumvirate highly- but USA today’s got the same three at 8, 10, and 11. If that is bold, then I suppose I’m shamelessly audacious.

Response of the Court: The Court notes that there is a vast difference between 3, 6, and 7 and 8, 10, and 11. Still, the expert testimony in favor of the defendant is compelling.

Verdict: Not guilty.

5. On the two counts of False Advertising: Tulsa at No. 17 and UTEP at No. 22:

As one of a few mid-major voters in this poll- which like everything college football is skewed toward the heavies- I probably threw a little too much love the mid-major’s way- including both TCU and UTEP. Fair.

* * * *

[T]here is no vote for a “Rice” or a “Temple”.

Response of the Court: The Court appreciates the defendant’s candor and loyalty. Still . . .

Verdict: Guilty, but no sentence imposed.

6. On the Cardinal Sin: Louisville unranked:

[As I said before,] very few BCS conference teams could navigate a full SEC slate without at least two, probably three losses- and the ones I think could do two losses or better are the dozen or so that join my Top 25. USC is one of those teams. Notre Dame is another. Louisville is categorically not one. Have a look at, say Vandy’s 2006 slate. Frankly, I am not sure Louisville can win at Oxford regularly- let alone Rocky Top.

So, I have West Virginia- who I think is the best team in the Big East- at 16. Accordingly, I don’t the think Louisville is better than WV- which candidly isn’t all that outrageous. And I don’t believe, yes, that the Cardinals are better than the teams at the bottom of my poll. I doubt they can beat a .500+ Big Ten team, or a depleted Oklahoma, or middling SEC team (LSU, Alabama). Hell, didn’t the Green Wave beat them this last decade? A powerful strike against my confidence in any program.

Response of the Court: Right on, brother! Wait, strike that from the record. Okay, so the SEC is tough, but Louisville not even ranked? Phil Steele has them at like, No. 3 or something. Still, there’s that pesky beyond-a-reasonable-doubt thing.

Verdict: Not guilty.

NOTE: On appeal, defendant argued a violation of his constitutional right to a jury trial. So the case has been remanded, and the Court has been instructed to conduct a jury trial instead of a bench trial.

You’re the jury — you decide. Here again are the alleged crimes against society:

  1. One count of Malicious Intent: LSU at No. 20.
  2. One count of Cattle Rustling: Texas at No. 11.
  3. Two counts of SEC Fraud: four SEC teams in the top 10, including Tennessee and Georgia.
  4. Three counts of Conspiracy: Florida, Miami, and Florida State all in the top 10.
  5. Two counts of False Advertising: Tulsa at No. 17 and UTEP at No. 22
  6. One Cardinal Sin: Louisville unranked.

Pre-season BlogPoll Roundtable: the Poll Position Edition

Saturday, August 19th, 2006

It’s the Pre-Season BlogPoll Roundtable, hosted by The House Rock Built! Call it the Poll Position Edition. Green flag!!!

1. What’s the biggest ripoff in this preseason poll? Either pick a team that’s offensively over or underrated, or you can rag on a particular voter’s bad pick (hey, we’re all adults here, we can handle it).

As Mr. Numb Existence, I’ve been charged with evaluating Mr. Bold’s defense of his “wrongest ballot,” so I’m to answer the second question with another post. As far as a team that’s offensively over or underrated, I thought that because Mr. Numb Existence’s ballot best approximated the BlogPoller consensus, I’d stick with that theme and see what everybody else was saying. Keep in mind that this is, after all, the pre-season, and the hedges were high. Most bloggers qualified their answers, acknowledging that there was a lot of room for error. (NOTE: Peter at Burnt Orange Nation is apparently averse to hedges, as he tore into Virginia Tech and any blogger that voted them in the top ten without reservation. Okay, that’s a bit strong, but it was a gutsy, but pretty fair critique, I thought. Braves and Birds responded with what I thought was a decent defense. As you can see, I, unlike Peter, like hedges.)

Anyway, and this is sure to trigger a stiff rebuke from Peter aimed at the CFB blogosphere in general, a plurality of early returns (Off Tackle, TAMU and Baseball, Statistically Speaking, and CrossCyed) are saying that Texas is the most overrated team right now, although none are saying that they are “offensively overrated.” Go ahead and add me to the list, but note the ten-foot hedges on all sides. Vince Young is gone. Yes, I know that the team was good at just about every position, and that they could realistically be expecting to be as good or better at most every position this year. I’d bet, though, that they expect to be as good or better at QB. Having a legitimate dual-threat quarterback is like having an extra offensive player on the field. If the play worked, it worked. If it broke down, the QB could run and make something out of nothing. Having Young was like having two extra players on the field. If the called play worked, it worked. If it didn’t, Young ran. But Young did more than made something out of nothing. He made something great out of nothing. Young wasn’t your typical scrambling quarterback, he was more like a shifty, strong running back with wide receiver speed, so when he ran into a defense that had broken down, he was practically impossible to stop. Bottom line, the Horns will be playing with 11 really good football players on offense. But they no longer have 13.

So No. 2 might be a bit optimistic for Texas. Then again (here comes the hedge), Ohio State has a similar problem on defense, and I’m not sure that Auburn, Southern Cal, or Notre Dame are any better. Heck, I had them at No. 3, so what exactly am I trying to say? Um . . . more data in the form of games, please! Any objections?

My wild guess as to which team is closest to “offensively overrated?” Uh, let’s go with . . . Iowa.

2. What shold [sic] a preseason poll measure? Specifically, should it be a predictor of end-of-season standing (meaning that a team’s schedule should be taken into account when determining a ranking), or should it merely be a barometer of talent/hype/expectations?

Well, the BlogPoll, of course, should be whatever the Lawgiver says it should be:

Teams should be ranked without regard to future schedules. Please don’t rank Purdue high because they miss Michigan and Ohio State this year. Teams should also not be ranked on their performance in previous years. At all times it should be an approximate ranking who would beat who on a neutral field this year.

I have to admit, though, that it was difficult for me to ignore the schedule. I mean, we really don’t know much about the teams to begin with beyond what they did last year and what they have returning, so why not add one more factor to the mix?

3. What is your biggest stretch in your preseason ballot? That is to say, which team has the best chance of making you look like an idiot for overrating them?

Again, the early returns suggest that the teams getting the most buyer’s remorse among BlogPollers are California (Off Tackle, Dawg Sports, and The Card Report), Iowa (Burnt Orange Nation, Black Shoe Diaries, and Statistically Speaking), and Clemson (The College Game, The Cover Two, and Illini Report). I don’t really see any stretches in either the composite poll or my own, but I think there’s a danger of being really, really wrong on Tennessee. They could finish anywhere between 4-8 and 12-2. No. 20 was the safest middle ground.

4. What do you see as the biggest flaw in the polling system (both wire service and blogpolling)? Is polling an integral part of the great game of college football, or is it an outdated system that needs to be replaced? If you say the latter, enlighten us with your new plan.

The two best lines I’ve seen so far on this topic come courtesy of Mountain Lair, who observed that “Humans hold grudges, and computers have no soul,” and Kyle at Dawg Sports, who, in a preemptive rebuttal to those who believe they have “the answer” to the currently “flawed” system, said, “As Dudley Moore found out in 10, fantasies are unblemished precisely because they are fantasies.”

True and true. It is precisely these “flaws,” however, that make college football so much fun. Everything is up for debate. It’s one game on one day followed by six days of discussion analyzing the last game and anticipating the next. Still, despite the enjoyment spawned by the “flaws,” there should be some degree of objectivity and some expectation that the best team will be crowned the champion when all is said and done. The answer is in diversifying your portfolio, so to speak. Put the decision into the hands of both the vengeful humans and the soul-less computers and enjoy every minute of discussing the flaws of such a system.

On the question of whether human pollsters should vote for who they think is best or on more objective criteria like wins and losses, I think it must necessarily change as the season progresses. In the pre-season, before there are any wins or losses, you have to just go on what you think. Early on in the season, subjectivity counts more, but as the more objective hard data comes in in the form of wins and losses, you can’t place what you think should have happened over what in fact did happen. If your team is beat in the national championship, your team is second best, regardless of what you think. Subjectivity can only gain sovereignty over actual results if those results end in a rock, paper, scissors scenario, such as Florida beating Tennessee, who beat Georgia, who beat Florida.

5. You’re Scott Bakula, and you have the opportunity to “Quantum Leap” back in time and change any single moment in your team’s history. It can be a play on the field, a hiring decision, or your school’s founders deciding to build the campus in Northern Indiana, of all godforsaken places. What do you do?

November 6, 2004. With the clock winding down late in the first half and the team backed up in its own territory, the offensive coaching staff opted to call a pass play instead of simply running out the clock. Quarterback Erik Ainge, who was enjoying a fine freshman season, had to chase down an errant snap. Instead of simply falling on the ball for a loss, Ainge opted to pick it up and try to make something happen. What happened was that he was sacked and awkwardly landed on his throwing shoulder. Upperclassman Rick Clausen did well leading the team through the rest of the season while Ainge healed. The play resulted in that particular malady known as the Two QB System the following year, a tendency of Ainge to panic in the pocket (of which he does not yet appear to be healed), and The Season of Which We Do Not Speak.

View from Rocky Top designated Mr. Numb Existence in pre-season BlogPoll, awaits Mr. Bold’s defense

Wednesday, August 16th, 2006

All right. Brian at mgoblog has posted the final pre-season BlogPoll. If you have no idea what the BlogPoll is, you can find out all about it here.

View from Rocky Top has won the year’s first designation as Mr. Numb Existence (the “rightest ballot”), which is pretty funny because I was Mr. Bold (the “wrongest ballot”) for my first poll last year (the second-to-last of the season). For such an inept debut, I earned this rebuke from Brian:

Mr. Bold is the aforementioned newbie The View From Rocky Top, who, um, really likes the SEC: UGA #4, LSU #5(!), Florida #6(!), Auburn #12, Alabama #14… okay. Florida State is #9, GT #11… er, okay. Perhaps the ballot entry form was excessively confusing? Perhaps the Tennessee Season of Doom has sent our newest poller into a nervous breakdown where this year never happened and it’s 1967 or something? It is the mystery. Explain yourself! Try not to say the words “Southern Speed,” lest you feel the lash of my whip!

Well, I employed the insanity defense (don’t even bother with the video — it’s buggy and really small), and I was, in fact, in the final throes of lunacy, which was understandable in light of The Season of Which We Do Not Speak.

I’m feeling much better now. Thanks for asking.

Anyway, as Mr. Numb Existence, here is my charge:

Each week the top blog on each list will be given a fancy title–”Mr. Bold” and “Mr. Numb Existence,” respectively–and politely requested to comment on their ballot. Mr. Bold is asked to convince poll voters that he is right on a team or two he has ranked strangely. Mr. Numb Existence is asked to evaluate Mr. Bold’s argument, decide whether he buys it, and declare if he will adjust his rankings accordingly next week (pending the games, of course). Should either Mr. Bold or Mr. Numb Existence be unable to participate in this exercise, the next blog on the list shall step forth into the void.

The pre-season Mr. Bold is Frank McGrath, who might have an insanity defense of his own, as he is a New York City banker who likes both chess and NASCAR and whose favorite movie is March of the Penguins. Here’s his ballot:

Ballot of Frank McGrath, Week 1
Rank Team Delta
1 Notre Dame
25
2 Ohio State
24
3 Florida
23
4 Auburn
22
5 Southern Cal
21
6 Miami (Florida)
20
7 Florida State
19
8 Georgia
18
9 Tennessee
17
10 Nebraska
16
11 Texas
15
12 Penn State
14
13 Virginia Tech
13
14 Clemson
12
15 Iowa
11
16 West Virginia
10
17 Tulsa
9
18 Alabama
8
19 TCU
7
20 Louisiana State
6
21 Oregon
5
22 UTEP
4
23 Oklahoma
3
24 UCLA
2
25 Michigan
1

Dropped Out:

Dude likes the SEC. For the sake of comparison, here is the composite BlogPoll:

BlogPoll Week 1
Rank Team PPB StdDev Delta
1 Ohio State (20) 23.3 2.2
25
2 Texas (11) 22.6 2.3
24
3 Auburn (9) 22.2 2.3
23
4 Southern Cal (5) 22.0 2.1
22
5 Notre Dame (8) 20.5 3.2
21
6 Louisiana State (2) 18.3 4.5
20
7 Florida 17.3 3.4
19
8 West Virginia 16.9 5.2
18
9 Miami (Florida) 14.3 4.1
17
10 Cal (1) 14.1 5.5
16
11 Louisville 14.0 4.7
15
12 Iowa 13.9 4.7
14
13 Florida State 12.7 4.5
13
14 Michigan 12.6 4.1
12
15 Georgia 12.0 4.2
11
16 Oklahoma 11.0 6.0
10
17 Virginia Tech 8.1 4.8
9
18 Clemson 7.4 4.2
8
19 Penn State 6.6 5.2
7
20 Nebraska 5.6 4.8
6
21 Oregon 5.2 4.3
5
22 Tennessee 4.2 4.9
4
23 Texas Tech 2.5 3.0
3
24 TCU 2.4 3.6
2
25 Alabama 2.1 3.1
1

Also Receiving Votes:
Boston College(2.0), Arkansas(2.0), Arizona State(1.9), Georgia Tech(1.3), Utah(0.8), UCLA(0.8), Wisconsin(0.6), Navy(0.5), Michigan State(0.5), Boise State(0.4), Fresno State(0.4), Northern Illinois(0.4), South Carolina(0.3), Tulsa(0.2), Pittsburgh(0.2), UTEP(0.2), Purdue(0.2), Iowa State(0.1), Arizona(0.1), Texas A&M(0.1), Rutgers(0.1), Duke(0.0), Central Florida(0.0), Toledo(0.0), Hawaii(0.0), Colorado(0.0),

Total Ballots: 59

So there you have it. Brian has done the work for us and boiled down the questions for Mr. Bold to answer:

Mr. Bold is Tulane blogger Frank McGrath, apparently the last person on earth with faith in the state of Florida. He ranks the Florida-Miami-FSU triumverate extremely high (3-6-7, respectively), but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. I wonder if the placements of LSU (20) and Michigan (24) have something to do with McGrath’s split Tulane(NR)-Notre Dame(1) fandom. Other sources of BOLD: Tennesee and Georgia in the top ten; Penn State and VaTech 12 and 13; Louisville unranked. Let’s try to keep the writhing hatred somewhat better cloaked, kids!

So Frank, Mr. Numb Existence is listening. Convince me.

By the way, I’ve updated the Animated Race to the National Championship with the BlogPoll results, if you care to have a look.

Pre-season BlogPoll: Final Ballot

Wednesday, August 16th, 2006

Okay, here’s the final VFRT initial pre-season BlogPoll. No changes from the draft.

Rank Team Delta
1 Ohio State 25
2 Notre Dame 24
3 Texas 23
4 Southern Cal 22
5 Auburn 21
6 West Virginia 20
7 Florida 19
8 Cal 18
9 Louisiana State 17
10 Florida State 16
11 Miami (Florida) 15
12 Louisville 14
13 Michigan 13
14 Georgia 12
15 Iowa 11
16 Virginia Tech 10
17 Clemson 9
18 Penn State 8
19 Nebraska 7
20 Tennessee 6
21 Oregon 5
22 Oklahoma 4
23 Boston College 3
24 Texas Tech 2
25 Arizona State 1

Dropped Out:

Preliminary Pre-season BlogPoll

Saturday, August 12th, 2006

Okay, here’s VFRT’s initial pre-season BlogPoll. Many thanks to Brian for pulling this together.

This should be a team effort from the entire VFRT community, so please comment on the poll below. I need to finalize it before 10:00 a.m. Wednesday. Here are the rules:

Teams should be ranked without regard to future schedules. Please don’t rank Purdue high because they miss Michigan and Ohio State this year. Teams should also not be ranked on their performance in previous years. At all times it should be an approximate ranking who would beat who on a neutral field this year.

Winning counts… but style counts, too. There just aren’t enough games to make a true determination of who’s number one without taking a vague impressiveness factor into account. That’s life in college football.

So, we can’t account for the schedule. We can’t rank Georgia ahead of Florida based on a belief that while Florida may beat Georgia head to head, Florida will lose more SEC games and thus place second in the SEC East.

So, best guess as to how the teams would stack up against each other on a neutral field on September 2:

Rank Team Delta
1 Ohio State 25
2 Notre Dame 24
3 Texas 23
4 Southern Cal 22
5 Auburn 21
6 West Virginia 20
7 Florida 19
8 Cal 18
9 Louisiana State 17
10 Florida State 16
11 Miami (Florida) 15
12 Louisville 14
13 Michigan 13
14 Georgia 12
15 Iowa 11
16 Virginia Tech 10
17 Clemson 9
18 Penn State 8
19 Nebraska 7
20 Tennessee 6
21 Oregon 5
22 Oklahoma 4
23 Boston College 3
24 Texas Tech 2
25 Arizona State 1

Dropped Out:

Animated Race to the 2006 National Championship

Monday, August 7th, 2006

Basketball Vols No. 18 in First Pre-Season Top 25

Friday, April 28th, 2006

FoxSports.com’s Jeff Goodman takes a stab at a way-too-early pre-season Top 25 for men’s basketball. The Vols are at No. 18 behind SEC Rivals Florida (No. 4) and LSU (No. 16).

SI.com’s post-spring, pre-season Top 25: Volunteers MIA

Tuesday, April 25th, 2006

SI.com’s Stewart Mandel has come up with a post-spring pre-season top 25 poll. The Tennessee Volunteers are not even “on the cusp.”