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OBNUG Preseason BlogPoll: Yes, that's really Utah at No. 2

Thanks to blatant bribery and an embarrassing amount of begging, OBNUG has been invited to participate in the Internet's most sensible, coherent, and valid college football poll: The BlogPoll, presented by MGoBlog. And I need your help. You'll see what I mean when you look at the preseason ballot.

A couple notes before I let the world in on my schizo opinions.

  1. The BlogPoll will be posted on OBNUG every Monday morning so that readers can leave comments and suggestions on what should be changed, who should be where, and why Notre Dame doesn't even deserve to be in the Top 25. Your comments will affect the final draft of my BlogPoll submission, which is turned in on Wednesday morning.
  2. In addition to the BlogPoll, OBNUG is also participating in the Mumme Poll - an approval poll that begins in Week Six.
  3. I have enlisted the help of OBNUG reader MKingery to pretty much handle this entire poll thing for me. He has created a formula that will rank teams after a few weeks' worth of game data is available. But don't worry. He'll solicit human opinion as well.
  4. The BlogPoll voting philosophy makes a lot of sense and only has one iron-clad rule: Don't embarrass CBS Sports. To that, I say, "Define 'embarrass.'"

So without further ado, OBNUG's Preseason BlogPoll rough draft:

Rank Team
1 Florida
2 Utah
3 Southern Cal
4 Texas
5 Oklahoma
6 Alabama
8 Penn State
9 Ohio State
10 Oregon
11 Boise State
12 Texas Tech
13 Georgia
14 Mississippi
15 Virginia Tech
16 Oklahoma State
17 Cincinnati
18 Oregon State
19 Missouri
20 Iowa
21 Florida State
22 Georgia Tech
23 West Virginia
24 Michigan State
25 Brigham Young


I pulled the same stunt last year in OBNUG's Top 26 poll. My preseason poll is the same as the final AP poll from last year. As such, you will not see teams like LSU, Cal, and Notre Dame on the list. Yay! No Notre Dame!

At the same time, my poll is inevitably flawed with Utah maintaining its No. 2 ranking, Cincinnati at No. 17, and TCU still in the Top Ten. But wouldn't any preseason poll be flawed at this point?

My reasoning behind starting off the 2009 season the way the 2008 season ended is that I feel that poll value should be placed, if anywhere, on prior performance and results and not on potential, supposed strength of schedule, or hype. Reward teams for continued excellence and not for possible greatness.

Now for some commentary on preseason polls from MKingery:

There are differing approaches to how a pollster ranks teams, especially in the preseason (which makes the preseason poll even more useless).

  1. Some rank their teams on how they think the teams would match up RIGHT NOW - flawed in that no games have been played and there is so much turnover in the roster from one year to the next.
  2. Some rank their preseason poll on how they think the year will finish - flawed in that, this is the only poll during the year those same pollsters use this methodology. No one during the sixth week of the season bases their poll on how they think the next seven weeks will turn out, they evaluate the wins/losses over the prior six weeks. This method is also why voters fall in love with teams with relatively easy schedules. (see Notre Dame and Ole Miss) . Taylor Zarzour was one of only two AP voters to rank the Broncos last preseason, and he had them at 12. He also left out highly thought of teams like West Virginia. I followed his poll closely and he kept the Broncos around 12 all season while winners and losers leapfrogged BSU all year. Pollspeak did a pretty good retrospective on his ballot recently. 
  3. Some base their poll off of the final rankings from the year before. There is no other way to explain the love for Ole Miss (except for #2 above), Utah, and Oregon. One of the official BCS computer polls actually uses this method as a factor in the starting positions for its poll. I can't believe the BCS allows this.

The reality is, there is no superior process in place to create a bias free or even reasonable poll until the season is several weeks old. Combatting the fallacy of the preseason poll is important since many human voters use that as a template for the remainder of the season, only moving teams down when they lose, making it difficult for a team starting outside the poll to climb in the rankings.

The only problem with 'sticking it to the man' by making a mockery of the preseason poll is that a ballot has to be filled out after week 1. Despite some big games, there will not be a lot of conclusions discovered during the first week to make the poll much better than the preseason.

And now for some feedback from readers:

  • Who is too high, who is too low, who is just right?
  • Should I scrap this whole "final AP poll" idea in favor of something that makes sense?
  • What would your Top Ten look like?
  • Anything derogatory you want to say about Notre Dame or Ohio State?

Your opinion will help shape OBNUG's BlogPoll submission all season long, so don't be shy. And don't be Craig James. Other than that, let's hear what you have to say.