23 August 2010

Better Than AP and Coaches Polls? You Bet!

(From RealClearSports)

The AP Poll has been around forever, well, OK, since 1936. The USA Today/Coaches Poll is now attached to the BCS's crystal ball. But in all honesty, neither poll can measure up to the BlogPoll in terms of fairness and expertise.

The BlogPoll? What the heck is that, you ask.

It's conceived by Brian Cook, the uber-blogger proprietor of MGoBlog (a Michigan blog, if you must). It has, over the past few years, become part of the conversation in the college football landscape. The BlogPoll is voted on by some of the most respected and knowledgeable bloggers who cover the sport. After being part of CBS Sports the past few years, the BlogPoll is moving over to SB Nation this year.

The BlogPoll voters care more about their votes and bring more expertise to the ballot than your average AP and coaches poll voters, and here's why: Most AP voters - college football writers and broadcasters - usually spend their Saturdays covering one game while dozens others pass them by. The coaches, meanwhile, couldn't care less about any other game going on out there other than the ones they're coaching themselves.

I should know. For the better part of the 1990s, I covered Cal and the Pac-10. I spent every game day Saturday stuck in the pressbox either in Berkeley or some other Pac-10 outpost. If I was lucky, maybe I'd catch a glimpse of another game or two on the pressbox TV. The coaches saw even less. I've been asked by coaches at press conference about what happened at this-and-that games so they could scribble something down before handing it off to a gofer to fax in their votes.

But these days, I spend Saturdays in front of my 55-inch HDTV with my MacBook handy for streaming videos. I miss nothing. My wife and kid know this is my religion (I used to belong to the Church of the NFL, but have since converted) and my devotion is not to be messed with. Not to mention as the self-anointed BCS Guru, it's my business to know what's going on.

So when Brian offered me a vote in the BlogPoll last year, I happily accepted. And this year, I'll share my weekly ballots with RealClearSports readers here at RCS Sidelines:
* For this season, I have developed a dynamic rankings system, which in many ways removes idiosyncratic human biases. But the secret sauce for the system will remain under wraps for the time being, as I work out any potential kinks.

* As per the spirit and guidelines of the BlogPoll, the voters reserve the right to radically change the ballots from week to week. Especially from the preseason, when we have not seen a pass thrown or a tackle blown. Don't get all suspicious when you see wild swings in my ballots from week to week. It's supposed to happen.

* USC, on a two-year NCAA bowl ban, is banished from the coaches poll but not the Associated Press poll. Since the BlogPoll does not sanction any team, the Trojans will be eligible to be on our ballots. They can even finish No. 1 at the end of the season, just as they can still claim the AP title, as Oklahoma did in 1974 while on NCAA probation.

* My system does take the BCS into consideration. With the exception of USC, my preseason ballot does convey a degree of probability in terms of a team reaching the BCS title game. So the top of the ballot tells you that I project Ohio State and Texas to meet in the BCS national championship game.

* Eleven other teams were also considered but didn't quite make it onto the ballot. In order: Navy, Oregon State, Miami (Fla.), LSU, Florida State, Connecticut, Auburn, Clemson, Ole Miss, Arizona and Washington.

No comments: