Daily Archives: August 1, 2007

Mandel: damning with faint praise

Talk about your back handed compliment – Stewart Mandel, in response to some Georgia fan’s “what’s he done for us lately” complaint about Richt, had this to say about the program:

I think part of the problem is that many old-school Georgia types still view arch-rival Florida as their measuring stick. Yes, it’s true, the Dawgs used to beat up on the Gators regularly in the ’70s and ’80s, but that changed in a big way after Spurrier took over Florida. (The Gators have won 15 of the past 17 meetings). Times have changed, and both because of Spurrier’s legacy there and because it’s the flagship school in the most talent-rich state in the country, Florida is now one of the elite programs nationally; Georgia is still more of a regional power. Which is not to say the Dawgs shouldn’t beat the Gators from time to time or make an occasional run at the national title, but to hold Richt or any other coach to a national-title-or-bust standard is just plain ludicrous.

I can’t figure out if he’s excusing Richt or not here.

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UPDATE: Mergz, over at Saurian Sagacity, has some carefully chosen criticism to add here.

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UPDATE #2: Michael Elkon has a few (OK, more than a few) choice words for Mandel’s piece here.  My favorite:  “This is a perfect Mandelian storm, a confluence of cherry-picking an idiotic question and then fumbling around at a response like a 15-year old working on his first bra.”

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Filed under Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles

Quoth the Zooker

You know it’s gonna be good.

From SMQ:

Leave the last word on the matter to Ron Zook:

“I think coach Paterno is just trying to give you guys something to write about,” Zook said. “Gosh, he has forgotten more football than most of us know.

Emphasis mine, because, gosh, there are so many layers of nerve-bearing truth in that statement, so much more brutal honesty than Zook could have possibly intended…the mind, it boggles…

From Orange and Blue Hue:

Speed versus speed: When Florida defeated Ohio State last January in the Fiesta Bowl to win the national title, a popular theory was that the Gators triumphed because of superior speed.

But according to Illinois coach Ron Zook, who coached in Gainesville before arriving in Champaign in 2005, the perception of Southeastern Conference teams being faster than those in the Big Ten is misguided.

“In my mind, there’s not any difference,” Zook said. “We have every bit the speed they have in the South. There’s no question in my mind this league can compete with anyone in the country (in that regard).”

Er, excuse me?  Ron Zook?

And, without commentary:

“There was a time last year when I was worried about [quarterback Juice Williams]. He was emotionally and physically drained. He hit that wall. He wasn’t smiling.”

Given Williams’ stats (and the team’s record), he probably wasn’t alone in that department.  With good reason…

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Filed under The Adventures of Zook

Some more thoughts on preseason polls (without mentioning Auburn)

In response to my post yesterday about preseason polls, a commenter questioned whether postponing the initial polls until the sixth or seventh week of the season would have any significant effect. Logic would indicate so, unless we want to believe that in fact we have just as good a picture of the college football landscape in a given year before a single snap is taken as we would after five or six games have been played by the schools.

Fortunately, we can go to the Stassen website for more concrete data on this. Stassen tracks the most overrated and underrated college football teams since 1989 by comparing their initial rankings in the preseason poll to the final polling results.

The results to my mind aren’t that surprising. The underrated teams tend to be those that generally don’t show up on the national radar until the season is well underway and their records begin to catch people’s eyes: Washington State, Oregon, Boise State (watch its numbers begin to become less unbalanced now that it’s caught public attention from the Fiesta Bowl), Louisville, etc. The overrated teams tend to be college football’s royalty: Nebraska, FSU, Southern Cal, Texas, and, of course, Notre Dame.

What that suggests is that in the preseason pollsters are lazy and tend to go with familiarity more than anything. And in many cases, that’s a poor indicator of a school’s merits as the season plays out. Again, you have to stretch logic pretty far to believe that starting the polls midyear wouldn’t produce more accuracy in the initial balloting than what you see here.

Looking at 2006, there are ten teams on the list with deltas in double digits (meaning they went up or down in the polls at least 10 slots). Half of those started or finished the year in the top 10. That’s a pretty significant disparity.

And I would argue that the larger the playoff pool becomes, the more significant the effect of preseason polling on its makeup is. Remember that the BCS now provides slots for ten schools and that a “plus one” format, using that as an example, would select the four top seeds from that group. While it may be easy to identify three obvious teams in ’04 that were worthy of playing in the MNC game, now we’re faced with the relative merits of, say, numbers 9, 10 and 11 to get into the BCS and numbers 4, 5 and 6 to qualify for the playoff. That’s not nearly so clean a problem.  Seeding could also be affected.

When you don’t have any objective standards for qualifying for whatever D-1 football considers its postseason, such as, for example, specifying that only conference champs are eligible to play in the BCS title game, it seems to me that there should be an effort made to see that the rest of the formula for selecting the participants is as fair as possible under the circumstances.

Waiting until a respectable portion of the season is under way before ranking the schools is a way to reduce the subjectivity of the selection process to some extent. That’s a good thing. The big boys already have a leg up in so many ways. There’s no need to game the system to their advantage even further.

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, College Football