The preseason, when perception is reality.

Can’t say that I quibble much with Jeff Schultz’ premise in this post

If preseason polls are more about perceptions than reality, so be it. But perceptions are that Georgia Tech has passed Georgia on the football field…

just that I wonder how relevant it is in the vast scheme of things.

After all, he goes on to say this:

The Jackets lost four top players (Demaryius Thomas, Jonathan Dwyer, Derrick Morgan, Morgan Burnett) to the NFL but their schedule lays out for a potential 8-0 start (toughest games in that stretch: road games at North Carolina and Clemson).

Think about that for a moment.  Dwyer should be ably replaced this season by Allen, but those other three constitute (1) a wide receiver who was the most important player at his position to his team in all of D-1, (2) the ACC Defensive Player of the Year and (3) Tech’s best defensive back.  Yet, the idea that Tech, a program that isn’t exactly a recruiting powerhouse (and remember that none of the departed players were Johnson recruits, either), will march into this season with those personnel losses and not miss a beat seems to be the conventional wisdom as we sit here waiting for the first week of games to be played.

Georgia’s standing, on the other hand, is encapsulated in one handy sentence:  “That’s what a five-loss season will do to a program.” You’d think it’s worth noting that one of those five losses wasn’t to Georgia Tech, but, again, the voters don’t seem to care.

The point here isn’t to knock Tech, or whine about Georgia’s preseason ranking.  It’s just that I’m having a hard time understanding why I should care about preseason polls, other than the leg up that some programs get towards the BCS.  Which gets back to what I really have a hard time understanding – why preseason polls are allowed to exist in the first place.

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52 Comments

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52 responses to “The preseason, when perception is reality.

  1. Hogbody Spradlin

    In that same column, Paul the Johnson hit on something when he said the reason is “we won more games than they did last year.” Could we send out an APB to your stat maven colleagues to try and correlate prior year records/rankings with preseason rankings?

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      Schultz is and always has been a shill for the Techsters. The truth is if last year’s Tech team (ACC Champs) had to play UGA’s 2009 schedule Tech likely wouldn’t have even had a winning season.

  2. Brandon

    Trying to figure people like Schultz out is like banging your head against the wall, there is no sense in it because there is nothing to figure out just some inane ramblings and narry an original thought. Conventional wisdom, whether its politics, sports, or anything else may be a lot of things but it certainly isn’t wisdom, its pretty much just the groupthink of a collection of idiots.

  3. It’s good to know that Schultz is paying close attention to stuff like “perception.” Wouldn’t want him to get needlessly distracted by stuff like, you know, what actually happened on the field last November.

  4. JaxDawg

    Who cares? This stuff is just worthless bunk. Most of this preseason stuff is trash b/c it’s all based on “perception”.

    Only Steele provides the type of analysis that deserves serious consideration. Besides him, most fans know as much or more (more likely) than 9 of 10 sports writers.

  5. ChicagoDawg

    If want to be enlightened by the thought process that goes into these AP votes, I invite you to indulge in the logical workings of this guy named Coley Harvey — Georgia’s lone AP vote. He is discussed in Seth Emerson’s blog….

    http://dawg-extra.blogspot.com/2010/08/dissecting-ap-poll.html

    Also, you can get his full top 20 and capsules on each of his votes (linked below). Here is the money shot though…. “I am fully convinced this is a team (GT)that could merit BCS consideration by the end of the season.” as he ranked them 13th. He did rank UGA #20, but is wringing his hands about it…”I talked myself into believing the Bulldogs had earned this spot. Now, I’m not so sure.”

    http://www.macon.com/techtalk/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&insiteUserId=83033061-8e5f-4406-b8c9-7104c5b74798&plckPostId=Blog%3a83033061-8e5f-4406-b8c9-7104c5b74798Post%3a0026bacb-97ee-4589-a979-e22c93f258a2&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest#ixzz0xLOYN2d8

    http://www.macon.com/techtalk/?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&insiteUserId=83033061-8e5f-4406-b8c9-7104c5b74798&plckPostId=Blog%3a83033061-8e5f-4406-b8c9-7104c5b74798Post%3a0026bacb-97ee-4589-a979-e22c93f258a2&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest

    • ChicagoDawg

      Not sure what happened there…I linked the article twice and submitted to early. So, the cat who represents the state of Georgia with it’s only AP vote is not sold on UGA’s QB, presumably because Joe Cox is irreplaceable. However, he is “convinced” that the GT team that lost its top defensive performers and offensive performers will be part of the BCS discussion by year’s end. You know, the GT defense that surrendered 1/2 mile of rushing yards to the most mediocre Georgia team in 10 years.

      This folks, is how we get astoundingly stupid narratives.

      • mdr

        But all Tech has to do in order to make the BCS is win that lousy conference of theirs. So he may be right on that point at least.

        Never thought I’d say this, but I can’t wait until Miami and F$U get off their collective a$$es and take over the Almost Competitive Conference again.

  6. Chuck

    Meh. If preseason polls had any use beyond being discussion fodder we wouldn’t have to play the games. They might also make locker room bulletin board material, I guess.

  7. Castleberry

    I know I’m like a broken record on this, but early rankings seem to be based more on projected finish against the schedule than who is better than who. I also wouldn’t argue with Tech being where they are, but I hardly agree that one team being ranked ahead of another means “they’ve passed them on the field.” What would the spread be if Boise St was playing Florida on a neutral site week one? I can’t imagine Boise giving any points – in spite of the ranking.

  8. Macallanlover

    People who buy/read the AJC deserve this. Pull the plug on what is “left” of them by unsubscribing. There are many other sources of national, regional, or local news available so don’t tell me you have to have it because you live in the Atlanta metro area.

    Jax Dawg is right, there are very few writers who know more about CFB than the people on this blog.

  9. Mr. Georgia Football Returns

    Look at the bright side! Jeff Schultz is just giving you more to which you can apologize.

  10. 69Dawg

    Heard a funny quote attributed to Joe Pa yesterday. “If I ever need a brain transplant I would want to get one from a sportswriter cause I would know it hadn’t been used.”

  11. Mike

    Why are pres-season polls “allowed to exist in the first place”?

    Why not?

    IOW, what body would disallow them?

    • Prov

      Well, if they are a part of the BCS, like the coaches poll, they should be disallowed until the first BCS poll is released.

      • mdr

        Exactly. Its perfectly fine for the magazines and websites that cover the game to come out with preseason polls. However, they should not, and do not, count for anything in the BCS standings. Its retarded that the coaches release a preseason poll that has a direct effect on the season. This is exactly how the barners got screwed in ’04. You would think that the “brain trust” in charge of the college football postseason would have figured that out by now.

      • Mike

        News Flash: the AP is not part of the BCS.

        And even if it where, since the BCS ranking don’t come out till October, I fail to see why rankings “should be disallowed.”

        Shit, it is all for fun anyway. What harm does it do?

        • Prov

          Umm, I was refering to polls associated with the BCS. Please read my post above. All of the rest, including the AP, don’t mean shit. Unless you’re USC.

  12. gatriguy

    One 3 point win in the past nine years. Yeah, clearly Tech has passed us.

  13. the Coondawg

    Tech Sucks

  14. Landry Clark

    So…in August 2008, was it just as obvious that UGA had passed UF?

  15. shane#1

    Bisher had a column in today’s Albany Herald sucking up to,[ahem], Bill Curry. Unfortunately he was unable to find a spot to insert the name of BOBBY DODD,[everyone please stand and remove your hats], a legend in Furman’s mind. The more things change the more they stay the same. I am glad the Fed Ex cup starts next week so Furman can get back to writing about golf. I cut my teth on the AJC blogs when there were posters like Buck in the NW, SamoanDawg, Hunkerdown dog, Cuz, and the like. Even “enemy” posters like War Eagle, Atlanta Gator, Gen Nyland, and GT wrote stuff that was actually worth reading. Unfortunately, the AJC has gone for sensationalism to get blog hits.

  16. AthensHomerDawg

    Beat them on the field …….remove all doubt…..the rest will take care of itself. We’ve beat 3 of those 5 ranked above us last year. We can beat those three again. LSU is not in the mix so Florida is the biggest game. imho. Also, we beat USC who beat the runner up(Clemson) from the ACC. We also beat the ACC Champion. So I guess we might be considered the Champ of the ACC.
    just sayin’

  17. shane#1

    mdr, define “alive.” Ol’ Furman is still pounding out a syndicated column and is still the biggest Tech homer ever. If he sucked up to Curry he absolutely drooled all over Paul Johnson last year. I respect the man’s writing and his column on Phil’s win at the Masters was as good as any writing Bisher has ever done. I just wish he would stick to golf.

  18. No One Knows You're a Dawg

    Remember when the AJC ran a poll “showing” there were more GT fans in metro Atlanta than UGA fans?

    Thing is, the AJC’s non-sports reporting has actually improved over the last year. They were the ones who uncovered widespread doctoring of CRCT tests by Atlanta Public School officials. By any measure, its a good, important piece of investigative journalism.

    Unfortunately, the sports department has decided to go the Finebaum “page hits” route over actual journalism and consequently are being single-handedly beaten by the likes of David Hale and Seth Emerson. AJC sports doesn’t even do the “page hits” things well.

    Hate to say, but the AJC sports dept. needs new, younger blood that is accustomed to “internet speed” journalism. It is possible to do fast, accurate, smart reporting to get page hits, rather than just taking shots.

    • Ray

      You are right. As much as I dislike the AJC their reporting is much better now and not so wacko Left. They actually write much better articles with more fact and less injected opinion.

  19. Chadwick

    What I don’t understand are the wtf comments from the media crowd about Tech being better on defense. The standard line is Al Groh’s on campus and that they can’t be worse.

    Let’s face it. Groh is a NCAA washout and an NFL retread. He was hired at Tech because he was cheap, not because Johnson held an open casting call.

    The cherry ontop is that Al, the erstwhile defensive genius has a lot less talent at positions that require pure talent…DE and safety. The gargoyle that masquerades as the NATS head coach hasn’t recruited diddly on that side of the ball and it shows.
    Groh must have a fucking magic wand if that unit is going to be better because he’s somehow going to turn some turds into NFL picks.

  20. shane#1

    no one knows, Chip Towers does a very good job reporting on recruiting, but other than that AJC reports are more like op-ed pages. David Hale and Seth Emerson both started at the Albany herald, sad to say that little paper’s reports are better than the AJC’s. Why the flagship paper of the state can’t hire a David Ching or a Hale is beyond me. I am reserving judgement on Seth untill he has been there a while, but so far so good.

  21. Doug

    Seconded. Both Georgia and GT have looked lousy on defense the last couple years and made much-publicized switches to 3-4s. Yet somehow Tech’s transition is going to go seamlessly, while UGA’s will be a season-long struggle?

    The thing is, should Georgia knock off GT again this fall, Schulz (and Bradley) will be the first ones to say they knew Georgia was headed for a resurgence, and they’ll probably start writing “Is Paul Johnson hitting a wall?” columns, too, just to see how much poop they can stir up. Because that’s really all a sports columnist has to do these days — whatever happens (and no matter what you said a month ago), just act like you knew it was going to happen all along.

  22. JaxDawg

    If there was ever a scenario for disallowing pre-season polls, it’s the Auburn argument from 2004. They began the season ranked #18 or so and simply couldn’t pass an overrated OK team and got its ass spanked by USC.

    Not that I GAS about AU. Just saying.

    I do believe that AU would have challenged USC, maybe beaten them. They were VERY good that year.

    One of the problems for AU that year which was in the mind the of pollsters towards year end was the fact that USC spanked AU opening day weekend in 2003, 20-0. Having that head-to-head matchup in the back of their mind likely influenced their rankings.

    Just my .02. Oh, and F Florida.

  23. Mike

    The year that UGA posted a record of 13-1, hey lost to one team. Was Florida better than that UGA team?

    I think not.

    Head to head is an important tie-breaker when assessing how well one team did relative to another. Bu I think it is the third or fourth most important measure.

    Ga tech has earned the right to be ranked ahead of UGA this year, before the season starts. Whether they continue to earn that right as the season progresses is anyone’s guess

    • JaxDawg

      Here’s the rub – had UGa returned their starting QB, we would not be having this conversation.

      Of course it’s convenient to disregard the fact that UGa returns better units that Tech across the board.

    • The Realist

      If each team played the same schedule, then head-to-head would mean less because there would be a greater sample of results to compare. So it is easier to compare that 2002 Florida team to Georgia because they played a lot of the same teams, and Georgia won more of those comparable contests. So, despite the head-to-head outcome, it stands to reason that Georgia was a better team overall that year.

      In the case of comparing Georgia to Georgia Tech, they shared no common opponents, so head-to-head is all you have to go on. It is perfectly reasonable, therefore, to infer that Georgia at 8-5 was a better team than Georgia Tech at 11-3 last year. Georgia won, pretty handily, on the road. The difference in record can be attributed to the difference in the strength of schedule.

      And that takes us back to the great philosophical debate on preseason polling. Is it a power ranking or is it an estimation of the final results of the season? If there is an element of power ranking, I find it hard to understand how Georgia is not ranked ahead of Arkansas, Auburn, and especially Georgia Tech… three teams that Georgia defeated last year.

  24. Mike

    If we had not invented the atom bomb, we might all be speaking Japanese

    • dudetheplayer

      No, that wasn’t likely at all.

      Japan had no capacity to invade anyone by that point and had to deal with yet another superpower (USSR) potentially invading them.

      The A-bomb just ended the inevitable outcome a lot sooner.

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      More revisionist history from our resident Florida ninny. The Japanese had already lost WWII but refused to surrender. The strategy of the Japanese high command was to make the human cost of the Allied (i.e. American) invasion of Japan so high that the invasion would not go forward. Hence, kamikaze attacks on our ships, fights to the death by the Japanese troops on every island and atoll, etc. There were literally thousands of those small islands and atolls that would have had to be conquered before the war could end, not to mention the inch by inch fighting that would have taken place on the home island of Japan. The decision to drop the atom bomb was made by President Truman as a means of saving the lives of American servicemen but it also had the effect of saving the lives of Japanese servicemen, as well. Had the atom bomb not been invented the U.S. and its allies still would have won the war against Imperialist Japan, only about 100,000 more of the “Greatest Generation” would have been killed in the process. Since my father-in-law was in the Pacific for the entire duration of the war, he likely would have been killed. God bless Harry Truman. It took guts to make that decision. My Dad (who served in the Army in Europe) used to say the foregoing all the time.

      • Vinings Dog

        I am a WWII buff, and I agree with everything you said, Mayor. Now, if we could just figure out a plan for us to save Georgia victories, while keeping the game in Jacksonville, then……..

      • Mike

        Oh Jeebus. Now we are going to debate history?

        Try this out; If “if” was a skiff, we could all row home today.”

    • Hogbody Spradlin

      Mike is right that Tech deserves to be ranked higher than Georgia in the preseason poll. He gets a needle in there, but he’s right, and needles are expected.

      I don’t understand the WWII comment though.

  25. Mike

    Just as another fun site, here is the make-up of the AP poll;

    http://www.pollspeak.com/pollstalker/pollstalker.php?r=F&s=13&p=26

  26. whiskeydawg

    My brother went to Tech and before the game last year all I heard was how bad Georgia had gotten and how Tech was going to tear us a new one. After the game I don’t recall him saying much of anything, including that Tech had surpassed Georgia in football. He was too busy in the bathroom. He said he drank too much. I think he was in there crying.