Pretty much anyone who follows college football on the Internet – someone needs to ask Mandel if they have broadband in Montana – is aware that the initial preseason BlogPoll is out.
While I’m not a fan of preseason polls, I can’t help but admire the way in which BP voters go about their business. It’s an open process where the participants invite feedback about their initial impressions. There’s a transparency about it all that’s refreshing (compared to what’s described here, especially so) . And in the course of that we get treated to copious amounts of analysis, post-analysis analysis, intuition, self-recrimination, defiance (I like his style, though) and the occasional bout of delusional thinking.
But for all that, in the end what we didn’t get was a different #1 and #2 from what the coaches and the AP polls came up with. Which is a little amusing, but more significantly is a reminder as to what’s flawed about preseason polls.
If you look at the talent and the statistics it generated, LSU was probably the best team in college football last year: for starters, four 2007 first round NFL draft picks, including two of the top six; first in the SEC in eleven (!) team statistical categories, including total offense, total defense, scoring offense and scoring defense.
Nationally, the Tigers were third in total defense, eleventh in total offense, ninth in scoring offense and fourth in scoring defense. No other school in the country came close to matching that (for comparison, MNC Florida was 6th, 19th, 23rd and 6th, respectively, in those categories). All of that accomplished in the conference that even noted SEC-hater HeismanPundit acknowledged was the strongest in the country last year. Quite impressive.
Yet LSU, with two losses, didn’t even get to the SEC championship game, let alone the BCS title game. And here they are now, back near the top of the preseason heap. Sure, they’re very talented and they’ll contend to win the SEC. So what? Is there something about LSU’s situation this year that’s different from 2006? If not, why are they at #2 in all of the preseason polls?
Mainly because they look so good on paper. It’s guesswork. Voters don’t have any real world outcomes to hang their virtual hats on as to any (probably valid) misgivings they may have about the ability of Les Miles to lead LSU to the promised land, so they leave LSU up high, almost by default.
Don’t get me wrong. Maybe this is the year that LSU gets over the hump and doesn’t lose any 7-3 games. But why not wait until October, and we’re five or six games into the season’s schedule, to see what the Tigers have really got going for themselves? LSU’s schedule through October 6 – Mississippi State, Virginia Tech, Middle Tennessee State, South Carolina, Tulane and Florida – should give both us fans and the voters that impact the BCS a pretty good idea of its mettle by then.
Patience is a virtue.