The season is less than two weeks away, preseason practice is a happening thing, injuries are commonplace and predictions and hopes are on the rise, so you know what that means for the Mumme Poll, right?
That’s because we won’t be getting formally underway until after the games of Week Six are under our belts. To remind you readers what that’s all about, take a look at this post over at Burnt Orange Nation.
Why Preseason Rankings are Bad for College Football
… I firmly believe that the two teams chosen for such a playoff (or occasioanlly (sic) more than two, if my Flex Playoff proposal ever takes hold…which of course it won’t) should be chosen based on who has had the best season on the whole. Not “who would beat whom according to the imaginary game pollsters just played in their heads.” The more legitimacy Power Polling has early in the season, the more likely that legitimacy is going to seep into late-season polls and the more likely pollsters’ imaginations are going to play a part in determining who plays in the national championship game.
Second, pollsters are subject to a severe case of inertia. Wherever a team is ranked in the beginning of the year, it’s going to stay pretty much right there until it loses. So when OU and USC started the season 1-2 and Auburn started at 19 or something and all 3 went undefeated, Auburn had no chance of overtaking USC and OU because the latter two had been entrenched as 1-2 since before the season even started. This happens even with people who claim to be resume ranking (and for the record, if someone is prone to inertia, they are not purely resume ranking, despite claims to the contrary; liars!).
This is a problem that isn’t going to be completely fixed by eliminating pre-season rankings, but if you wait until mid-season or, say, after the end of non-conference play to begin ranking teams, then at least the spots in the poll in which certain teams will be entrenched are based on something only than complete conjecture and imagination. [Emphasis added.] And beyond that, it will encourage teams to schedule better non-conference games. As it is, certain teams are almost always ranked highly in the pre-season because they have lots of talent. There is no incentive for those teams to schedule tough non-conference games because as long as they win all of their non-conference games, they will remain in the same spot in the polls. But if those rankings don’t begin until after the non-conference games are played, the rankings will be based on the results thus far. And an undefeated team with a win over a good team should be (and will be, under a resume-ranking method) ranked higher than an undefeated team with wins over nothing but patsies. Essentially, the leaping off point is based at least somewhat in reality. And that has to be an improvement.
I think so, too.
Consider also this thought from MGoBlog’s Brian Cook, who is the driving force behind the BlogPoll.
… The lone spiked ballot in poll history came from Notre Dame uber-blog Blue Gray Sky after the first week of the season. Because I am stupid I deleted it, but by BGS’s own admission it was designed to highlight how silly releasing a college football poll after one week of play is. This is a perfectly fine argument to make, and one I might even agree with, but your ballot is not the place to make it.
Now granted, no school is getting into the BCS title game based on the BlogPoll, which makes it an exercise of fun rather than hard business (although Brian deserves serious commendation for taking steps to reduce the element of bias in the results), but when the guy running the show acknowledges that there may not be much of a point to the exercise early on, it certainly highlights the argument billyzane made in his post.
Of course, as Joel at Rocky Top Talk points out,
Burnt Orange Nation is going negative and slinging the mud, telling voters that pre-season polls hate America. He’s right, of course, and yet we all do them, don’t we?
So look at the Mumme Poll as my attempt to lead you not into temptation. We’ll see how well that works out.