Let’s face it, you’ve had this question on your mind like forever:
… what might the President-Elect do to make sure someone in the federal government is responsible for national policy on, and coordination of, athletics and sports?
The Secretary of Sport. Sigh.
Think the Sec would have a problem getting tickets to a sporting event?
Get your plate and don’t forget the silverware:
- This seems like an appropriate, if somewhat unusual, analogy to start off with – college football is like a good rack of barbeque ribs.
- No four-peat for Appy State, and it went down in flames losing with seven turnovers. Ow.
- The GPOOE™ can be hazardous to your health. Consult your doctor.
- Over at The National Championship Issue, Ed Gunther just shreds every argument you’ve ever seen about how much more money basketball’s postseason puts in the pockets of the BCS conferences than does football’s postseason. “It’s so easy”, my ass.
- After nationalizing the banking and automotive sectors of the economy, what’s the big deal about Congress seeking a little government intervention in the BCS? Anybody down with a playoff czar?
- When it comes to raising money for sports, there are only so many ways for a university to skin the cat. (Although Okie State has shown it could be a dead cat.)
With a regular season under its belt, it’s time to take a look at how things played out with the inaugural Mumme Poll. How well did it work and what could be improved? What follows are my answers and a few related comments and observations.
- In the context of its primary purpose, which was to find an alternate way of conducting the coaches poll that would reduce the possibility and/or appearance of bias or outright conflicts of interest on the part of the voters, I think the MP has been a success. The last regular season poll is certainly credible in terms of its rankings. It’s apparent that the opportunity to manipulate the rankings is substantially reduced with approval voting.
- To illustrate that last point, consider the most obvious situation where manipulation would have manifested itself this year: the Oklahoma-Texas debate. If a single coach wanted to arrange a vote to gain an advantage for one school over the other under the MP voting, he’d have to rank one school outside of the top five at a minimum (or, to be even more certain, leave the school off the ballot entirely). Aside from the obvious red flag that such a vote would raise, the coach would also have to count on no one else voting in a countermanding way. Consider how much easier it is under the current arrangement in the coaches poll to affect the standings; voting one of the two schools first and the other third might be enough in and of itself to make enough of a difference and it’s much more difficult to question.
- That last point is why I’m reluctant to add another tier to the voting, as some of you have suggested, in order to reduce the chance of ties at the upper end of the rankings. The finer the levels of voting, the easier it becomes for one coach/voter to manipulate the results.
- As well as approval voting handled this year’s rankings, it would have really shone with the chaos of the 2007 season. It would have been far easier to compile a top five grouping than to lay out the individual 1-5 teams.
- I’m not sure that waiting until the sixth week of the season to start the vote had much of an impact on how the rankings played out, but I am sure that it made us look much smarter as a group not having to defend a number one preseason ranking for Georgia.
- That being said, this exercise made it abundantly clear that preseason polls are a complete waste of effort. I’d love to hear an explanation as to why such and such a school is the 23rd best in the nation before a single snap is taken. It’s nothing but pure guesswork.
- Given the overwhelming makeup of our voter base, do I think there was a Georgia bias or Georgia effect on the MP? Yeah, but not in the way that you think. The Dawgs were never rated much more than a spot or two higher or lower in the MP than they were in the coaches poll over the course of the season. But what I did notice was a palpable drop in enthusiasm for voting after the Florida and Georgia Tech games.
- The other area that I thought was a clear success for this manner of voting was in its efficiency from a time standpoint. The vast majority of us composed our ballots throughout the season in less than an hour. And that doesn’t mean the votes were rushed or done with little thought. Quite the contrary. I can’t tell you how impressed I’ve been with your comments about what went into your decision making each week. All of that tells me that it’s more likely that the coaches would take their responsibility to analyze their votes more seriously under an approval voting regime like the MP than they do now. That would certainly be an improvement.
- In terms of improving the product, the biggest area of concern I’ve seen voiced by you voters has been over the chance of ties at the top of the rankings. Some of that is due to the type of season we’ve enjoyed in 2oo8, when there are a number of very good teams that have gone through the year with no more than one loss. As I mentioned above, I don’t think that introducing additional tiers into the voting is the best way to address this issue. Instead, I’m of a mind that my initial feeling that a couple dozen voters were sufficient to conduct a credible ranking of teams was unduly optimistic; indeed, I’m not sure that the number we wound up the season with was anything more than a very bare minimum. I’d be much happier with sixty-plus participants, or, even better, something approaching the 114 folks that participate in the Harris Poll. I think the greater numbers would have two effects. First, because they would increase the chance for an outlier, albeit a defensible outlier, vote, they would reduce the chance for ties. And second, they would likely increase the number of teams receiving votes.
- I also think it would be an improvement to broaden the geographics of our voters. The fact that the overwhelming majority of us were from the Southeast didn’t make much difference this year, as there was such an obvious consensus of the ten or so best schools, but in years when things are less clear, it wouldn’t hurt to have a broader perspective in the voting.
One other thing worth mentioning is how much I enjoyed doing this. I think it had an impact on how I view the game, which surprised me a little bit, but it was certainly fun to run through the analysis – and also to see how others thought about it. And as I’ve told many of you, I’m more than pleased that those of you who chose to participate enjoyed it as much as you indicated to me that you did. Assuming the enthusiasm is there next summer, I’m certainly inclined to run the MP again in 2009.
Whether you’ve been a voter or an observer, please take a minute to share your thoughts and suggestions about the Mumme Poll in the comments. And again, my sincere thanks to all of you who chose to be a part of this.