Sooner or later, they always know the score in Montana.

One of the things I took a vacation from last week was Stewart Mandel’s Mailbag, so I’m a little tardy reacting to this exercise in after-the-fact backpatting:

Georgia in ’08, Ole Miss in ’09. What team this year is most likely to be the “sexy” pick that falls far short of expectations?
— Jared, Columbus, Ohio

A little context: Georgia went 10-3 in ’08, Ole Miss 9-4 in ’09, and both played in semi-major bowls (Georgia beat Michigan State in the Capital One Bowl, Ole Miss beat Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl.) However, because the Dawgs had been touted as a preseason No. 1 team and Ole Miss as high as fifth, their seasons were considered letdowns. Yet, in neither case were people all that “surprised” by their “downfall” because most considered them “overrated” to begin with.

One question:  how does a team that “most people” consider to be “overrated” (love those scare quotes, Stewart) get voted preseason No. 1 in the first place?



Filed under Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles

18 responses to “Sooner or later, they always know the score in Montana.

  1. Mike

    He,like most writers, went with the conventional wisdom.

    Much like pre-season Florida in 2009and Bama in 2010.

    Although Florida was not terribly over rated in 2009.

    Remains to be seen about Bama


  2. heyberto

    How do teams get overrated? Did Stewart forget the massive injuries Georgia suffered? I don’t think that’s the sole reason, but it is key.


  3. Groupthink is a funny thing. I don’t really even doubt Mandel — voters probably DID think Ole Miss was overrated last year, even as they were placing them in their own top five. But once CW takes over, voters apparently just accept it instead of fighting against it.


    • Another good way of stating the case for doing away with preseason polling…


      • Macallanlover

        Alternate proposal: use Tier rankings, not specific numerical values, until the midway point in the season. That would prevent voters from getting “married” to the top picks until they have actually seen enough on the field to justify a Top 5 spot. This also allows for adjustments between tiers during the early games to help insure teams are where they deserve to be based on performance.

        For example: Tier 1 teams are those judged to be teams who will win conference championships, or land in BCS level bowls at season’s end. It could be 6-8 teams depending on the relative talent level that year, and that number could vary year-to-year based on those expected to have “elite” status. Tier 2 teams may be the next 10-12 teams that have the potential to move up to the top tier, but going into the season they seem to be a step behind and if things fall their way, they could make a run (UGA and UF this year are examples of Tier 2 teams starting the season but could win the SEC if Bama slips, or they “play up” to their max potential). The advantage of this system is that a team that begins the year as #17 under the current system could be in Tier 2 in August, but emerge in October’s first numerical poll as number 5 because of what is learned from actual play.

        Obviously this could be done today, but I feel most pollsters just will not admit they missed so far on the pre-season polls. So if they picked Texas as a Top 2-3 team, they will not let them fall far even after 1-2 losses, or be reluctant to move Texas Tech ranked #24 at the start to the Top 5 even if they beat both Texas and Oklahoma to win their division title.

        Tier rankings would be updated after each week of play until mid-October, at which time the first Top 25 poll is released. I would include a Tier 3 level to include about 20+ more teams just to make sure all teams with talent, say 40 or so, are included in the process. A team not making the best 40-45 at the beginning of the season, could slip in before the first October poll, so the process is all inclusive, and flexible. I know fans love to argue about who is #1, but I would love to see a major poll adopt this change just to admit how silly it is to declare a definitive #1 team, or Top 25, before students even report for classes in the summer.


  4. Dante

    One answer: Guilt. They all knew Georgia should’ve at least been in the national title talk the season before instead of swiped to the side by a 4 hour LSU infomercial run during the Big XII Championship Game hosted by Kirk “Who are the best two teams in the nation RIGHT NOW?” Herbstreit. Georgia made it to a BCS Bowl that year… against a Pollster darling that had no business being there. The pollsters gamed the system and screwed Georgia in the process. And they felt really bad about that so they “made it up” by massively overranking Georgia the next year. Because yeah… that helps.


    • heyberto

      Something I hadn’t considered.. thanks Dante. I guess my problem with us not getting considered for the National title isn’t that pollsters say you have to win your conference title game, its that we didn’t get a shot. Clearly, that’s our fault for not taking care of business in the SEC. But if the goal is to put the 2 best teams in the conference against each other, why not consider overall record instead of just SEC record? Now, I get that’s a loaded point relative to scheduling, but all I’m trying to say is how mixing two divergent measuring sticks – polls vs. conference records – work against each other. I think everybody would have liked to have seen a UGA v. LSU matchup that year for the SEC. But back to your point, I don’t think the pollsters gamed us so much as we never got a shot that we should have had to prove we belonged. This is the story of College Football these days, and relative to the conference championship its feeling a bit like Auburn must have felt that year they didn’t get a shot at the national title, only the rules were indisputable. I don’t care about playoff, but I do wish College Football could pick a system and stick with it, as opposed to melding the two, polls and confernce records. Get rid of one or the other.


    • Gen. Stoopnagle


      Georgia was in the talk, it was just abbreviated by prettyboy.

      I haven’t lost a lot of sleep over it because, honestly, we lost at home to a 6-6 South Carolina and by 21 to Tennessee. If it weren’t the Dawgs, then I’d be offended if a team which lost any game by 21 points and didn’t win its league got into the championship game (like I was when Nebraska and OU played w/o winning their leagues).


      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        General, that year SC got all the way up to #5 in the nation before injuries exposed their lack of depth and the Cocks took a nosedive losing 5 out of their last 6. When UGA lost to them (in a close game), the chickens were pretty good. UT was another matter.


        • Puffdawg

          “UT was another matter.”

          But it was a matter none the less. We lost by 3 touchdowns! Gen. makes a great point here. I would’ve loved for us to play for SEC as well, but we didn’t take care of business on our end to warrant complaining anbout it, IMO.


  5. Doug

    It wasn’t just January. Mandel continued to “overrate” those good-for-nothin’ Dawgs well into the offseason.

    Guess he wanted to help us raise our public profile with the all-important Montana ranchers. Swell guy.


  6. Principal B.F. Skinner

    “Yet, in neither case were people all that “surprised” by their “downfall” because most considered them “overrated” to begin with.”

    When Stewie “back-pats” himself as being the alfalfa dog of the “pre-season pick expert” pack, he is really engaging in what we (Dr. Phil fan-club members) like to call the act of “self-flaggelation,” a clinical term that can be best expressed in a tactful way by MDWM.

    My diagnosis is that he does so because someone is depleting his “creative energy.”

    The cure is that Stewie, without the need for surgery or any performance enhancing drugs, can simply overcome that problem just like other artists have:

    Lady Gaga tells Vanity Fair contributing editor Lisa Robinson that she tries to avoid having sex because she is afraid of depleting her creative energy—“I have this weird thing that if I sleep with someone they’re going to take my creativity from me through my vagina.”


    • Hogbody Spradlin

      Sounds like General Ripper. The commies want to sap our precious bodily fluids.


      • Principal B.F. Skinner

        Excellent point. While Lady GaGa may not actually know what a Communist (other than The BCS) is, what she/he/it proposes is a reverse osmosis no you’re not going to drink my milkshake nor I yours:

        “I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.”
        —General Jack D. Ripper, justifying why he ordered a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union. Note that the “conspiracy” he is referring to is water fluorination.


  7. Irishdawg

    Mandel is a cretin. Georgia ended 2007 as probably the best team in the country, and they had the majority of their talent coming back. It’s no great surprise they were preseason #1. They were then racked with injuries and played the toughest schedule in the country, still managed a New Year’s Day game, but it then became fashionable for herd-following sportswriters like Mandel to declare them “overrated”. He’s a hack and a silly git, so of course he gets to work for Sports Illustrated, the same publication that hires Peter King.


  8. I think we would all freak out if they got rid of pre-season polls. Can you imagine watching an opening weekend game without those little numbers to the left of the team names? No fun for fans of the lower ranked teams to stun the higher ranked teams. They really are just fun numbers until midseason, and I think they are adjusted relatively well by then. Win all your games and play in the big game. (TCU/Boise State, I know. Get a better conference, sorry)


    • heyberto

      Eh.. I don’t really see the big deal. ESPN would probably freak out though trying to decide how to promote certain matchups..


  9. Hobnail_Boot

    Thanks for the question, douche from Buckeyeville.