Whither the Mumme Poll?

With the Coaches Poll being reduced to a sideshow irrelevancy (easily the greatest by-product of the new postseason format), Tidefan and I thought we’d take stock of where things stand with the Mumme Poll.  There is a temptation to declare victory and call it a day – I think we’ve proven that approval voting is a credible way to assemble a top twenty ballot while reducing the appearance of bias and conflicts of interest as well as making the ballot process much less time-consuming – but I’d like to believe there’s a way to keep the MP relevant in the new playoff era.

Specifically, what I’ve been contemplating is using approval voting not to put together a rankings list, but instead to create a semi-final pool.  Could a random group of college football fans put together a four-team group that would be as worthy of respect as what’s going to come out of the sausage factory selection committee process?  I don’t know, but I thought it might be fun to try.

So here’s what I’ve come up with:  cut the ballot size from ten to eight, drop the tiebreaker and let approval voting determine the top four schools.  It’s even more streamlined than what we’ve done over the past few years.

Anyway, I’d like your feedback on this.  We’re a little disappointed in the drop off we saw in participation this past season, so among other things, I’m looking for ways to generate a higher level of interest.  Give me your thoughts in the comments.


Filed under Mumme Poll

39 responses to “Whither the Mumme Poll?

  1. I have not been an active MP participant, but after reading all the crazy rules/non rules of how the committee is going to conduct itself, it sure seems like the easiest way to determine the participants would be to use a MP format.

    Each member of the committee submits their top 4………and the top 4 vote getters are in.

    If there’s a tie for the 4th spot, all members revote, selecting only one of the teams that’s tied, and the top vote getter is in.

    There would have to be some tie breaker if two teams remained tied for the 4th spot, I don’t have a good idea for what that would be. But somebody smarter than should be able to come up with something that makes sense.

    Then once the 4 teams are selected, the only really hard part for the committee is seeding of the 4 teams.

  2. Great idea, but i think instead of cutting the teams to eight, to expand it to twelve, especially since what you are trying to come up with is essentially an expanded group of 2 finalist to 4 semifinalists. And it may make filling out brackets a bit faster for those who agonize over leaving a few fringe teams out, especially in the first half of the season.

    As far as suggestions on encouraging participation, i would just suggest expanding the voting base and pitch it to other sports blog sites to see if they’d like to get involved like the SEC Power Poll. Maybe see if you can put the ballot on this site itself instead of just a completely separate website (lazy internets), don’t know if its really feasible/practical but that may help.

    Just a few humble thoughts. Eviscerate me below

    • I’m not gonna eviscerate you, but the reason I want to shrink the ballot is because we’d no longer be trying to assemble a top twenty list. We just want to wind up with the four best teams. The fringe teams aren’t going to matter.

      • Gotcha so the secondary goal of putting together a legitimate top 25 is no longer part of your concern, makes sense then for it to be just 8.

      • Gravidy

        Is there anything magic about the number eight, Senator? I’d be tempted to make it even smaller. I would really want to de-emphasize the fringe teams as much as possible.

        • It’s something I may tweak over time, but given that so many people insist that a properly sized playoff field should include eight teams, I thought I’d start there and see where it takes us.

          • Dawgaholic

            Need at least 8 for approval voting, natural bias may make some think #3 is # 5 or 6. Takes a lot more to think that team is # 9.

  3. Reipar

    I am not sure we can say we proved anything last year with the mp. We ended with about 17 voters. Not much of a sample size to prove anything.

  4. Newt

    I think the drop in participation as the year went on probably was tied to UGA’s disappointing season. I’m pretty sure most of the voters come via this site. Dropping to eight teams would make it much easier as the year went on. I constantly found myself knocking out 7-8 teams in about a minute, then taking the rest of the time picking my last two teams out of a pool of 5 or 6. I think it’s a worthy exercise to put the MP up against the selection committee to see how politics, regional bias, etc affect the process.

  5. My graduate assistant really slacked off in terms of getting my ballot done this season. I apologize for that.

    Glad to hear the MP may stick around for the new era. The new format (for both the post-season and the actual poll) may generate enough interest to see a necessary spike in active participants.

    Don’t recall what the numbers of total voters were before last season, but I remember seeing many tweeters, bloggers, bookfacers spread the word to expand the pool as wide as possible. In the very least that can be done again.

  6. TomReagan

    I kept up better this year than last. Your weekly posts of your ballot process reminded me to fill out my own ballot many weeks.

    I like the new idea.

  7. Reipar

    I am curious what the bcs standings looked like after conference championships v the mp. Was there any real difference between the two?

    • Nothing huge… in fact, we’d ranked Michigan State higher than the BCS had before the Big Ten championship, so that kind of aligned.

      • Reipar

        I guess that leads to the question if the mp was really any better than the bcs formula? Did we simply use a different formula to replicate the same result or were we biased by the existing methodology which skewed our results into being the same as the bcs?

        • I think you’re confusing the process with the results a bit. I never promised we’d see a radically different list of teams. What I was hopeful of was that it was possible to construct a vote that would be easier for participants to complete and that you could achieve more credible results by reducing the elements of bias and conflicts of interest.

          I agree that last year’s small voter pool probably meant a greater chance of regional bias creeping in. But we’ve had prior years with participation in the hundreds and I believe that approval voting does reduce its effect.

          And in any event, I don’t think anyone can question how much easier it is to cast a Mumme Poll ballot than to construct a list of the top 25 teams in the country in order.

          • reipar

            But is it more credible if it produces virtually the same results, or is that an affirmation that the bcs process was credible? I am not sure we can definitely say it is easier than 25 given the drop out rate. Personally I spent quite a bit of time on my mp ballot. I would think a top 25 would only be slightly longer as while there are more teams you do not get to the cutoff as quick. The anguish over 2 or 3 teams being included is just moved back, but is still present in both polls.

            • Again, I think you’re a little off target here. The MP wasn’t meant as a substitution for the BCS, but for the Coaches Poll.

              And if it takes you just slightly longer to compile a properly researched ordered top 25 then it does to pick the ten best teams, my hat is off to you, sir.

              • Reipar

                I am pretty sure the vast majority of people were ranking the 10 best teams in order. Why else would two teams lose to unranked teams and one drop out of the mp and one stay in? I mean surely even you thought Clemson was “higher ranked” in your head than asu when/if you voted both teams into your top 10. If the majority are ranking the top 10 then is there really that much of a time savings?

                • I can’t speak for anyone else, but I sure wasn’t voting that way. If you noticed, my ballots always appeared in alphabetical order. It was a rare occasion when I couldn’t finish my vote in less than 30 minutes. A full blown top 25 in order? No way I get close to that.

                  • reipar

                    I cannot speak for anyone, but myself either. However, the evidence does appear that a lot of people were ranking the teams in their head. I am not really sure how someone could vote a top anything without having an idea of who they thought was good and who was really good. I mean how would you know who to drop out completely v just move down after a loss. Conversely, how would you know if a team not ranked had a quality win or beat a good (v great) team at home? I certainly did not complete my first ballot in 30 minutes, but after that (since I had a top 10 in my head) it became much easier to move teams around and vote much quicker. I also doubt any AD employee is spending over 30 minutes on the coaches ballot😉

                    • I don’t see how people ignoring the rules of how to vote means that the process is just as slow.

                    • reipar

                      “I don’t see how people ignoring the rules of how to vote means that the process is just as slow.”

                      Sorry Mayor, but not following? Which people?

                      As an aside I had to post this up here as there is no reply button on your last comment.

                    • The MP was set up for a voter to pick the ten best teams, but not rank them (except for the tiebreaker). You’re telling me that despite that, you made your selections in order and that as a result it took almost as much time as it would to compile a top 25 ranking.

                      Well, as I used to ask my kids when they did something the wrong way, who told you to do that?😉

                    • reipar

                      Now I am completely confused? You are telling me you were able to pick your top 10 without determining who the last team in was? And how did you determine who would be bumped if you added a new team? I know that when I had Louisville, ASU, and Wisconsin with only one spot available I had to figure out which one of those teams was the best of the three. Also early in the season I really had to figure out who was 8, 9, and 10 if I had a new team I wanted to add. Kinda of have to know who to drop out before you add someone, which means determining who is best and worst amongst those 3 teams.

                      Based upon watching teams get dropped out after a loss and other times not get totally dropped (ie OSU, Bama, Baylor, etc) I am pretty sure I was not alone in figuring out who was good v great. That is a ranking. Maybe that is why so many people dropped as they were not able to come up with a top 10 teams without determining who the bottom teams were.

                    • There’s a big difference between figuring out which team is worthy of the last spot and deciding which team should be fourth… or fifth… or sixth.

                      I’d say 80-90% of my time on each ballot was spent figuring out the tenth vote. If I understand you correctly, you were agonizing over every spot on your ballot the same way every week.

                    • reipar

                      I was able to choose one very easily (even thought it turned out I was wrong at the end of the year). After that I had an idea of my next 4 to 5 teams every week so no time lost there. However, the last couple teams in and the last couple teams out were where most of my time was spent. I guess that is why it took me longer than you and maybe others were running into the same thing. That could be the reason for the high drop out rate. None of us were able to fill out our mp ballot the way you did so it was taking more time then they had. I likely took it more serious than the coaches who fill out their ballot🙂

  8. JasonC

    Maybe Bill Hancock can refer some high integrity people to the MP who actively monitor specific regions, the broad spectrum of college football and protect the ‘Murican way… all while being transparent.


    How about just submitting a top 4?

  10. Dawgoholic

    As a participant most weeks and viewer of the Mumme Poll, I think that instead of a tiebreaker for one team that there should be tiebreaker points for the top two teams.

    Tiebreakers for the top 2 will likely help with gridlock and make it more likely there is a consensus on the top 4. I also think having two tiebreakers will help with bias. For example, there could be a rule that any ballot that does not include in the top 8 a team that is in the top 2 of 80% (or pick another number around that amount) of the other ballots is automatically disqualified.

    Instead of the view espoused by some that the point of the playoff is to give the top 4 teams a shot, I think the point should be to make sure the best team gets a shot. Any team that legitimately could be considered 1 or 2 should get a shot. Teams that are clearly 3,4,5, or 6 should just be happy to be in the conversation if they can’t make a legitimate argument to be 1 or 2.

  11. AusDawg85

    Just a guess, but the MP was a bit more interesting when there was more online conversation and challenges of some questionable votes. This year, there seemed to be a lot of alignment with the national polls and BCS. Less controversy makes it less interesting, perhaps.

    Good idea on the change as I suspect controversy will come back as a wider number of teams will be voted into the 6 – 8 slots and then more passion/discussion/interest in the team that gets position #4.

    The only other issue is where is the best place to post those debates. Not sure the MP site is ideal for the dialogue…much more interesting POV’s posted here at GTP and other participating sites. Might want to rethink the structure/purpose of how the MP site should be used?

  12. Will Trane

    Had no idea how the Mumme Poll was compiled and conducted. Always thought this was your selections. A power poll comprised of the top 3 teams from the top 4 conferences plus 4 at large either within or outside those conferences. The power 16 teams. Last 2 weeks move to brackets with only 8 remainingThen on the side ask Ms Rice to review it each week.

  13. Macallanlover

    I like slimming it down to eight, makes the truly biased picks more recognizable and concentrates the votes on deserving teams. Additional slimming seems too severe to include diversity of thought of who might be on the edge of breaking through as we approach the end of the year.

    I also think the idea of linking to other blogs to spread knowledge of “approval voting” as a viable concept. Perhaps a well run “top blog”, or two, from each major conference would insure enough of a balanced sample size and grow the idea you have been fostering.

  14. hunkerdowndawg

    I will be honored to participate in your poll however you determine it to be formatted. Do you think you need to list 8 teams per ballet to select the top four? Could you achieve that result by listing six teams? However it goes, I hope you will recieve enough support from fans to have enough data for statistical significance. Thanks for including us.

    • Honestly, I don’t know if eight is the sweet spot for this. My guess is that if the voter pool swells up again, it’s probably larger than we need. But I’d rather start out on the high side than start too low.

  15. Bulldog Joe

    I should have taken Hal Mumme’s downsizing to NAIA Belhaven College as a sign of things to come.

    Downsizing the ballot makes sense.

  16. Clay Shentrup

    Each member of the committee submits their top 4………and the top 4 vote getters are in.

    Noooooo! This is at-Large Plurality Voting, and it is horribly susceptible to vote splitting and tactical voting. You want Approval Voting.

    You could even use Proportional Approval Voting, if the idea is to represent diversity of opinion in a systematic way.

    Even better would be Score Voting.

    You can do the same proportional modification as with PAV.

    Clay Shentrup
    Co-founder, The Center for Election Science