At least, writes Patrick Garbin, that’s the case when it comes to meeting preseason expectations.
… I decided to see how strong of a positive relationship—if positive at all—there has been between the preseason AP poll and the final AP rankings in regard to Georgia, and several neighboring schools of interest. Beginning in 1950, the initial year of the preseason AP poll, through 2016, the preseason and final rankings of Georgia and eight other often nationally-ranked teams from the South were correlated annually to reveal their correlation coefficient, or r. Simply, think of “r” as how efficient the Associated Press has been at preseason ranking each team in association to where it finishes in the AP’s final poll (whereby if r is between 0 and .200, there is a very weak positive relationship between the AP’s preseason and final polls; .200 and .400 is weak; .400 and .600 is moderate; .600 and .800 is strong; and .800 and 1 is very strong).
Ranked according to r, each team is also listed with the number of 67 seasons (63 seasons for Florida State) whereby it appeared in the AP’s preseason poll (followed by, of those appearances, the number of seasons ranked and not ranked in final poll), and number of seasons appearing in the AP’s final poll (followed by, of those, number of seasons ranked and not ranked in preseason poll).
(For example, Georgia, although borderline moderate, has had a weak relationship at .395 since 1950 in regards to what the AP ranks the Bulldogs in the preseason as it relates to where they finish in the final poll. In the last 67 years, Georgia has been preseason ranked on 35 occasions: 22 times it finished in the final poll, 13 times it finished unranked. In the last 67 years, the Bulldogs finished ranked on 30 occasions: 22 times they had been preseason ranked, 8 times they had not.
Of the nine schools he looked at, only Auburn had a worse correlation than Georgia’s, which, when you think about it, makes a lot of sense. In fact, if you shorten the term under analysis to the last ten seasons, the effect is consistent, and, with regard to Auburn, even more intensified.
I next figured the exact same as above, but for just the last 10 seasons (2007-2016) and, interestingly, found somewhat similar results with Clemson, Alabama, and Florida State all having strong relationships, Tennessee at nearly strong (.587), and Georgia (.313) and Auburn (minus-.263) again in the weak zone. This should be no surprise considering the Bulldogs were preseason ranked each of the last eight years (with an average ranking of approximately No. 13), yet finished ranked in the final poll just three times.
In Georgia’s case, I’m not too sure what that says about 2017. The Dawgs are ranked in most preseason discussions I’ve seen, but the consensus seems to relegate Georgia to somewhere in the high teens to low twenties, which is lower than the average from the past ten years, but still means the Dawgs are ranked. It’s not exactly a traditional vote of confidence, so you can draw all sorts of conclusions about what sort of omen that might be for how things turn out this season. On the other hand, we’ve seen that Vegas has shown a stronger degree of confidence in Georgia’s chances than the pundits have, so who knows where the AP goes? Take your chances, in other words.
Now that I think about it, that randomness is pretty much Patrick’s point.
(Now what that says about Auburn’s chances this season… well…)