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Blogpollin’: Preseason

OverThePylon, the resident Ball State experts (read: the only Ball State blog on the web) is fortunate and honored to again be included in the BlogPoll.

What is the BlogPoll?

The BlogPoll is structured exactly like the AP and Coaches’ polls, except the voting members are active bloggers who write about college football.

How does it work?

Voters submit a draft ballot on Monday that they post on their site. They then solicit feedback from their readers and submit a revised ballot early Wednesday. These ballots are then compiled into the poll Wednesday afternoon.

How is the BlogPoll different from other polls?

A few different ways.

One: By virtue of their tendency to sit around and watch 12 hours of college football every weekend, BlogPoll voters are often better informed than mainstream media members, most of whom spend their Saturday obsessively covering one particular game, or coaches, who all obsessively cover one game.

Two: All votes are totally transparent. The poll makes a point of calculating various poll statistics so it can examine outlying ballots (especially those that are biased in favor of the home team), and asks voters to justify their stranger picks.

Three: The BlogPoll has an explicitly declared poll philosophy that voters are directed to follow. Not every voter and every ballot manages to do so, but the philosophy effects the poll as a whole. This usually manifests itself in a skepticism of teams that play very weak schedules. The 2007 Hawaii team, which cruised through its regular season and was crushed by Georgia in the Sugar Bowl, is the most obvious example.

Why should I care about any of this?

As the poll has developed it has shown a flexibility mainstream polls have not. In 2009, for instance, ownership of #1 passed to and from Florida and Alabama. Before the SEC championship game voters settled on Alabama, whereupon they were proven correct by events on the field. Though the debate was academic because the two teams would meet at the end of the season, there are plenty of occasions when hotly debated teams don’t meet on the field. Conventional polls seem to adhere to the idea that if you’re #1 you stay #1; the bloggers are more responsive.

As for voting philosophies, there are a couple general schools of thoughts. Some will be straight resume rankers. So for the traditional power schools that schedule light and easy cupcakes to start the season, they won’t sniff some members’ ballots. Others look more toward power rankings and who they deem to be the “best”. OTP is a little from column A and a little from column B, as are many others in the poll. To start the year, these preseason rankings are not necessarily power rankings in the truest sense of the word. Instead, they are our evaluation of a team’s potential, their chance of success, and how we think their season will play out. That’s our starting point, but it isn’t the end all be all. Preseason polls are by nature wildly speculative, and no way is any better than the others.

As the season progresses, at least for the first few weeks, it is still our evaluation of a team’s potential, talent, and appearance. As the weeks roll on, though, it becomes more and more about resume ranking, evaluating the actual wins and losses on the field. It’s worked well the last couple of years, and it’s something we’re proud to be a part of. Ultimately, our ballot is only our opinion. Disagree? Think we’re crazy? Comment away and make your case for why Team A should be ranked ahead of Team B. That’s what makes it all so special.

OTP’s Preseason Ballot
As stated above, wildly speculative. You’ve been warned…

So there we have it. For me, this season ultimately shapes up as the story of the chosen one and then the rest with some pretty defined tiers to that “rest’ group. Alabama is clearly the choice for success this season, and despite their defensive losses, the Crimson Tide seem head and shoulders above the rest of the country. From there, it’s a collection of teams with the players, schedule, and talent to challenge. Boise State, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and TCU all stand a chance of having the opportunity to play for the national title without shocking anyone.

The next batch of the Top 10, Nebraska, Florida, Miami, Iowa, Wisconsin will all need someone (or multiple someones) to stumble. Possible? Of course. Probable? Doubtful. The remainder of the poll, from 11 to 25 could literally all be switched and flip flopped and it wouldn’t raise many eyebrows or make any less sense than we have above. From preseason to the end of week 1 will show wild swings and tremendous movement. Take a good look at the above rankings… they aren’t going to last long. Comment away with your kudos, thoughts, or suggestions. Go easy on us… it’s still August.

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