Blogpoll is back folks. And now the SBNaion behemoth is hosting this, the (theoretically) most accurate poll. What makes Blogpoll superior to the AP, Coaches, or Harris polls?
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.
What's that philosophy of the Blogpoll? As the season progresses, a team's resume (and not, necessarily, where they started the season) becomes the SOLE basis for their ranking. And voters are instructed every week to start from scratch. So, last season, after watching the Texas offensive line play with pudding arms in the Big XII Championship game, many bloggers myself included jumped Texas with TCU. You don't see that sort of flexibility in the mainstream polls.
Every week before we post our ballot, we do what we call "Proofreading," where we categorize teams, but don't necessarily rank them within those categories - generally, something like, "In the hunt for the National Championship," "In the hunt for a BCS bowl," "In the hunt for a January-level bowl," and "Everybody else."
After the jump, we're proofreading the resumes of the 30 or 40 odd teams that have a shot at our preseason ballot. Give us your feedback, as our ballot is due on Monday.
Mythical National Contenders
Representing the SEC as title contenders for the third year (of course, it seems like the third decade) in a row are the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Florida Gators. And most folks are high on the Ohio State Buckeyes. In fact, I've see few projections that don't expect a little "i" dotting to happen in Glendale. Where the Boise State Broncos end up at the end of the season will depend, largely, on the performance of their non-conference foes from Blacksburg, VA and Corvallis, Oregon. Speaking of BCS busters the TCU Horned Frogs return, basically, everyone except a few cheerleaders from a 12-1 squad. And there are, of course, the inter-state rival Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners, since the winner of the Red River Shootout has advanced to six out of twelve National Title games.
Headed to the BCS?
A great deal of debate will not be about whether or not these guys are any good, but whether I should have included them in the group above. The Virginia Tech Hokies, the Pitt Panthers, and the Oregon Ducks are all favored to win their respective conferences, but I can't see them making the title game. Trendy at-large picks include the Iowa Hawkeyes, Miami Hurricanes, the Arkansas Razorbacks, the Nebraska Cornhuskers, the Wisconsin Badgers, the Penn State Nittany Lions, and (ready for the oddball) the West Virginia Mountaineers.
That Gooey Center
What do you do with teams like the LSU Tigers, the Florida State Seminoles, and the Georgia Bulldogs that you know have to have the talent to put together a run at the BCS, but haven't done anything inspiring recently? You put them right there with the Houston Cougers and Utah Utes, those mid-major teams that now have more credibility than they do hype, along with the North Carolina Tar Heels, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, and Oregon State Beavers (maybe even the Washington Huskies) that might have more hype than they do credibility. Welcome to the part of the show where half of the fan bases I just listed are going to be disappointed at the end of the season.
It Won't Surprise Me
A lot of these preseason ballots are going to look similar. That's the nature of the beast. So, it shouldn't shock anybody if the Auburn Tigers, the Clemson Tigers, the BYU Fightin' Marry-ers, Cincinatti Bearcats, us, South Carolina Gamecocks, or Stanford Cardinal find themselves back in the thick of things in 2010.
It Might Surprise You
Two teams from the Lone Star State interest me. The SMU Mustangs went out and hired June Jones in 2007 as a signal that they were finally ready to get off life support. Jones got them bowling in 2009, and I expect an offensive juggernaut like the one he built at Hawaii to be not far behind. On the totally opposite side of the football universe is Tommy Tuberville and the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Nebraska and the SEC have proven what happens when the Big XII South meets defense. I don't expect Tubbs to waste time getting Tech whipped into the exact shape he wants them.
Also, I expect the Mississippi State Bulldogs to make great strides in Year 2 under Dan Mullen.*
That's 35 teams (and Mississippi State). I'm willing to listen to arguments for others that are going to have a good season, but the bulk of the ballot will be made up of these guys.
*That's actually not true.