Note: Clicking a team link in this blog will show you how everyone voted for that team. Clicking a voter name link will show you their ballot.
There were some surprise changes to the AP Voters this week. As we reported last week, Tom Hart of the Big Ten Network was being replaced by Dave Curtis of the Sporting News. However, Curtis was unable to vote and was immediately replaced by Brett McMurphy of AOL Fanhouse. USC fans might be most upset since McMurphy is one of only three voters to leave the Trojans off his ballot. Also, Scott Carter of the Tampa Tribune was replaced by Greg Auman of the St. Petersburg Times this week.
Scott Wolf is this week’s most extreme voter. He gives Texas their lone No. 1 vote but seems to think very little of the Big Ten, ranking Ohio State, Iowa , Wisconsin and Penn State (unranked) lowest in the nation.
Some people scoffed at Joe Giglio when he ranked Boise State No. 1 in his preseason poll. Now, after the Broncos victory against Virginia Tech, more people are jumping onto the blue bandwagon. Eight voters this week have Boise State ranked No. 1. One of those voters, Jon Solomon, thinks so highly of the Broncos that he still ranks Virginia Tech No. 5 after the loss. The strangest thing about Boise State’s eight No. 1 rankings, however, is that Joe Giglio isn’t one of them!
Giglio dropped Boise State to No. 2 in favor of the more conventional choice, Alabama. Maybe the Broncos weren’t convincing enough in what was essentially a road victory over a top-ten team. Maybe they also needed to throw down with James Hetfield during “Enter Sandman” to keep Giglio’s respect. (My apologies to those who clicked on James Hetfield’s name expecting to see his ballot. Unfortunately, the lead singer of Metallica is not an AP Voter.)
Wade Denniston had the opposite reaction to Oklahoma, whom he ranked No. 15. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, except that he ranked the Sooners No. 25 in his preseason ballot. There was nothing wrong with his preseason ranking of Oklahoma either. The Sooners were unranked at the end of the 2009 season, so a No. 25 ranking is justifiable. The area of concern is the jump from No. 25 to No. 15 after Oklahoma struggled mightily at home against Utah State. While the average ranking for Oklahoma dropped from 7.6 in the preseason to 10.72 this week, Denniston gave the Sooners a 10-spot jump.
Some might think he simply has newfound respect because Utah State is located in Logan, Utah…and Denniston writes for the Logan Herald-Journal. However, checking his blog on the subject, it seems he may be caving to pressure from the fans. Mr. Denniston, if you feel Oklahoma should be ranked No. 25, I implore you to stand your ground until the Sooners do something to change your mind (as long as you have done your research and stay unbiased.)
Look at Scott Wolf. He’s been making “crazy” picks (according to fans) for years. He could use your pile of e-mails as a base camp for the mountain he gets. And yet he continues to climb his ever-growing mountain as this week’s most-extreme voter. Being a long-time AP voter takes thick skin. Football coaches are notorious for having thick skin, and even they don’t have the guts to release their ballots every week.
Voters could have had an interesting dilemma with North Carolina this week. It is pretty easy to leave the Tar Heels unranked since they now have a loss, but even if they beat LSU (and they almost did), voters would have considered dropping the Tar Heels due to their off-the-field problems. It’s unlikely that any voter would have ranked North Carolina in their preseason poll if they knew the Tar Heels would lose a dozen players to suspension. So even if they won against LSU, some voters would have likely dropped them until the suspensions were lifted. As it is, 14 voters still rank the Tar Heels. Meanwhile, the fact that LSU barely won vs. North Carolina’s second and third stringers didn’t seem to hurt LSU in the rankings. The Tigers picked up 6 new voters and jumped from 21 to 19 overall in the AP Poll.
Before I wrap up, let me give my annual explanation of how Sagarin Ratings work in Pollstalker and the BCS. While you can find the Sagarin ratings on the USA Today site, the problem is that they aren’t listed in the format used by the BCS. Instead, the BCS uses the column called “ELO_CHESS” and also ignores any FCS (1AA) teams on the list. So the best way to view the Sagarin ratings for BCS purposes is using Pollstalker. By the way, there would have been three FCS teams in the Sagarin top-50 this week including the two major upset-ers: No. 33 Jacksonville State (defeated Mississippi), and No. 32 North Dakota State (defeated Kansas).
The polls go back to their regular schedule next week with Sunday releases. We’ll learn a lot this Saturday with huge games between ranked teams like Miami vs. Ohio State, Florida State vs. Oklahoma, Penn State vs. Alabama, and Georgia vs. South Carolina. The computers might even start to make more sense after this weekend. Regardless, it will be a great Saturday for watching football and a great Sunday for watching polls.