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BlogPoll Roundtable #1

In addition to voting in the BlogPoll, one of the responsibilities of pollsters is to participate in the roundtable discussions. Basically one of the pollsters comes up with a series of questions to ask and we answer them on our blog. The idea behind it is that through open discussion, we will all become better voters. The first roundtable of the 2006 season is hosted by The House Rock Built.

1. What's the biggest ripoff in this preseason poll? Either pick a team that's offensively over or underrated, or you can rag on a particular voter's bad pick (hey, we're all adults here, we can handle it).

There are too many question marks about too many teams this year for me to really feel I can point  anywhere specific on this poll and say a particular team is criminally out of place. I think some things are a little screwy at both the top and bottom of the BlogPoll, but not so much that I'm particularly inclined to feel incensed about it.

So, that means I'm going to go the other way and look at a single voter's ballot. Frank McGrath's ballot puzzles me for several reasons.

I know he's a Tulane fan, which requires an automatic hatred of LSU, but I just don't see them at #20...and especially three spots behind Tulsa. Tulsa is a solid mid-major team. I saw them beat UCF in the CUSA championship game in person last year and thought they turned in a good season, but it wasn't that good.

I also have a hard time believing UTEP would beat any of the three teams ranked below them (Oklahoma, UCLA, Michigan), especially after seeing them get absolutely hammered in the GMAC Bowl by Toledo last year. Mike Price has obviously improved things in El Paso, but I don't think he's improved them that much yet. And no, my comments don't have anything to do with his fiasco at Alabama. I don't have anything against the guy and even occasionally enjoy wondering, "what if he were still at Alabama?" seeing the turnaround he's orchestrated for UTEP.

Oh yeah, he doesn't have Louisville ranked either.

That being said, I'd like to thank him for his #18 vote for Alabama...which is higher than I ranked them.

2. What should a preseason poll measure? Specifically, should it be a predictor of end-of-season standing (meaning that a team's schedule should be taken into account when determining a ranking), or should it merely be a barometer of talent/hype/expectations?

I don't think preseason polls should exist, but that's not what the questions is about so...

I'd have to say that I lean more towards where I think they'll end up. After that first week of play though, the thinking should shift to performance.  I think the first several weeks of a poll should see a lot of movement, even if all of the top teams are winning. Basically, if Texas were to barely scrape by North Texas and USC hangs another 70 on Arkansas, you should reconsider if you have Texas ranked higher. Ideally, I would rather ballots not be cast until after Week 4.

3. What is your biggest stretch in your preseason ballot? That is to say, which team has the best chance of making you look like an idiot for overrating them?

Putting Ohio State at #1. There's a slip up in there somewhere for them after losing so much of their defense. Who knows though, if it comes early enough they can maybe play for the #1 spot with one loss. This year may be another 2003 where there's multiple one loss teams trying to stake a claim to play in the BCS title game.

4. What do you see as the biggest flaw in the polling system (both wire service and blogpolling)? Is polling an integral part of the great game of college football, or is it an outdated system that needs to be replaced? If you say the latter, enlighten us with your new plan.

Mike Shula is the new Rodney Dangerfield...he gets no respect.

The fact that they're subject to favoritism, prejudice, ego-tripping and everything else under the sun that shouldn't determine the champion of a sport is their biggest flaw.

I'm sure every fan of every team on earth believes what I'm about to say to be true of their team as well, but I sincerely believe Alabama to frequently be a victim of pollster prejudice. I could point to a million instances of things happening to the Tide in the polls that baffle me that I don't think would happen to a Penn State, USC, Notre Dame, Miami, Ohio State, etc. One example from last year is the fact that a one loss Miami jumped Alabama in the AP poll even though the Tide were 9-0. Miami's loss came to FSU (who had two losses at the point the 'Canes hopped Bama) and I don't think other marquee teams would've been similarly punished. It all worked out in the end because both teams went on to lose two more games, but had they not, would a 10-1 Miami have gone to the BCS title game over an 11-0 Alabama if Texas or USC had a loss? (Yes, I know both teams would've had to play conference championship games, but that's not really the point.)

That being said, what can you realistically replace polls with? Playoffs are kind of bunk because they can reward a lesser team on a 3 game hot streak (if they went with the oft mentioned eight team playoff) somewhat negating the regular season. I certainly wouldn't want to see college football shift to the mentality of "Well, one loss will still probably get us in the playoffs." Yuck.

5. You're Scott Bakula, and you have the opportunity to "Quantum Leap" back in time and change any single moment in your team's history. It can be a play on the field, a hiring decision, or your school's founders deciding to build the campus in Northern Indiana, of all godforsaken places. What do you do?

I would've fired Athletic Director Bob Bockrath probably. He is supposedly the reason that Coach Gene Stallings left Alabama even though Stallings said he retired for "family reasons." The fact that Stallings didn't rule out a return to coaching and said he was interested in becoming Alabama's AD after Bockrath was eventually canned points to some behind the scenes shenanigans. Bockrath is also responsible for the DuBose hire, which saw two losing seasons, scandal and more sanctions. If Bockrath's dismissal would've helped us hang onto Stallings, I imagine the three-ring circus that's been in Tuscaloosa for the last several years never would've come to town.

"When the Circus Comes to Town" is a great song, but you don't want to see your team turn into a circus.