One voter's take on his AP ballot
Sept. 12, 2007
By Tom Hart
Special to CSTV.com
Tom Hart calls football play-by-play for CSTV and is a contributor to CSTV.com.
I know what a lot of fans think when they see the polls, and it's usually something along the lines of, "What are these guys smoking?"
I'm here to answer that exact question.
When I was asked to contribute to the Associated Press Top 25 poll this year, I was thrilled to accept. I was looking forward to putting an innovative spin on things: voting based on performance. In the past it seemed poll voters voted according to reputation or in an attempt to fulfill their preseason predictions. Sometimes people have a hard time admitting when they're wrong. Not me.
Example No. 1: I truly thought
My opinion of
After week one's upset at the hands of Appalachian State, Michigan was completely out of my poll. How could I keep them in the Top 25 when so many more deserving teams were on the outside looking in? Following the home loss to
I realize it wasn't a loss, but at this point in the season if you have to pull out a last ditch win against UNLV, you're taking another team's well earned spot among the elite. So the Badgers fell, fell all the way down to No. 20.
That may seem a little extreme, but it goes with my basic tenet that preseason polls mean nothing. And I'm not Phil Steele, so what I think a team MIGHT do down the road also means nothing. I'm only here to judge teams on what they've accomplished. As a result, over the first few weeks my poll may be more confusing than Britney's opening number at the VMA's. I figure by the last week in September everyone has settled down.
Which brings me to No. 1. LSU has absolutely dominated its first two games. USC picked the wrong week to be idle, and while it may look on the surface like I'm penalizing the Trojans for taking a Saturday off, that's not the case. I choose to view it as a reward for the Bayou Bengals. It's easy to look like the best when you hammer a team like Virginia Tech, it's considerably more difficult to impress when you're sitting on the couch.
I admit that
On the downside of that theory lie conferences like the Mountain West, C-USA and the WAC. If you lose a game it can be tough to bounce back into national prominence immediately. Teams like Southern Miss, BYU, and
I'm getting a bit ahead of myself though, because basing moves on wins or loss versus other ranked teams will become truly significant only once teams have three or four games under their belt.
South Carolina jumped from No. 25 to No. 13 in my poll after their defensive masterpiece against Mark Richt's Bulldogs. Their SEC schedule will soon let us know if they deserve to be that high.
Missouri made a lot of mistakes in the opener in
Washington earned their way into the Top 25 with a road dismantling of the `Cuse and doing what Oklahoma couldn't last January - ending Boise State's winning streak.
If you're a one loss team at this point in the season it doesn't mean you can't make it back in, so I'm waiting for teams like BYU, Auburn and Boise to earn a spot in the coming weeks.
I can't promise you I'll place your team exactly where you think they belong, but I can promise you this: like other voters, I take this seriously and spend a lot of time researching teams and watching games. Hopefully I'll see a good chunk of Top 25 teams first hand this season.
When my travel ends, my game watching begins, and I attempt to watch as many games as possible from the weekend prior. As far as I'm concerned, TIVO was made for football.
I won't ever pretend to know every detail about every program in the FBS and FCS (those guys are eligible too). But, unlike my high school Spanish teacher, I promise you I'll do my homework.
I welcome your comments - you can send it here - but try to be responsible. Remember it's like a see saw at the playground, if you want your team to move up, that means another has to move down.
Tom Hart's Sept. 9th AP Poll
9. Penn St.
14. Georgia Tech
17. Virginia Tech