I was a little surprised to find in yesterday mornings Daily News Scott Wolf’s explanation as to why he has USC #3, up from #5, in his AP ballot.
Apparently, I did not get the memo Saturday night when it came time to vote in The Associated Press top 25 poll. I was one of only three voters who did not select USC as the nation's No. 1 team. There were 61 other voters who disagreed with us.
The coaches' poll was almost identical, with 57 of 61 votes going for the Trojans. I have no problem being in the minority. As Groucho Marx said, "I don't care to belong to any club that would have me as a member."
But everyone else seemed to have a problem with my ballot, which placed Georgia No. 1, Florida No. 2 and USC No. 3. I can see why there is a consensus but does there have to be? USC good. Everyone else bad. Is that the mind-set?
I've naturally been accused of being anti-USC. Would I be pro-USC if I voted the Trojans No. 1? I'm guessing that would be OK.
I have noted before that I am pretty ambivalent as to what Wolf writes. Some days he is dead on others it seems that he mails it in. We have all been through that, even bloggers have bad days, but I surprised to find Wolf take the time to explain it when for so long he barely gives his critics or fans the time of day. It’s always been hard to get a read on Scott Wolf, being an alumnus of the school that you cover can’t be easy. Go too easy on the program and everyone will think you’re a homer. Be too critical and you will be chastised as overcompensating. (The comments on Wolf's blog about his rankings fell into the "chastising" category, as well as recommending that people stop reading the blog. )
Monday Wolf was also on Mason and Ireland on 710 ESPN in L.A. attempting to explain his ballot.
You can listen to it here.
I am not sure that he was very convincing in his argument especially when it comes to Florida being placed at #2. I don't have a problem if he wants UGA at #1 but Florida has only played two games at home against teams that are on the rebuilding track. Again, I can understand he is in a tough spot. It's just the logic doesn't make sense: if winning allows you to maintain a spot, why do you get to stay in place during a bye week? If USC's win over Virginia was devalued by Virginia losing to Connecticut, then why is it all right for Georgia to win a squeaker over a South Carolina team that lost to Vanderbilt?
The contortions that Wolf goes through are the kind of thing that has always annoyed the fans is how the polls are done. I have said numerous times that I don’t think the set of rankings should come out until the middle of October when everyone has some games under their belts while also being involved in conference play. To me this would give the voters a much clearer picture of where teams are and how they have performed.
Even that doesn't completely offset a fundamental problem with the voting system: it is virtually impossible for the writers or coaches to see every game in order to make an informed decision. This essentially leads to resume ranking and it’s hardly accurate.
Does it matter in the grand scheme of things? Adam Rose looks at the question as well.
Realistically, it's difficult to rank teams at this stage of the season. There's a feeling in some circles that official voting should be held off until October. Here's why:
- With only a few football games completed, most of the tell-tale games are weeks, if not months, away. None of the voters realistically can know much about 25 (heck, 119) teams from around the nation. At least in October they'll have seen some highlights on "SportsCenter."
- Teams that start off ranked low in the September polls and then go undefeated can be shut out of the national championship game. Auburn ran the table in 2004 but watched from home while USC obliterated Oklahoma for the BCS title. Just think, it might have been more entertaining to watch USC obliterate Auburn.
- With votes being made public, there's a lot of public pressure for voters to conform (ahem, like this week) even though dissension may be healthy. Disagreements, especially regional ones, tend to cancel each other out and provide for a balanced national picture.
- It's not like fans and writers have nothing to talk about, as many media outlets produce Top 25 and Power Ranking lists of their own.
I agree with Adam and Wolf as well that its not that important at least in the early going. SC needs to simply keep winning and it won't really matter.
So the question to me isn't whether or not Wolf ranked USC at #1. The question is whether he can actually come up with a coherent reason for it. Another question is why Wolf felt he had to explain his ballot all of a sudden. Most people in the press couldn't care less what the public thinks yet he went on the radio and then wrote a column explaining his reasoning. Something doesn't add up or as Raul Julia said in the movie Tequila Sunrise...You go to a good deal of trouble to explain an inconsequential event...
Looks like he feeling a little pressure if you ask me...