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Conquest Chronicles Preseason BlogPoll 2007

In preparation for this year's inaugural BlogPoll ballot I looked at things a little bit differently. Last year was my first year participating in the BlogPoll so I was kind of learning things on the fly. Brian Cook Over at MGoBlog has done a masterful job at putting this all together. I think the blogosphere does a more thoughtful job in trying to put a solid poll out than the MSM. My only problem with weekly polls, regardless of who prepares them, is that it is virtually impossible for those who prepare their individual ballots to watch EVERY game in order to prepare a ballot that is even moderately informed.

I take it seriously because I want to get it right. Because I can't watch every game I need to rely on others input to try to at least have an informed decision. This actually comes into play in another area, which I will get into later. Kyle, as usual always proffers a solid explanation as to why he votes the way he does, even when I disagree with him his reasons are thoughtful and measured. Kyle is also quick to point out others who put in solid efforts while also making sure that the process stays legitimate.

Mike from Black Shoe Diaries says it perfectly, via Kyle's post linked above:

Polls are complicated. Try putting one together sometime. Coming up with a top five is pretty easy. After that it's not hard coming up with a list of ten schools to plug into the 6-15 slots, but ranking them in order can be mind bending. Positions 16-20 usually aren't hard. You can find good teams that have a few losses and are just a few players away from being great to plug in there. Slots 21-25 are agonizing to rank. By this time you're swamped with a sea of 20 or so teams that aren't bad but just don't impress you that much. Picking the top five out of that group is a crap shoot. Luckily nobody usually cares about the teams ranked that low to notice who you put in there.

Brian is pretty selective in who he allows in the blogpoll, so I take my vote pretty seriously. I probably put more thought into it than the average blogpoll voter, and I'm sure I put more thought into it that the coaches and AP writers put in their ballots.

Here is my Pre-season Ballot:

I have always felt that there has to be some neutrality when putting a ballot together and the more information on hand the better the results will be. I won't always be right in ballots but they won't be rubber stamped either in order to simply put a ballot up. Mike goes on to discuss how he rates the teams and it seems pretty thorough and he even admits that his analytical mind pushes him to a different level when putting his ballot together. Some have mocked the BlogPoll just like others have mocked the Maxwell Pundit voting that a number of us participate in. To me it's another way for information to be disseminated that ultimately gets the conversation going.

That being said, it is one thing to put a ballot out there simply showing how one voted with any explanation, after all the MSM doesn't explain the how's or why's of their voting pattern. But when an explanation is attached to said ballot that information needs to be should be free of partisanship or at the very least needs to have some legitimate information backing up those statements.

I am going to comment on just a few teams.

I have put USC at #1 in my preseason poll not because of the hype but because I can see no other team that will challenge them with the level of talent that they have. Do they have questions at some positions? Absolutely! But so does everyone else in the top 10 of both major polls. It certainly doesn't mean that SC won't lose a game. I actually think they will lose a game and I said so on the EDSBS Live show on July 3rd when I called in from Berlin. I'm not yet ready to give the title to the Trojans but I can see no other team that should be ranked ahead of them in the polls until they lose.

I have Texas at #2 because once again I think Mack Brown has amassed a tremendous amount of talent and I think Colt McCoy is better than advertised, as long as OC Greg Davis gets out of his way. Texas does have some injury and off the field issues that could get in their way but that may not matter, I think they will settle down and roll through their schedule, not like Grant through Richmond but I only see OU as their only competition.

LSU is at #3. They have a solid team that should do pretty well with their schedule but I also think that Les Miles' comments last month will come back to haunt him as he has already started setting up his excuses if LSU doesn't make it to the title game. We'll see.

At #4 is Michigan. I realize that SC smoked them in the Rose Bowl...again, but the have some talent coming back and with the Buckeyes probably in a down year this could be their year to win the Big 10 and look on to bigger things. This is Carr's last chance in my eyes, win now or forever hold your piece.

Florida is #5 and they will still make some noise this season even though their defense is suspect when compared to last year. They will be a fun offense to watch with Tebow starting this season. He was fun to watch last season now the offense is his run at leisure does he have what it takes to man the helm.

No commentary would be complete without commenting on UCLA, which I have at #18. The pundits and writers are all over the map with this team showing just how confusing Karl Dorrell is. They have a ton of starters coming back but the coaching situation I think will get in their way, but that is not why I have them low in my poll. As much hatred as there is for Dorrell there have been times in this off season that even the players seemed out of touch with the drive to win, maybe its KD's fault maybe it isn't. Based on a 7-6 season last year I'm not sure it's there. Yes, they will point to 13-9 but when I see comments stating that the players beat USC IN SPITE of the coaching, the first question I would ask is then what about the 6 losses, could they not GET UP for those games? To me that is a swipe at the players, so which is it? Will they win EVERY game in spite of KD or just when they feel like it? That is where the confusion is with ucla.

I have gotten a kick out of reading some of the reasons that some have not picked USC #1. That's fine but when there are educated responses such as Kyle explained above about why he voted the way he did it is refreshing to see that some use logic instead of rhetoric to make their picks. Simply not buying into the hype or stating that a few key players have left the team so there will be question marks is not enough to say that a team shouldn't be ranked #1. All teams lose coaches and players, there is always a little hype thrown out there when it comes to the top programs so it really is a toss up until the season is underway for a couple weeks. More importantly, at least to me, have a clue as to what you are talking about don't speculate.

This is a great exercise and some guys really get into it and put out some thoughtful commentary. As I alluded to in another post the only way bloggers will be taken seriously is if we do our due diligence and put forth content which is well thought out, accurate and devoid partisanship. That's how we will build credibility.