A Fairly Confounding Analysis

The AFCA released its preseason Top 25 today.

Wait, strike that. The AFCA released its first poll today. It just looks like a preseason poll, even though three weeks have gone by. Here’s a look:

Rank School (1st votes) Rec. Pts.
1. Mount Union (39) 2-0 999
2. Mary Hardin-Baylor (1) 2-0 899
3. St. John’s 3-0 889
4. UW-La Crosse 2-0 786
5. St. John Fisher 3-0 770
6. Wheaton 2-0 758
7. Wesley 3-0 739
8. Capital 2-0 708
9. UW-Whitewater 1-1 671
10. Central 3-0 610
11. Baldwin-Wallace 2-0 547
12. Ohio Northern 2-0 510
13. Washington & Jefferson 2-0 483
14. Linfield 1-1 356
15. Trinity (Texas) 2-0 346
16. Bridgewater (Va.) 3-0 343
17. Wartburg 2-0 338
18. Salisbury 3-0 276
19. North Central 2-0 259
20. Wabash 2-0 217
21. St. Olaf 3-0 187
22. Rowan 1-1 143
23. Occidental 2-0 139
24. Montclair St. 2-0 129
25. Mount St. Joseph 3-0 127

Others Receiving Votes: Springfield 117; UW-Oshkosh 85; RPI 68; Trinity (Conn.) 50; Ithaca 47; Hardin-Simmons 41; UW-Eau Claire 24; Bethel 22; Whitworth 21; Centre 21; Carthage 20; St. Norbert 19; Christopher Newport 18; Catholic 17; Bates 15; Redlands 15; Augustana 13; Ursinus 13; Williams 12; Hobart 12; Carnegie Mellon 12; Alfred 12; Coe 11; John Carroll 11; Franklin 11; Pacific Lutheran 9; Dickinson 9; Muhlenberg 8; Hampden-Sydney 7; Concordia (Wis.) 6; Widener 6; Cortland State 5; Case Western Reserve 5; Curry 3; Waynesburg 1; UW-Stevens Point 1; Guilford 1; Adrian 1; Ferrum 1; DePauw 1.

There are 65 teams getting votes, which is to the point of ridiculousness. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Centre: 21 votes. The Colonels are 1-2, with a 14-9 win at Bluffton followed by losses to 3-0 Maryville (22-15 at home) and 2-0 DePauw (38-7 on the road). Maryville is unbeaten, and if someone intended to vote for Centre as highly as it appears, that person should’ve voted for Maryville somewhere. Or, of course, DePauw, which crushed Centre. DePauw got one vote. I almost wonder if this person intended to vote for Central, but didn’t know the difference. And of course, the AFCA didn’t catch the error, if that’s the case.

Catholic: 17 votes. At least CUA is 3-0. Never mind that the Cardinals’ opponents are a combined 0-8. Strength of schedule has never been the AFCA poll’s strong point. And this is my alma mater, and I’m still complaining. That’s how bad this is. Guilford, which got one vote, is worthy of far more votes than Catholic at this point in the season.

Bates: 15 votes. And Bates has 16 wins, total, in eight seasons. ‘Nuff said. If this is a mistake vote, perhaps it should’ve been Baldwin-Wallace, which is the previous team alphabetically.

Hampden-Sydney: 7 votes. Someone might’ve sent in their 2004 ballot. This year’s Hampden-Sydney is 2-1, which isn’t bad. Of course, the loss is at home to Johns Hopkins (1-2). Randolph-Macon, which is also 2-1 but beat Johns Hopkins, on the road no less, is more deserving of these votes than H-SC is. Not that I’d advocate voting for either. Four ODAC teams get votes, but none of them is the defending champion, W&L, which at least is still unbeaten. (Unless someone meant to vote for W&L, but hit W&J instead.)

Ferrum: 1 vote. It takes a lot for me to be upset about one vote, but Ferrum is 1-2, 0-2 against Division III schools with losses by a margin of 91-23. Why would the person voting for Ferrum (1-2) not vote for, say, Emory and Henry? E&H only beat Ferrum 50-7.

This doesn’t even address the perennially overrated teams within the Top 25 itself.

We stopped relying on the AFCA poll at the end of the 2002 season and started our own. And last year, we stopped even publishing this poll. But this takes the cake, which is why I had to say something.

27 thoughts on “A Fairly Confounding Analysis

  1. Funny, I just had reason to think about why I much prefer the D3football.com poll, and why we started one in the first place.

    Thing is, anyone can look at the standings and pick the 25 teams with the most wins. Wins most certainly count for something, but if you’re not taking into account who teams are beating and losing to, then you’re sort of wasting everyone’s time. You really have to put in a lot of time to get a decent representation of the 25 best.

    And then the teams go out and screw it all up every Saturday. Go figure.

    Makes you wonder why anyone would rely on any poll for anything other than a group opinion of the 25 strongest teams.

    Say it with me now, everyone: “I’m glad we get to settle it all on the field.”

  2. I don’t see what all the fuss is about. I didn’t analyze every single team, but it looks good to me.

    But then again, I stopped reading after I found Mount………..
    1. Mount Union (39) 2-0 999

  3. Is there a communication channel available to provide feedback to these folks so they can be told what idiots they are?

  4. Below is a list (by conference) of the 40 coaches who vote in the poll.

    Every conference but the UAA is represented:

    Sherman Wood, Salisbury

    Jimmie Keeling, Hardin-Simmons
    Pete Fredenburg, Mary Hardin-Baylor

    Tim Rucks, Carthage
    Norm Eash, Illinois Wesleyan

    Darwin Breaux, Dickinson
    Scot Dapp, Moravian

    Empire 8
    Dave Murray, Alfred
    Mike Welch, Ithaca

    Wayne Perry, Hanover
    Rod Huber, Mt. St. Joseph

    Jeff Gabrielsen, Concordia (Wis.)

    Jeff McMartin, Central
    Erik Raeburn, Coe

    John Audino, Union

    David Wood, Widener
    Frank Sheptock, Wilkes

    Dean Kreps, Hope

    Terry Horan, Concordia-Moorhead
    Jay Schoenebeck, Gustavus Adolphus

    Ron Ernst, Ripon
    Jim Purtill, St. Norbert

    Chris Creighton, Wabash
    Mike Schmitz, Wooster

    J.B. Wells, Endicott
    Brien Cullen, Worcester State

    E.J. Mills, Amherst

    Dan MacNeil, Cortland State
    Jay Accorsi, Rowan

    Mark Speckman, Willamette

    Jim Collins, Capital
    Larry Kehres, Mount Union

    Mike Clark, Bridgewater (Va.)
    Don Montgomery, Emory & Henry

    Mike Sirianni, Washington & Jefferson

    Steve Mohr, Trinity (Texas)

    Mike Maynard, Redlands

    Matt Kelchner, Christopher Newport

    Larry Terry, UW-La Crosse
    John Miech, UW-Stevens Point

  5. Wow, Wesley, LAX, Wheaton and more ahead of Whitewater. I thought they were screwed up last year but this poll is even more amusing. AFCA all-american selections and polls are a thing of the past and something to be laughed at and then ignored. D3 then the Gazette is where credibility seems to have settled.

  6. I know you didn’t like how UWW was treated by the AFCA All-American teams, but they are far more credible than Gazette. (Polls, not so much.)

  7. I dug back into the archives of January 2007 to cut an paste a preseason poll I made at that time using a little info about each team from their website and a little free time. At the time, I was told I couldnt do it cuz it was too early in the preseason, and because D-III doesnt have scholarships to gauge players returning…..However; its rather similar to the current poll….here it is!

    RaiderATO Says:

    January 12th, 2007 at 3:25 pm
    Here it goes:

    1. Mount Union-The Raiders return their entire backfield along with All-American guard Blanchard and center Safran. Not to mention Gracon at receiver. Defensively, the Raiders return LB’s Rees and DeRiggi and DBs Wilson and Kostelnik. Their biggest question will be the D line.

    2. St Johns Fisher-SJF returns three outstanding receiver soffensively in Jackson, Marion, and Nowicki, and their leader returning rusher is Reile with 805 yards. Not to mention Kramer’s back at QB after throwing for 2,019 yards last season. All-American tackle Fortune is back as well. Defensively, SJF returns AA DB Stepnick as well as Miranto and Driscoll. SJF also has two strong LBs in Fox and Casel

    3. St Johns(MN)-QB Kofoed is back after throwing for 2800 yards last season, and top rushers returning combined for over 850 yds last year. Defensively, the Johnnies return AA DT Gunderson as well as two great DBs in Cloeter (4 picks) and Klint, who is only a sophomore.

    4. UW-W- The Warhwaks are back agin with Justin Beaver as well as 4 of their 5 linemen from last years squad. Also, watch for Soph fullback Hunt to get in the mix. On D, Ogrizovich is back at DL and Benish at DE. The Warchwaks return their entire secondary!

    5. Uw-Lacrosse – Lacrosse is lead up front on O by OT Olsen and Olejniczak. The loss of QB Shumna hurts, but Donoval and Hall should carry the rushing load. WRs Everson and Wagner return as well. Defensively, Lacrosse has 3 of 4 back in the seconadary and three great LBs in Cordes, Neitzel, and Kiefer….The loss of Teeple hurts!

    Theres my top 5….I’ll be back with 6-10 in a little while!

    RaiderATO Says:

    January 12th, 2007 at 4:45 pm
    6. Springfield- Returning for Springfield is AA QB Sharpe who rushed for 1.941 yards as a junior, and Jackson is back at FB after 928 yards in the 2006 campaign, however; they lose AA Guard Adam Feit. Defensively, Harasymiak is back at DB after a 10 interception campaign. Also back is another DB in Zalenski with 4 picks last year, and Capoarale is the top retruning LB. Springfield must air it out a little more if they wanted to advance deep into the playoffs.

    7. Wesley – After a 13-1 campaign in 06, Wesley returns Aaron Jackson in the backfield as their top returning rusher with 1095 yards last seaosn. Although Warrick is gone for Wesley, Mike Clark returns as the top receiving threat, after racking up 1304 yards receiving. On D, Wesley is lead by AA DE Robinson, and DBs Marquile and Matthews who robbed three passess apiece last season.

    8. Central- The number one team in Iowa, but number 8 on my list. Central returns Connell at QB (1500 pass, 470 rush yards) and Schuring at RB (1200 yards) from last seasons 10-1 squad. The top returning receiver is Huisman with 552 receiving yards. All-American guard Nick Reed is gone, but the O line will continue to be strong. Central returns three solid linebackers in Lehn, Thompson, and Myers, and also a strong secondary with Dood and Badeaux at the corners and Baethke at Safety.

    9. Wilkes – Wilkes O is lead by the return of AA guard Jordan Purdy. Returning QB Karafa could have a big year after throwing for nearly 2000 yards last season and rushing for almost 200. Nabba is the top returning rusher with 338 yards. Defensively, Wilkes loses both All-American Serafin and Ferriero but retrun 3 air tight DBs in Gilroy, Grande, and Friedel. The trio combined for 8 INTs last campaign.

    10. Whitworth – Whitworth loses All-American TE Mike Allen andf QB Joel Clark but return RB Havercroft (563 rush yads) and Wideout Silva (759 Receiving yards). Defense with have to carry them early and the return of their entire secondary will definitely help. Marshall, a junior, Tully, Entel, and Grow totaled 22 picks last year, and look to do the same in 07′.

    Well, theres my top 10 based purely off of stats, depth chart, and returning starters. I’ll even throw in some honorable mentions in a little while. If I can do it, in my spare time, with littlehelp or prior knowledge of many of these players, then surely someone who spends more time covering D-3 and has more insight can formulate an even better one than this. Please, tell me what you think and feel free to add your input as well…Be back in a few!

    RaiderATO Says:

    January 12th, 2007 at 4:54 pm
    Honorable Mentions:

    Occidental – Even though AA QB Andy Collins has departed they return a slew of offensive weapons. Most notably, OL Emerson and Kyles, RB Anderson, and TE Wertheimer. Their top defensive returnee is OLB Ostland.

    Rowan – You can never count Rowan out, even though the defensive side of the ball will be almost completely new for the Profs. On the bright side, Edwards is back at RB after amassing almost 600 yards on the ground last season, and Katcher is back with not only the best name in D-3 for a receiver but also almost 300 receiving yards under his belt.

    Hardin-Baylor – After a 10-3 campaign last season, Thrasher returns at RB(1137 rushing), with ironically the best name for a RB in D-3, as well as Welch at QB (1200 passing), Smith at receiver, and Medlock at TE. Hardin-Baylor needs to find a quality kicker soon. Defensively, All-American LB Freeman is back, as well as quality DBs in Barcack, Burris, and Henry at LB. Hardin-Baylor will be a solid team in 07′ and will look to knock off the Purple Raiders again, much like 04′….I may regret not having them in my top 10!

  8. Who determines which coaches will represent the conference and who determines how many coaches from a particular conference there will be? (I notice some conferences have 2 and some have 1). Finally would a coach be able to vote for another team in his conference other than his own.

  9. Evidence would suggest a coach can vote for whomever he wants — Larry Kehres quite obviously has Mount Union on his ballot every week.

    I don’t know how they determine who gets represented. It’s not size — the seven team SCIAC has one vote and the seven-team ODAC gets two.

    We have 25 voters so every conference could have a vote, but on our panel the NEFC, NESCAC, UAA and IBFC do not have representatives. For the UAA, it’s because of the size of the league and for the other three it’s lack of playoff success.

  10. RaiderATO:

    Not to be cruel, but there’s a pretty substantial difference between the current D3football.com poll and your’s.

    – While you’ve got UMHB in “honorable mention,” that’s significantly different from having them No. 2 in the country. That may be because there isn’t as much easily accessible information on the Cru’s website as some other teams.

    – You’re missing the No. 9 (Wheaton) and No. 10 team (Capital) completely.

    – You’ve got two teams that aren’t in the Top 25 at all anymore (Wilkes, Whitworth). Nabba didn’t return for Wilkes nor did Havercroft for Whitworth.

    Again, this isn’t intended to pick on you. But it underlines two elements to our poll that people overlook.

    First, it’s much easier to fill out 1-10 on a preseason ballot. It’s the second half that is much tougher. How much difference would there be if you picked a full 25 instead of 10?

    Second, more goes into picking a Top 25 than looking at websites. There are some sites that don’t make information easy to discern (like UMHB). And January website postings won’t tell you about important transfers (Danny Jones to UWW), departures (Nabba and Havercroft) and returnees (Beavers to Wesley). We’re able to arm our voters with that information.

  11. what’s sad gordon is that the umhb website has improved a lot in the last couple of years. thank you d3football.com for usually telling me about umhb stuff before umhb.edu tells me.

  12. This is an interesting topic.

    I can’t completely knock the contribution of coaches because our panel is 1/3 coaches, and I think that kind of balance is important. No one is closer to the game than they are, and no one spends more time watching film, scouting teams, etc., than they do.

    That said, coaches are often singularly-focused, and rightfully so. They don’t really have the time to follow teams nationally because they are busy with their own team and their own games every Saturday.

    When you look at that panel, I know a lot of those guys, and I find it hard to believe they just don’t care.

    I think they’re trying to get it right.

    What it boils down to, in my mind, is a general respect for coaches by coaches for how hard it is to get wins, in any conference. So few coaches want to sit there and knock another coach and his unblemished record no matter who he’s played.

    Coaches also have a slightly vested interest in boosting teams they’ve played or teams from their region. Not that they would purposely influence the poll, but perhaps they are convinced by teams they’ve played or seen or heard about and haven’t had a chance to do due diligence on the other teams from other parts of the country.

    Certainly the coach/SID/media formula of D3football.com is attempt to balance any type of general bias from any one of those three groups. As mentioned above, we strive for geographic and regional balance among the 25 as well.

    In any case, the AFCA results have often skewed to raw won-loss record, while the D3football.com poll tends to give teams credit for playing stronger schedules.

    What people who have done breakdowns on our message board have often found is that all polls or rankings get some right and some wrong.

    Personally I find the D3football.com style to be most accurate, but you would expect me to say that, wouldn’t you?

  13. How many votes does each coach/conference get with this poll. I am confused when I see 40 coaches yet one school gets 117 votes. Can someone explain this in laymans terms.

  14. Kickerdad, most polls award 25 votes for 1st, 24 votes for 2nd, … and 1 vote for 25th.

    Please go look at the South Region Fan Poll (on the message boards) that is run by Matt Barnhart.

    Mary Hardin Baylor got 5 first place votes worth 10 points each, and so on.

  15. Gordon- this poll was made up by me, no help, last january…of course its different…It was a make shift preseason poll, thats allIts not exact, but it has similarities…That was my point!

  16. There’s no smoke-filled room, no mass debate between voters, etc. Most of the voters don’t know more than a couple of the others.

    The entire reason, in fact, that we don’t publish our voter list, is to keep people from trying to influence them.

  17. Just Bill,
    I just figured it out when you posted it.

    I was kind of wondering why the headline wasn’t something more attention-grabbing, like “Why the AFCA poll sucks” … turns out Pat WAS being clever.

  18. It seems the AFCA is always behind the times when it comes to topics that do not deal with themselves. Thats why is is always nice to keep it in-house for the most accurate info.

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