ATN Podcast: The poll isn’t perfect

Sure, the Top 25 teams went 25-0 on Saturday. We’re happy about that, don’t get me wrong. But that doesn’t mean the Top 25 is perfect, or that the right 25 teams are ranked, at least not in my mind and Keith’s mind.

We’re five weeks into the 2009 season. But are some teams still getting votes from some voters based on what they did in 2008? In a sense, that’s unavoidable — I mean, we all put Mount Union and UW-Whitewater up high on our ballot because of what they did in 2008 … and 2007 … and 2006 … well, anyway, you get the idea.

See, that’s the paradox of voting in a Top 25 ranking. Some things make sense in some cases, but no single rule works for all teams and all comparisons.

So why is Willamette ranked ahead of Concordia-Moorhead despite the Week 1 loss? Or, more extreme, why is Ohio Northern behind North Central? Keith and I will try to make some sense of it all in this week’s Around the Nation Podcast.

Oh, plus, one of the two podcasters changed his No. 1 vote this week. Who and why? You’ll have to listen.

Click the play button below to listen.

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20 thoughts on “ATN Podcast: The poll isn’t perfect

  1. Great podcast.

    Your opinions of Monmouth are probably shared by most of us. Yes, they clobbered Aurora 41-13 and lost a game to Wartburg that they really let get away from them, but if it’s true that teams with a lot of returning starters will get better in year 2 or 3, is it fair to assume MC is really good right now? Problem is that winning 50-0 every week against poor competition isn’t going to prove that. I’m anxiously awaiting the St Norbert game this week.

    St Norbert is a team with a history of being competitive in the playoffs and they have a win over a ranked team this year. In the MWC this is as big a game as you’ll probably ever see. St Norbert is trying to prove that they are still worthy of being a perennial contender in the MWC and Monmouth is trying to prove that they are ready to compete nationally. This game will tell us a lot about these two teams but don’t overlook the Ripon game. Last years game was not as close as the 38-35 score but poor execution nearly cost them. MC had to kick two FG’s from inside the Ripon 5, missed an XP, had a failed 2PC, and allowed the Red Hawks to return a kickoff for a TD…and it was Homecoming.

    I won’t be sold on the Scots unless they clearly handle St Norbert and Ripon. Let’s hope the Homecoming festivities don’t get in the way.

  2. You guys sure are pretty low on case western…it sounds like you only put them in the top ten because feel like you have to. I’m not saying they deserve to be any higher because as far as I’m concerned, 4-10 are pretty much the same. But it sounds like you have a hard time believing they could beat ANY top 25 team at all. Funny, since you have never seen them play, and all you have are comparative scores to base your rankings from. I agree, their schedule has been weak thus far, and doesn’t get much stronger, but this week at Wooster, at night, is at least a decent test for the spartans. For some reason, the regular season agreement between the NCAC and UAA doesn’t have Case playing Wabash or Wittenberg, so maybe one of you should come see this offense in action and then make a real, legitimate assessment. It sounds like you have seen most of the other teams up high in the rankings some time in the past few seasons. Give these guys a shot.

  3. No doubt on Case — in fact, I don’t have them in my personal Top 10 and from Keith’s comments, I doubt he has either.

    However, in terms of seeing Case play and being impressed — honestly, I don’t know what I would learn from seeing Case against these teams. Yes, that’s 157 points in four games, 39 points per game. Now it’s another 10 points per game against the same four teams. How did that translate, though, when finally facing a tough team in the playoffs last year? And then, how did that team that held you to 17 points do the next week in the playoffs?

    I agree — Case should be playing Witt and Wabash in the regular season, or at least one of them. This scheduling agreement is not helping Wabash or Case prepare itself for the real world of Week 12.

  4. I have a question: They’re not in the Top 25, but how could Alfred go from 26 votes last week to just 8 this week? Could it be that they didn’t play and were forgotten about? I’m not saying they belong in the poll; just curious.

  5. Enjoyed the comments about rankings after the No. 3 spot.

    Monmouth discussion was interesting, especially the “transitive” talk from Monmouth to Wartburg top UWW … but play that slippery equation out and there’s also Augsburg (3-5 in MIAC in the chain) in the chain. 🙂

    It’s hard to be sold on the Scots. Are they the team that ALMOST beat Wartburg … or are like that 2005 Monmouth team that came in with the perfect record, the chain of big scores (seven wins over 40 points), the highly touted QB and the MWC title, then lost 62-2 in round one. That was a horribly soft and overmatched team that gave up 13 sacks.

    The Scots should have scheduled a strong NC test given the general weakness of their league .. it might have helped them down the road and maybe even this week against the Norbs.

  6. Speaking of changes in the Top 25 poll and whether or not they make sense…Last week, Redlands didn’t play and they jumped up 2 spots in the poll. This week, they played and won, convincingly, and dropped 1 spot. Obviously, the voters prefer to use their imagination rather than looking at the real results!

  7. No. They look at the results of all teams, not just yours. Last week Redlands moved up because two teams dropped out of the poll. This week Capital went one point ahead of Redlands after being 14 points behind them the week before — an average of less than one spot per voter.

  8. With respect to Redlands, I prefer to look at the vote totals that they have received.

    #22 in the “Perfect Top 25” is 100 points, and every slot in the Perfect top 25 is worth 25 votes. Redlands has moved all around the perfect #22 (from 116 votes to 98 votes) in the last two weeks. They moved up from that logjam around #23 (#21 Willamette with 84 votes to #25 Capital with 62 votes) in week #3. Redlands (#22 with 98 votes) is still in a logjam with Capital at 99 votes #21 and Thomas More #25 with 75 votes.

    Pat and Keith mentioned how they really may feel good about a team being 11th, but you gotta put someone in as #4, and so a team may be getting more votes than the balloteers believe that they deserve, just because you have to cast a vote for #4.

    As for the question, “who did Redlands beat?” LaVerne. Let’s look to see how much love a win over Oxy gives them this week. And, the Redlands’ home win over ETBU may be losing some lustre, as ETBU lost to (hard-to-slot) McMurry (1-4) this week.

  9. first things first – i’m a mount guy. but i’m surprised UWW hasn’t gained more ground in the polls. mount’s defense is terrific but the team has some question marks right now.

  10. Repete…ease up man it was 4 years ago. Wasn’t it Oklahoma that got trounced 55-19 by USC 4 or 5 years ago…This is a different team.

    Monmouth got dominated on the offensive and defensive line, the skill position players were fine. Ask Notre Dame what happens when you load up with skill position players and don’t recruit linemen. This Monmouth team has 2 preseason all-america offensive linemen and defensive linemen that easily could’ve been.

    The difference isn’t the final score it’s how effortlessly they are doing it compared to 2005 and 2008. MC led Grinnell 42-0 after the 1st Q. The scores look the same but the games are completely different.

    I would caution you as well on the score lineage…the Wartburg team that lost to Augsburg early was not the same team that beat UWSP, pulled a miracle at Monmouth, and trailed UWW 20-17 before the wheels fell off in the late at Whitewater. St Norbert did the same thing to them this year.

    If ALMOST constitutes building a 28-14 halftime lead, rolling up 400 yards of offense, and trailing for the first time in the game with 7 seconds left, then yes, Monmouth ALMOST beat Wartburg.

  11. I’m only half way through the podcast as I sit here and sulk over the Packers terrible O-Line costing the Packers the game (I won’t get into the reffing 🙂 but I digress)…it’s nice to know that someone out there who votes in any kind of poll is willing to come out and admit who they voted for and explain/justify the reasoning…in an age where computers and equations are voting in one poll and coaches secretaries/assistants are voting for them in a D1 poll it’s refreshing to know that in the purest game of football…D3 college football…there are people out there who understand it and are willing to talk about it…good work guys…keep it up…(maybe you can rank UW-W lower for a few weeks so they can play with a chip on their shoulder and don’t need a bulls eye on their back!)

  12. Scotties,

    I only threw in Augsburg (note the emoticon) to show the flaws of the “transitive” comparisons, flaws Pat & KMack know well and always acknowledge. But since you apparently saw Augsburg, which also beat Wartburg the season before, perhaps you can say that.

    Still, if you’re into that stuff, somewhere out on the Web is that who-beat-who generator that will track score strings that will link MC to USC.

    But really, the question on whether MC is legit or just a team dominating a weak league cannot be answered until it schedules and beats someone, anyone decent.

    WIAC teams are begging for games. Platteville is just minutes up the road from Loras. The Scots nearly drove through Whitewater when they used to play Concordia, Wis. What about Augustana or Wheaton?

    Give us some real games to compare the Scots … and sorry, using Grinnell in any argument about football quality is laughable.

    And here’s the thing, when you’re in a league you can dominate and grab the AQ, scheduling a tough NC is less of a gamble than in a deeper or more balanced conference such as the IIAC, WIAC, CCIW, NWC or MIAC.

  13. repete,

    No doubt Grinnell is bad, that wasn’t the point of using them as a reference. The point was how quickly MC dispatched them compared to previous seasons where the blowout final score was the same or similar.

    Keep in mind also that Grinnell also lost 14-11 to St Norbert who beat…nope I’m not going to do it.

    The Oklahoma thing was simply to point out that one bad loss 4 years ago should not define a program.

    I do agree, there is obviously a need for MC to schedule a tougher NC opponent and I’m not sure why they haven’t. As you mentioned, they can still dominate their league and make the playoffs with the AQ if they lose in week 1. They really only have something to gain by scheduling a tough game early. One conference loss would effectively end their season anyway because of the overall strength, or weakness, of the league. However, a win over a tough NC opponent could improve their seed for the playoffs, Loras does nothing for them. Augustana would be the most likely candidate since they’re only 60 miles or so away in Rock Island.

    First things first…have to beat St Norbert Saturday which has historically been a tall task. If MC is as good as advertised it shouldn’t be so tall…

  14. For what it’s worth, the Loras team that we are giving Monmouth no credit for beating the last 2 years beat Central at Central last year.

  15. No, I’m really reaching…and I’m done.

    Remarkable how a team can go from mediocre to 9th in the country in such a short period of time though 🙂

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