It is game week in the college football universe — we're under 100 hours away from the first game of the 2011 college foorball season — and that means we're about ready to start arguing about the vagaries and inaccuracies of preseason polls.
The preseason version of the 2011 BlogPoll may have plenty of said inaccuracies, but it also has something neither the AP nor USA Today preseason poll has: Alabama as the nation's No. 1 team.
The Crimson Tide edge Oklahoma by a very slim margin, leading a top five that Oregon, Florida State, and Boise State round out. The Seminoles are No. 4 with two first place votes, a sign that voters may be looking for Jimbo Fisher's team to compete for a national championship this year.
The transparent BlogPoll balloting helps us do things like calculate the average ranking points for a team, which, in this poll, shows that there's a top two, a No. 3 team, a No. 4-7 muddle, a clearly defined top 15, and a lot of confusion thereafter.
Wack Ballot Watchdog
Now, on to the extracurriculars. First up are the teams which spur the most disagreement between voters as measured by standard deviation. Note that the standard deviation charts halt at No. 25 when looking for the lowest, otherwise teams that everyone agreed were terrible (say, Army) would all be at the top.
|2||Notre Dame Fighting Irish||7.97||4.85|
|3||TCU Horned Frogs||11.30||4.65|
|4||Oklahoma St. Cowboys||14.04||4.64|
No one has any idea whether Georgia's a top 15 team or the No. 25 team, which seems fair, because I don't think anyone outside of Mark Richt's office or Dawg Sports knows which Bulldogs offensive linemen are healthy.
First up are Mr. Bold and Mr. Numb Existence. The former goes to the voter with the ballot most divergent from the poll at large. The number you see is the average difference between a person's opinion of a team and the poll's opinion.
|1||TomahawkNation||Florida St. Seminoles||ballot||10.11|
|2||BCS Guru||UCLA Bruins||ballot||4.73|
|4||Black Heart Gold Pants||Iowa Hawkeyes||ballot||4.03|
|5||NittanyWhiteOut||Penn St. Nittany Lions||ballot||3.70|
Tomahawk Nation is going to factor into a lot of these categories this week because it ranked teams by strength of schedule as a way of protesting preseason polls. That No. 1 vote for Auburn? Yeah, it's Tomahawk Nation.
BCS Guru earns an honorable mention for doing all sorts of unorthodox things: South Carolina is No. 5, TCU No. 6, Utah No. 10, Wisconsin No. 21, and SMU No. 25 in his poll.
Those two make Black Heart Gold Pants driving Virginia Tech's bandwagon look a little less divergent.
|1||Hog Database||Arkansas Razorbacks||ballot||1.30|
|2||SpartyMSU||Michigan St. Spartans||ballot||1.60|
|3||Mountain West Connection||Utah Utes||ballot||1.74|
|4||The Key Play||Virginia Tech Hokies||ballot||1.78|
|5||Voodoo Five||South Florida Bulls||ballot||1.89|
Congrats to Hog Database for ranking every team in its ballot that ended up in the BlogPoll except for USC. You win a groupthink Groupon*! (*Not really. And aren't all Groupons groupthink Groupons? Think about it, group.)
Next we have the Coulter/Kos Award and the Straight Bangin' Award, which are again different sides of the same coin. The CKA and SBA go to the blogs with the highest and lowest bias rating, respectively. Bias rating is calculated by subtracting the blogger's vote for his own team from the poll-wide average. A high number indicates you are shameless homer. A low number indicates that you suffer from an abusive relationship with your football team.
|1||Pistols Firing||Oklahoma St. Cowboys||ballot||8.96|
|2||Inside The Shoe||Ohio St. Buckeyes||ballot||5.41|
|3||NittanyWhiteOut||Penn St. Nittany Lions||ballot||4.35|
|4||Hog Database||Arkansas Razorbacks||ballot||4.05|
|5||Eleven Warriors||Ohio St. Buckeyes||ballot||3.41|
Pistols Firing has Oklahoma State No. 3, which is impressive bullishness on a team that lost its leading rusher and savant offensive coordinator from last year. Congrats to you, first CKA winner of 2011!
And I now know that I cannot wait for Ohio State blogs to overrate their Buckeyes on a weekly basis, claiming that the world at large is biased, is holding Jim Tressel's sins against Luke Fickell's team, and just doesn't get how good Joe Bauserman is. Maybe Brian Cook picked the right year to get out of this game?
|1||TomahawkNation||Florida St. Seminoles||ballot||-19.26|
|3||Burnt Orange Nation||Texas Longhorns||ballot||-2.12|
|4||The Key Play||Virginia Tech Hokies||ballot||-1.54|
|5||Eye On CFB||Notre Dame Fighting Irish||ballot||-0.97|
HEY LOOK GALS AND GENTS IT'S TOMAHAWK NATION NOT RANKING ITS OWN TOP-FIVE TEAM and thus winning the Straight Bangin' Award by a margin we will almost certainly not see matched this season.
EDSBS and Burnt Orange Nation's ballots not ranking Florida and Texas, both marginal top 25 teams, are good enough to take second and third in this category. Why? Because it's the beginning of the year, and most voters haven't had their foolish optimism about their team's sun-kissed dream season shattered yet.
And now, housekeeping: due to the new, faster turnaround for and transition of management of this year's BlogPoll, I'll be continuing to manage the poll rolls and accepting new applications to be part of the BlogPoll through this Thursday, September 1, at 7 p.m. Eastern. If you run a college football blog or write about college football on the Internet and want to commit to participating in and discussing the 2011 BlogPoll on a weekly basis, email me at andrew.b.hutchins at gmail dot com, subject line BlogPoll, and let me know why you're interested in the BlogPoll, your team affiliation, and your credentials as soon as possible.