Late last Monday night, I offered some initial thoughts on my preseason BlogPoll ballot, which my fellow BlogPollsters and I will be asked to cast next month. After taking an initial stab at an inaugural top 25 for the 2008 campaign (but before I read Sunday Morning Quarterback’s excellent examination of the top mid-majors), I circulated a rough draft among a few close friends and family members this past Sunday evening.
While their responses continue to trickle in, I wanted to share some of the comments I received on an early version of my ballot which will go unpublished because it will undergo substantial revision before being cast. One relative of mine (who shall go unnamed, lest the revelation of his identity have a chilling effect on his answers to future requests for advice by me) had this to say (in terms warranting a mild adult language advisory):
I seem to remember being among the many doubters last season when you had Michigan at No. 1, so let me just say that this year' s No. 1 is a solid choice. If you need another voice on the blog to support you, post this (or I'll try to remember to chime in with a comment to this effect): Having Georgia at No. 1 is in no way homerism on your part. Apart from the obvious justification that they will likely be ranked No. 1 on the AP ballot, I know you well enough to believe that, if anything, you were probably looking for a reason not to put them at the top - either as a caution against looking like a homer, or to prevent jinxing anything, or both - and simply couldn't justify it. . . .
I'm in the Phil Steele camp of people who believe Auburn will win the West this year. . . .
The A.C.C. sucks donkey balls. Someone's gotta win it ... I guess. May as well be Clemson. I'm also fairly certain there will be an A.C.C. team besides Clemson in the final top 25, but you may be right that there's no real reason to put one there now. I'd go Virginia Tech, and since you wanted a justification for any VT arguments, here goes:
"Florida State Miami Boston College Georgia Tech Wake Forest Maryland NC State North Carolina Duke Virginia."
None of those teams are any good either. When David Cutcliffe took the Duke job, a friend from Ole Miss argued that he could very well win the A.C.C. within four years. I couldn't disagree that it is very much a possibility.
Finally, based on little more than a hunch, I'm buying Penn State as a Top 10 team but not so much Texas, and I like Arizona State in the Pac 10 a little more than Oregon. Take that for what it's worth, which is absolutely nothing.
Another relative from the same side of the family (who undoubtedly will read this and know immediately which relative shared the foregoing observations, and whose identity will be readily apparent to the author of the preceding paragraphs) independently added these opinions (which are accompanied by a slightly stronger adult language advisory):
Southern Cal will beat Ohio State handily. And would in Columbus…. Or in Miami….. Or on the Moon. . . .
Texas will beat Oklahoma, but I don’t disagree with the ranking because Texas will lose to someone they shouldn’t.
Totally not buying West Virginia or anyone in the Big East - not even Miami.
I have no specific reason to think Oregon is over ranked except for the fact that they are Oregon.
Clemson is your highest ranked ACC team. You and I know full well that Clemson isn’t winning the ACC. Florida State is the sleeping (napping?) giant. Now that everyone is free to completely ignore Bobby and instead ask Jimbo what to do, the talent in Tallahassee will start to show. FSU goes 9-3 and wins the ACC.
South Florida – see entry on West Virginia.
Arizona State – would beat South Florida even if the game were played at South Florida’s home field in West Central Florida.
Wisconsin – Who the hell knows what to make of Wisconsin this or any year????????? They are going to be the least impressive 9-3 team in America or the most impressive 9-3 team in America, but they are going to lose to two Big Ten Powerhouses, beat one Big Ten Powerhouse and lose to one mid-level Big Ten Team. All the games will be shown regionally on ABC, but not a one will be national. There won’t be highlights on SportsCenter, because there won’t have been any highlights.
Auburn would beat at least 5 of the teams ranked ahead of it.
Boise State – Will be the least impressive 10-2 team in the land. Probably ranked about right.
Kansas – Don’t give me this Kansas bullshit.
Illinois – see Kansas (and I’m not saying Michigan will be all that good, but they will be at least the fourth best team in the Big Ten – so they will be better than the other six).
Cal – Probably under ranked because of lingering suspicions about the quality of the Pac Ten. Frankly, I’m sold on the Pac Ten.
Tennessee – The biggest wildcard in the SEC. I mean, who saw them making it to Atlanta last year? They could be 10-2, they could be 8-4. My gut would be to rank them higher.
Texas Tech – I am so ready for them to fade back into Southwest Conference obscurity. But this is probably about right.
Pitt – Every time someone ranks Pitt in their top 25, an angel loses its wings.
Fresno State – Of the final four teams on your ballot, this is the only one I have any confidence in. Lock in the Boise/Fresno winner to end the year ranked 19th and the loser 24th.
BYU – Alabama is better than BYU. Michigan is better that BYU. Florida State will damn sure be better than BYU.
In summary, deride all you want, Michigan is a lower top-25 team. When no one else is going to win the ACC, it reverts to FSU. Pac Ten teams need more love. Big East teams need no love.
(By the way, yes, the person who wrote the above knows that Miami is no longer in the Big East, that the Big Ten contains eleven teams, and that the Southwest Conference no longer exists; he simply has a sense of humor. I state this fact preemptively because I am certain the same cannot be said of an angry first-time reader who will see a link to this posting on a message board and fire off an irate comment in response.)
In any event, this is the sort of feedback I am getting on my initial attempts to formulate a preseason top 25. Please feel free to leave your comments below letting me know which teams you believe will be better than expected and which you expect to crash and burn, and be on the lookout for my forthcoming first public effort at constructing a defensible BlogPoll ballot.