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Monday, October 02, 2006

Props to the Harris Interactive Poll

The Harris Interactive Poll, the other human poll besides the Coaches' Poll used to determine the BCS rankings, has proven it belongs this week.

If you recall, in its debut last year, the Harris was openly mocked because 0-4 Idaho ended up receiving a few votes in their first poll. Such a head-scratcher did little to instill confidence in the new poll.

However, all that should be forgotten with the release of their second poll of the 2006 season. No, it's not because they have Michigan at #4 (while the AP and Coach's Poll have them at #6) but because they seem to actually be paying attention to results on the field, not simply moving teams up and down based on where they started the season or what they did last year.

Case in point: West Virginia. Look, I have no personal beef against the Mountaineers. In fact, I have traditionally been a fan. I have family from Morgantown and relatives who went to school there. But -- based strictly on 2006 -- not the damn Sugar Bowl from last season -- there is no way to justify their current ranking.

And the Harris Poll took notice.

Last week, they had WVU at #4 but this week dropped them into a tie for fifth with Florida even though West Virginia had a bye week.

Michigan jumped from #5 to #4 with the above mentioned Gators moving up from #6. This is as it should be if you look at what has happened on the field this year. Michigan crushed ND in South Bend and beat a decent, 4-1, Wisconsin team. Florida beat UT in Knoxville and Alabama last weekend. WVU has defeated Marshall, Eastern Washington, Maryland and East Carolina.

Yes, I know it's not WVU's fault that a number of the good Big East teams bolted for the ACC. But it's not Florida or Michigan's fault either. And it is WVU's fault that they scheduled the cupcake non-conference schedule they did. Period. Thus, they must live with the consequences.

Two jokers in the AP poll have WVU #1. My question is: based on what?! That is a "carry over" from last year, plain and simple. Or maybe it could be the "impressive" ECU victory.

In addition, while the coaches keep Georgia at #9 following yet another lame performance against a very bad team, the Harris folks drop them a spot to #10, behind LSU. Sure, LSU has a loss, but it shouldn't be just about that. That was a 4 point loss on the road to Auburn. Georgia has struggled against weak competition and has yet to beat a top team. But at least, unlike WVU, in the SEC, the chance to prove themselves will come soon enough.

So, as Benny and I have learned voting our Top 25 each week, it's harder than we used to think if you legitimately try to figure out where to place teams and simply don't move them up and down based on losses and where you had them. Nice to see the Harris people are doing the same. Hopefully it will continue.


Anonymous said...

LSU also had 14 sure points take back from them from official due to failure to call pass interferences in the endzone.

My top 5 would be

1. Michigan
2. Auburn
3. Ohio State
4. LSU
5. Louisville

I don't understand the infatuation with USC.

LSU 45
Arizona 3
(could have been a much worse blow out)

USC 20
Arizona 3
(3-0 at halftime)

Auburn 40
Washington State 14

USC 28
Washingston State 22

richard cranium said...

I don't completely understand how Texas is not in the same category as the Mountaineers, They lost to the number 1 team granted, but they play teams like Sam Houston state.

Anonymous said...

WVU plays teams like Sam Houston State nearly every week.

I think it's an honest assessment that Michigan leaped UofF in the Harris poll, based on what we know up to this point in the season, that is a very fair assessment. UofF is about to hit the toughest stretch for any of the contenders this year, so we'll see what Urban Cryer and Leak/Tebow can do. UGA is about to get their top QB back, so it might start looking better in Athens. It would have been nice for us (SC) to have played them when they were on QB #3 or 4 instead of the 2nd game of the season.

Anonymous said...

WVU doesn't play a team like Sam Houston State every week...

Some weeks they have byes.

Anonymous said...

I don't get the people who vote WVU highly BECAUSE they don't play anyone.

usctrojan78 said...

One of the fools who has WVU at No.1 is Scott Wolf, the LA Daily News' Trojan beat writer, he posts is ballot on his blog (FYI he has USC at 6). I am a die hard USC fan but I would rank it like this:

1. Ohio State
2. Michigan
3. Florida
4. Auburn
5. Louisville
6. USC

cottoncandy said...

anon3:04, putting Auburn ahead of OSU shows you must be a Michigan Man. Keep up the good work!!!

Hoyasaxa said...

Nice comparison of USC and the SEC's results vs. Arizona and WSU.

You forgot to mention one thing--USC played those two games on the road, and those are conference foes.

LSU and Auburn hosted both teams.

Don't you think that makes a slight difference in giving the underdog a boost at home versus on the road?

Wish we could do the same comparison another year with the SEC teams, but that's right, they don't like to travel for OOC games.

In addition to WSU, Auburn plays Buffalo, Tulane and Arkansas State. All four games are at home.

In addition to Arizona, LSU plays Louisiana-Lafayette, Tulane and Fresno State. All four games are at home.

Instead of wondering about the infatuation with USC, you should probably try playing good teams away from home to gain credibility on the national stage.

The last time Auburn did that, they got undressed by USC at USC, and then were shutout on the return trip to Auburn the following year.

Auburn 2005 OOC games:

Loss to Georgia Tech at home, wins over Ball State and Western Kentucky at home.

Auburn 2004 OOC games:

Louisana-Monroe, Lousiana State, Citadel, Louisana Tech--all four games at home.

Auburn 2003 OOC games:

Loss to USC at home, loss to Georgia Tech on the road, wins against Louisana Monroe and Western Kentucky at home

Auburn 2002 OOC games:

Loss to USC at USC, wins over Western Carolina and Syracuse at home.

Auburn 2001 OOC games:

Loss to Syracuse at Syracuse, wins over Louisiana Tech and Ball State at home

Auburn 2000 OOC games:

Wins over Northern Illinois, Louisiana Tech and Wyoming--all at home.

Auburn 1999 OOC games:

Wins over Appalachian State, Idaho and Central Florida--all at home.

Auburn 1998 OOC games:

Wins over Louisiana Tech and Central Florida at home, loss to Virginia at home.

Auburn 1997 OOC games:

Wins over Louisiana Tech and Central Florida at home, and unbelievably, a win over Virginia AT VIRGINIA!!!

There you have it. Auburn has not won a road OOC game since 1997. And you wonder why you don't get credit for playing an incestuous SEC schedule with no OOC game to validate your true merit as a team.

At least LSU was able to beat Arizona State on a 4th and 19 hail mary to the endzone last year...at Arizona State.

Anonymous said...

lol @ that pac 10 homer talking about LSU barely beating Arizona State last year.

Yeah, it's not like LSU didn't just go through 3 weeks of hell with no practice before playing ASU.

Katrina screwed LSU's season last year.

Still 11-2 isn't half bad.

LOL @ the overall schedule of USC.

Who cares about OOC schedules

Look at the whole thing. That's what matters.

Anonymous said...

To Hoyasaxa - get over yourself. If you had a conference schedule like anyone in the SEC, then you wouldn't need to travel for OOC games. I applaud the Pac-10 for picking their 12th game as a conference game- nice job, but for the great teams in the Pac-10 like SoCal and (well there are not others), picking up another Pac-10 game is not really like picking up another SEC game. Not this year anyway. I will give you that there are years when the Pac-10 is stacked with powers, but this is not one of them. As for Auburn or UofF for that matter, just relax- one will have an major OOC road opponent in AZ in January.

Hoyasaxa said...

You can't complain about the SEC elite teams getting raw deals in the computer and human elements of the BCS polls when they don't play other strong teams out of conference, when they play almost all of their OOC games at home, and when they play teams like Arkansas State, Wofford, Citadel and a number of other scrimmages.

Florida gets limited props for playing Florida State (but they do play Southern Miss, UCF and Western Carolina). Tennessee got a very good win when they jumped on a Cal team with a new QB at their place, but then played Air Force, Marshall and Memphis. It's not so much that Auburn plays WSU or LSU plays Arizona...it's the other two games against very poor I-A or even I-AA teams that kills your strength of schedule.

The BCS has now been in place for a while, and it's up to the SEC programs to go out and play marquee OOC games in order to boost their NC hopes.

USC plays ND, Arkansas and Nebraska. You may not think much of Arkansas (although let's see how the score comparisons work if you don't beat Arky by a similar score--50 to 14--as USC did at their place), but they are a solid SEC team. Nebraska should make the Big XII title game, and ND is ND. If Auburn is on the outside looking in at Ohio State (who played Texas) and USC playing in the NC game, I don't want to see Tuberville on TV again pleading for his team's case.

I get the "anonymous" comments mixed up because there's so many of them, but it's pretty obvious that the SEC schedule only has a few tough games for the top teams, and then cakewalks against the lower half of the league, plus cakewalks in the OOC schedule. It's obvious that you DO need to travel for OOC games, or at least schedule elite teams, in order to make it to the NC game.

But then again, maybe one of your fans will start a "people's choice" award, so you've got that going for you...

Anonymous said...

i am a georgia fan, and i have to say good comments about our place in the Harris poll. Our receivers can't even catch STDs right now, but we will get a chance to play some difficult competition with UT, UF, Auburn, and GT all coming up. My only beef with the poll is that VT is ranked higher than the GT squad that just beat them on the road in a contest that was not nearly as close as the final score would perhaps indicate.

Yost said...

"Our receivers can't even catch STDs right now"


Anonymous said...

Hoyasaxa- thanks for replying. This is good stuff to talk about, not quite as good as debating whether the Song Girls or the UT Pom Squad earns top marks- but good nonetheless.

Do you honestly think that SoCal wouldn't schedule a few more patsies if they had (pick 4) Bama, Auburn, LSU, UGA, Tennessee, and/or UofF on their schedule every year, plus a conference championship where you're likely playing one of those teams again?

Don't get me wrong- don't think I'm harping on SoCal. You have a great program this year (as years past). There are years when the Pac-10 would be the most feared conference in football, but thisn;t one of them. You claim your OOC schedule improves your sos- which is true, but don't smack the top tier SEC programs because they don't need a strong OOC schedule to improve their sos this year. You're right, when the SEC isn't having a great year, the conference sos may not be enough. But Nebraska is not the Huskers of old, the gaps in ND's armour has been pointed out, and well Arkansas... not quite the Vandy of the SEC-W, is certainly no LSU or Auburn.

All this talk is really meaningless if teams aren't allowed to play each other. Paper stats, SOS, and past performance doesn;t mean crap come kickoff- that's why they play the games. Without a playoff system, playing the games we'd like to see in January may not be possible this year.

phoennix10 said...


good points about Auburn and their outerconferance schedule; I think that the SEC is a tough tough conferance and it is very hard to go undefeated in that conferance. However, they don't help their cause by scheduling patsies and complaining about the BCS rankings(strength of schedule).

Though, I think LSU is an extremely talented team this year. (though, they can't run the football)

doneagain said...

Well, opinions are opinions and nothing more. I have one huge beef with the author of this blog, or at least with what he said in this thread anyway. How can you fault WVU's schedule 4 games into their season? How can you brag about Michigan's schedule this early either. How can you defend any team that brags about playing an SEC schedule, then uses that as an excuse for their failures. I get tired of hearing how WVU plays a weak conference schedule.

Has the Big 10 called WVU and invited them to join? Nope.

Has the ACC called WVU and invited them to join? Nope.

Has the SEC called WVU and invited them to join? Nope.

Do you think if ANY of those three conferences called WVU and invited them to join that they would not jump at the chance to join? WVU's athletic Department is self-supporting, and we would kill to be in one of those 3 conferences because it would mean a lot less worry each year because of the huge boost in annual revenue we would receive as a member of any of those three.

I do have a solution though. If the Big 10 is too tough for Michigan, or if the SEC is too tough for Florida or Auburn, then leave all that money behind and come join the Big East. Since it is such an easy road to the BCS playing a Big East schedule, then call up the Big East and ask to join. Do you think they would turn down any big name program that wanted to join? The Big East has to fight tooth and nail for any credibility and then have to settle for table scraps. All the Big East heard was how it didn't deserve a BCS bid because it's champions could never compete with the conference champ from the Big 10 or SEC. Well, we beat the SEC Champ in the Sugar, and immediately the new way to slam the Big East and WVU was to say "Well, that win didn't mean anything." That is funny because up until that point, we were told that was the only thing that meant something.

The bottom line is that teams like Michigan or FLorida have no one to blame but themselves if they don't like thier position. No one is forcing them to stay in their respective conferences collecting those big paydays. You can't brag about playing those big time conference schedules when it suits your argument and then turn it around and complain about having to play those same schedules when it doesn't go your way. If you can't hack playing a in a so-called tough conference, then give up all that cash and come join the Big East. Otherwise, stop whining.

Anonymous said...

Damn, still pretty sore Miami, VT and BC left you high and dry, huh? I'd say you're doing ok with Lousiville over Miami this year and WVU over UGA last year, take a deep breath and think round, orange ball and you'll make it through football season just fine.

Anonymous said...

Like it or not, West Virginia's got to make more of an effort to schedule tough non-conference opponents if they want to be taken seriously. The Big 10 and SEC teams don't because at least 2-3 teams on their conference schedules will be reliably good. The Big East is just too inconsistent year to year for WVU to have an SEC non-conference schedule and to make a claim for national respect.

You don't hear people saying the same thing about Louisville, because they went out and scheduled Miami and Kansas State, who may be down this year, but reliably are top 25 teams.

And I know about the whole left behind problem, but that's the point. WVU should have been knocking on every team in the top 25's door once they granted the 12th game. They've got only themselves to blame.

schiano for president! said...

the big east might be stronger than some think. two teams in the top ten and a rutgers squad trying to get into the top 20 is pretty strong. lets compare:

first off, the SEC is far & away the strongest, with 3-4 teams in the top 10 and 2-3 in the top 25, depending on the poll.

SEC- top 10 (3) top 25 (3)
ACC- top 10 (0) top 25 (4)
BEa- top 10 (2) top 25 (1)
B12- top 10 (1) top 25 (3)
B10- top 10 (2) top 25 (1)
PAC- top 10 (1) top 25 (2)

at least by this criteria, the big "least" is in decent shape. im not arguing who would win head to head. but the polls likem.

not bad for a conf that lost, supposedly, its top 3.

Anonymous said...

no props to Harris - or any other poll - who puts a team ahead of a team that beat them.

19. Virginia Tech
20. Georgia Tech

ummmm... So, even though GT beat VT, VT is still better? So much for all those compliments on the voters paying attention...

AP poll had the same thing though. I guess that game "didn't count"

Polls suck and it is a shame stupid voters influenece who plays for the national title.