Rants, comments, thoughts and funny - mostly funny - on all things Michigan and college football.

If you have ideas, tips, links or pictures for the blog, e-mail us at: MichiganZone at gmail dot com.

Thanks for checking out the M Zone. And if you enjoy the site, please pass the link on to a friend or two. We'd sure appreciate it.

Twitter: @MZoneBlog


Best Of Tat and Tresselgate

M Zone Videos

Best Of MZone 2.0

Best Of The Original MZone

Tosu Favorites

MZone Archive

Monday, October 08, 2007

Why bother to even play the games?

Saturday, USC lost at home to 41 point underdog Stanford, a team that had been outscored 141-51 in its three Pac-10 losses and was using a QB making his first ever start.

And how did the USA Today Coaches Poll and the Harris Interactive Poll - the two polls used to help determine the BCS title game participants - "punish" the Trojans for what many are calling, point spread-wise, the greatest upset in college football history? By dropping them from the top spot in both of those polls all the way down...to #7.

Then there's Illinois. Ron Zook's resurgent team played undefeated and previously-fifth ranked Wisconsin Saturday. The Badgers carried the nation's longest winning streak, 14, into the game. But the Illini shocked the Badgers, 31-26.

So what happened in the Coaches and Harris polls? Wisconsin dropped from #5 to #15 in both. And Illinois? After beating ranked teams two weeks in a row (and with their lone loss being a six point defeat at the hands of undefeated and 11th ranked Missouri - a game in which Mizzou had to intercept an Illini pass at the 1 yard line with :51 seconds left to preserve victory), Illinois entered the polls for the first time this season at...#19.

What crock of shit.

If these pollsters are going to give more weight to which is the better team on paper, or based on preseason hype, or to the "name" program - instead of what happens on the field - they might as well not even bother to rank teams.

How can anyone justify USC's continued lofty ranking unless it's some lifetime - or maybe Pete Carroll-time - achievement award for the previous couple of seasons? Because such a ranking can't be based on what happened on the field this year. The week before Stanford's history-making upset, the Trojans struggled against 2-3 Washington. And USC's "big" victory over Nebraska earlier in the season suddenly doesn't look so good after undefeated Missouri beat the Huskers even worse - yes, the same undefeated Missouri team which is ranked four spots lower although they have more impressive wins.

More impressive, that is, if you base your ranking on what's happened this season rather than what was supposed to happen. Illinois wasn't supposed to be as good as they are. But somebody apparently forget to tell them...and the pollsters. So not only do the Illini get punished in the rankings, but teams such as Mizzou, who beat them before folks knew how good they were, do as well by not getting proper credit.

And Wisconsin, although returning a load of starters from last season's 11-1 team - the two primary reasons for its top ten preseason ranking - has struggled all season against such juggernauts as UNLV and The Citadel. However, the pollsters in the two polls that count seem to still be basing their rankings on last season and this June.

And those are just the most egregious examples of poll bs this week. BS that would be simply a head-scratcher if it didn't hold such sway and affect so much in the sport of college football.

Yes, I know where you're going next: unfortunately, a debate today - early October, 2007 in the middle of the season - about a playoff won't change anything this year. Thus, I'd like to instead offer a small tidbit of advice to the folks making the decisions - and filling out the polls - who do impact the game to such a large degree for the foreseeable future: get your heads out of your asses! Pay attention to what's happening on the goddamn field this season! Just because a team was ranked high by Phil Steele in the dead of summer based on how the spring game went doesn't mean you have to keep them ranked high when this season turns out differently than predicted!

Look, I know polls, by their very nature, are an inexact science. But how about some common sense and basic logic? Because you're embarrassing yourselves and, more importantly, the game with crap like this.


MonkeyWrench32 said...

*standing ovation*

I was PISSED when I saw the new polls come out. I'm sure that the BlogPoll will be much better than what these so-called "experts" have put out.

Katie said...

Applause Yost. The poll is a disgrace, what about 2 time loser Florida still in the top 15??

Kraut said...

But, but ... playing the Pac-10 and SEC is so tough ... how can you call to drop them that far when they have such a tough schedule?

(I'm kidding, of course ... I was really pissed to see the polls, too.)

Der Schatten said...

Ummm, Kraut. 2-loss or not, I don't think anyone in the Big Televen wants a piece of the Gators.

Da Braylon said...

what kills me is that when michigan lost to appy state, they dropped completely out of the rankings. UM was favored by a lot i'm sure, but not 41, or at least I would not imagine by that many. USC loses to a 41 point under-dog (with their 1,234,648 home game winning streak) and drop 6 spots. it's amazing the amount of respect (or obsession) the media has with that piece of shit institution.

Crazyswordsman said...

Thank you, Yost. You're the only one brave enough to tell everyone this. I, too, am pissed at this week's poll. How the hell the TrOJans manage to be a top ten team after that loss is beyond me. Especially after what Appy State did to us. Goes to show you the media loves two schools best of all: Notre Lame and U$C.

And for all the Florida defenders, remember they lost to Auburn a week ago, who lost to lowly Mississippi State. Yeah it was LSU this week, but Florida could very easily be a one loss team. They're not.

surrounded in columbus said...

neither poll has much reason to it. how do you take schools like Mizzou or UC and leave them out of the top ten behind so many one loss teams? i think a lot of pollsters look down their list and compare not a team's record, but which teams they think would beat another. i.e.; "well, USC would be Mizzou if they played, so i'll rank the Trojans ahead of them".
of course this is inconsistent w/ ranking a team ahead of another team that they've already lost to- wisconsin being ranked ahead of Illinois in the coaches poll.

actually, the coaches poll seems (to me) more screwed up than the AP. the cock's lost relatively close to LSU & are ranked 12. Va Tech was blown out by LSU, but is ranked 10. likewise, in the "also receiving votes" portion, PSU is still getting more votes than michigan, despite both teams having 2 losses and michigan having won the head to head.

if there are pollsters out there who just aren't going to vote for michigan all season because we lost to a DI-AA school? good for them- i can't blame them. but that doesn't explain the rest of the chaos in the polls. doesn't explain big east wvu being ranked ahead of undefeated UC, or usc losing to a 40 pt dawg dropping 5 or 9 places, instead of a dozen or more> if the penalty for losing to a 40 pt dawg di-aa school is dropping 20+ places, shouldn't the penalty for losing to stanford be at least half that?

Out of Conference said...

Yeah, polls are crap. I think a lot of the reason for the big discrepency in # places dropped after a loss have to do with the impression of a team's strength overall. Wisky, Kentucky, and others have been riding high in the polls for the sole reason they're undefeated. As soon as they notched losses, they basically lost the only reason pollsters saw to keep them in the top 10. Had Wisky been kicking the crap out of opponents and playing well- then I believe they would still be in the top 10 or at least top 13. Kentucky didn't have the skillset that Wisky has in terms of players- to date however, they've been playing like they have. Still, notching a loss popped their only balloon holding them up. USCw: basically they would be competitive against shitty NFL teams regardless of their record, so perhaps pollsters believe a team's strength and skillset should be a big measure of where they should be ranked. I don't like USCw, but can realy not explain the polls in any other way.

John Oliver said...

More fuel on the Coaches poll fire...it should also be noted that USC is still ranked ahead of Oregon, whose loss was at the hands of the now #3 team in the country. As opposed to USC's loss to a 40-point underdog in Stanford, at home. What a joke.

surrounded in columbus said...

and let's not forget just plain laziness. a lot of these guys- coaches and sportswriters- don't pay a lot of attention to their ballot. remember last year when FLA went from 4th to 2nd in a week? a lot of spin doctors explained that pollsters hadn't paid much attention to who they were voting 3rd/4th, but when it suddenly became a choice (between Michigan @ 3 or FLA @ 4) of which was #2? they THEN took a closer look. that may be truer than they want to admit.

i agree you get a lot of "they just had a bad night", drop them down a few, and let it go. i also think there's a lot of "fudge factor" in the comparisons.

finally, there's always a sense this will "work itself" out in the end. UC, USF, & WVU will eventually play a round robin. Oregon, USC, & Cal will do that too. over the next month or so the teams in the same conference will either take turns knocking each other out, or one team will sweep and emerge on top. once that happens, it will make stacking the top ten easier. so why waste a lot of time on it now??

Cory said...

Come on guys, who said the polls are anything more than a popularity contest anyway, there is no real reason to it?

However, being a longtime USC fan I am a little surprised at not dropping further in the polls. Yet the Trojans were hardly playing with a full deck. The QB broke a finger in the 2nd QTR, two starting offensive line out, backups are nursing injuries, leading tailback out, 3rd string cornerback in, big time linebacker out, and more.

Let me ask the Big Blue fans again, if Hart was out, Henne out, two offensive lineman out, etc etc. how would you expect to play?

The Trojans are not the same team they started with at the beginning of the season, eight starters out, others playing hurt. So what you say? That's part of the game.

USC won't be healthy for another couple of weeks, and will not this year have the original starting team back ever.

Cheer up guys, the odds of USC winning out now are extremely slim, evena top 10 finish against all odds.

Fight on!


CaliGirl said...

As an avid college football watcher, and working in the sports industry, I was OFFENDED by the rankings. This strongly shows you CANNOT have pre-season rankings...who is to say that Michigan WAS #5 pre-season? Because we look good on paper???

I understand we lost to a 1-AA team, but at least that team won their division 2 years in a row, and would kick the crap out of the Cardinal. When was the last time Stanford had a winning season??? Michigan will be punished all season, I get that, but to not punish SC is a travesty to college football watchers everywhere.

Rankings are a joke! The media likes the story line of JD Booty going home to play LSU in the title game blah blah blah and if they dropped SC too low in the rankings they wouldn't be able to claw their way back to the top.

I agree with what everyone is saying, you can't judge a team on PAST performances, judge them on what they are doing on the field THIS MOMENT!

Ok, I am off my soapbox....(I'm only preaching to the choir)

srudoff said...


If USC is not the same now as they were to start the season, then why in the hell should they be ranked NOW based on what they were like to start the season? Rank them according to how they are now - probably #12 or #13. USC's qb broke his finger mid-game - Stanford STARTED their backup and played him the whole game.

WingRG said...

Der schatten,

the Gay-tors would struggle with Illinois, and i don't think the Bucks would overlook them like they did last year. You can toot your own horn all you want, but don't you think anyone in the Mid-west is scared of the Gators.

Paulie Buckeyes said...

Right on Yost. BIG props for sticking up for the Illini here.

1.) eliminate USA and AP polls prior to week 8 (including pre-season polls). This will eliminate a lot of the hype-based influence as well as some of the prestige bias.

2.) If USC drops from 2 to 7, then Michigan should not have dropped from the polls after losing to App. State. Appalachian State beats Stanford IMO. No, I really don't like Michigan, but they were screwed. Based on the pollsters logic (in regards to USC and FLA), UM should be in the top 15-20 by now.

Matt said...

I used to care about rankings. The truth is that they only matter at the end of the season when you are deciding #1 and #2 to play for the championship game. Every other bowl game goes to teams based primarily on their conference standing.

It's all bullshit.

WillinSacto said...

Even though we have polls at the FCS level, Yost's point is the main reason why we have the NCAA Div. I Football National Championship. 16 (soon to be 18) teams fight it out on the field...not some BS poll. Thank God the Football Committee doesn't take into account as much the FCS polls.

Look at it this way, at least Michigan can still win the Big Ten and get to the Rose Bowl this year despite those two losses.

Matt said...

But the truth is that this season has made no sense whatsoever. I had a feeling USC would lose eventually, just not to Standford.

Clemson started off hot but now sucks.
How the hell did Colorado beat OU, who destroyed Miami, an okay team?

I feel bad for Utah, even though they were once coached by Urban Meyer. They were considered a longshot for the BCS because of their tough OOC schedule against Oregon St, UCLA, and Louisville. Well guess what? They lost to the least tough of those 3, and Hawaii is now the favorite to "crash the BCS party." And how did UCLA get destroyed--I understand them losing, but getting destroyed??--by Utah and then lose to ND?

Utah had a slow start, clearly. UCLA should fire Carl Dorrell, that's for sure! ND did get a little better. They sucked so much in the beginning because of Charlie Weis's ego and shortsightedness.

oldwestside said...


"Let me ask the Big Blue fans again, if Hart was out, Henne out, two offensive lineman out, etc etc. how would you expect to play?"

That is exactly what Michigan has faced, minus hart. We've had Henne out, completely reshuffled our offensive line because of injuries (4th stringers start), Manningham benched, our best LB's in street clothers, our TE injured, etc.

I'm not pimping UM over USC here; it's not an excuse for a loss to Stanford at home.

SA said...

Kudos Yost. Kudos.

I'm not even going to bring up Michigan because everyone has already said it. Why is Georgia still in these polls? Let's see: lost to USCe AT HOME, get blown out against Tennessee and still ranked? What about Hawaii? Look, I don't watch WAC football, but they're undefeated. Cincinnati's ranking will just make me scream.

I would say fuck the pollsters, but that's too good for them.

beast in 'bama said...

A bit of a threadjack here, but I owe you and any other pro-Les Miles UM fan an apology after that heavyweight bout Saturday night.

I've been dinging The Hat for a long time, ever since his Okie Lite teams couldn't hold 4 TOUCHDOWN halftime leads against my Longhorns two years in a row. And ever since he lost two games last year to Auburn and Florida - games the Tigers had absolutely no business losing.

I'm giving you all of this now false justification for doubting Miles to say that I was wrong about him - he can coach at least a little. I'm not totally sold yet, and that's mainly due to Urban Meyer's own coaching meltdown in that game.

But I will say this: He coached a damn fine game Saturday against a quality opponent, and you won't see me ding him anymore.

LSU deserves to be #1 right now. I don't think there's any controversy there.

whetstonebuck said...

Good stuff. One could see a lot of this carnage coming because of the tendency to overrate certain teams. Yet, some loses just came out of the blue. One of the main reasons I love college ball.

This year, being in the top five is an invitation to sit in the death seat. I was so glad to see tOSU down in the polls at the start of the season. Now, I'm feeling anxious.

The rest of the season should be a blast. Still a rough gauntlet to run through for many teams.

Andy said...


While I agree that the Gators look like mortals recently...

How do you "overlook" a team you are playing in the national championship game ?

WingRG said...


i'm not sure (it really bothers me that they did). But anyone that's seen OSU last year will tell you that the team didn't show up on Jan. 8th. If i had to explain it, i think it comes from seating around for 51 days and listening to everyone (media/fans) telling the players that they're the best team and that the other team doesn't stand a chance.

It's clear to me that the Bucks didn't show up that day. It's also clear to me that as long as there's anyone left on the team that suffered through that embarassment, it won't happen again.

Victoria said...

I hope Illinois wins out and gets to the title game. The Big Ten needs to make a statement and overcome the disrespect we've brough on ourselves with lackluster play. tOSU had its shot and started the downward spiral with the shameful loss to Florida and Michigan (my alma mater) doesn't deserve a top bowl after those first two loses. Really us getting to the Rose Bowl, unless the Big Ten winner gets the title game, would be a disgrace given our level of play. Let's not become the Big East.

whetstonebuck said...

Geez, Louise,

You get to the title game ranked #1 in the country and end up losing (it happens) and it's off to the land of the misfit toys?

That's a pretty high bar.

Buckeyehusker said...

While I agree that the polls are complete crap, I just couldn't resist posting a reply to voctoria on how tOSU does not deserve to go because they "had their chance". Come on now....bit harsh, don't 'cha think? You lose one year (and someone HAS to lose, remember) and you should be banished from the chance the following year, regardless of how you play on the field THAT year? I would hate to think I am smelling sour grapes. If tOSU makes it there, then they deserve it. If michigan makes it to the Rose Bowl, then they deserve it. Its all in how the season ends, not begins.

TitleIX said...

hear hear Yost.
It will be interesting to see what the BcS computers do to the rankings once other variables are factored in.
The pundits will all be talking about the "huge shake up" in the polls, when in actuality it will be a well-needed CORRECTION.
(underlying assumption is that the BcS is a valid measure which it isn't but go with me on this one..)

Worse than sorority rush, these damned polls

Yost said...

LOL re: sorority rush, T9.

And so true about it being a correction rather than shake up.

surrounded in columbus said...

correction or shake up, it doesn't really mean an improvement. there may be a gaggle of one loss teams that are objectively better than some of the undefeated remaining, or, who by the end of the season, will be better.

look at last year's polls. painful as it is to admit, tosu and michigan both were highly over rated for most of the season. fans for either team can concoct excuses, but the truth is that both usc & fla were both much better teams- coaching & talent- than any big ten team.

there's no promise that this shake up will really fix anything, nor any of the changes down the road. the polls will continue to give you a "ranking" of #s 1 & 2, and the BCS will give you a match up game, but until you have a playoff? you'll never who really is best.

Mikoyan said...

I would almost rather see a return to the pre-BCS days if they are not going to have a playoff. The polls suck and there is too much gamesmanship going on in the Coaches Poll (I wonder how many times a rival of one couch has been voted down because of that). Neither poll is terribly objective.

I also agree with the notion that we shouldn't have a poll until about the 4th or 5th week of the season. Under the current system, a team can start at #1 and as long as they keep winning, will stay there. Sometimes they will stay there if the lose by a small amount. It takes close to a miracle for a team to come from the bottom of the pack. It is next to impossible for a team from one of the non-annointed conferences to crack the hallowed ground (I can't imagine a Boise State getting to 1 or 2).

One more slant against the polls, they pretty much encourage teams to run up the score. Most coaches know that sportwriters (or other coaches) can't watch every game. They do however see the final score, so if a team has a chance they will try to get more points than really needed. This is not sportsmanship. I think the polls also encourage scheduling the cupcakes since you can easily amass points against them.