1. What's the biggest ripoff in this preseason poll? Either pick a team that's offensively over or underrated, or you can rag on a particular voter's bad pick (hey, we're all adults here, we can handle it).
In my opinion, Miami at #9 is too high. The team, and to an extent the program, are in shambles. They were poised for a title run last year and fell apart against Georgia Tech. The off season has been filled with off the field controversies and distractions. Larry Coker has to be thinking his head is on the chopping block if he doesn't get his program under control. I think this team is set up for a disappointing season.
2. What should a preseason poll measure? Specifically, should it be a predictor of end-of-season standing (meaning that a team's schedule should be taken into account when determining a ranking), or should it merely be a barometer of talent/hype/expectations?
Personally, I can't stand preseason polls. I would prefer the pollsters waited until week 4 to put out a poll. But polls create excitement and excitement drives television ratings and television ratings drive advertising revenue. So I had to come up with a ballot for this against my wishes. So I based my ballot one which teams position by position look like the best teams on paper. I tried not to take scheduling into account and estimate where a team would end up at the end of the year. I looked at returning starters and player skill level.
3. What is your biggest stretch in your preseason ballot? That is to say, which team has the best chance of making you look like an idiot for overrating them?
I thought long and hard about putting Iowa at #4, but decided to give them a shot. I think Drew Tate will have a monster year. They are an experienced team that underachieved last year. Georgia at #6 also has me hanging out there.
4. What do you see as the biggest flaw in the polling system (both wire service and blogpolling)? Is polling an integral part of the great game of college football, or is it an outdated system that needs to be replaced? If you say the latter, enlighten us with your new plan.
The polling starts too early and it makes it too hard for a team to overcome their preseason mis-expectations. Suppose a team starts unranked and smokes every opponent going undefeated. They may shoot up to #10 pretty quickly, but then they hit a wall where you cannot possibly move up until someone in front of them loses. Often the surprise teams are the ones that find themselves sitting at #3 at the end of the year shut out of the title game (Hello Auburn!).
As far as the blogpoll goes, I like how Brian points out the biased homers, but I would be interested to see if people punish their rivals in the rankings.
5. You're Scott Bakula, and you have the opportunity to "Quantum Leap" back in time and change any single moment in your team's history. It can be a play on the field, a hiring decision, or your school's founders deciding to build the campus in Northern Indiana, of all godforsaken places. What do you do?
I would go back to 1999 at the end of the Minnesota game in Beaver Stadium. I would tip off the coaches to protect against the Hail Mary down the left sideline. That play set up the Gophers for the winning field goal, but more than that it spun that `99 team, which had national title aspirations, into a downward spiral where they lost the next two games to end a disappointing season. Beyond that it seemingly represented the high water mark for the program as the spiral continued over the next five years until 2005. Maybe things could have worked out differently if they had stopped that play.