"All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident." --Arthur Schopenhauer
The Week One BHGPoll ballot was accused of being "a stunt ballot," "dumb," and "modern art, or something," whatever that means. We were called smug, compared to an overrated Central American communist revolutionary (in direct contradiction to our previously-stated pro-capitalist tendencies), and asked to leave the Blogpoll. We were told we should have waited until week 4 to submit a ballot rather than point out the fact that everyone else is doing it wrong (while nobody said word one about the guy who keeps ranking Utah #1 for no reason whatsoever). Of all the slings and arrows, the most comical was the notion that this was some sort of statement on the process, as if we were pointing out the inanity of early polling and signaling our protest and voting for Ralph Nader. In any case, 'The Man' tried to erase it from history like it was the Copernican Revolution or Tropic of Cancer.
Tackle Eligible: Tulsa, Texas A&M, Oregon State, West Virginia, Arizona State, North Carolina
Watched: Georgia Tech-Clemson, Colorado-Toledo, Iowa-Iowa State, Michigan-Notre Dame, Ohio State-USC, parts of Wisconsin-Fresno St., Michigan State-Central Michigan, Houston-Oklahoma State, Navy-Louisiana Tech, Minnesota-Air Force, Purdue-Oregon
Interpret last week -- and this week, and every week from here on out -- as you may, but it was not intended as some sort of metaphysical musing on how stupid polling is. We all know how stupid polling is, and we don't have to look any further than last year's week one blogpoll for confirmation: Of the 75 ballots cast, just 9 picked Florida. When you're batting .120, it's clear the prognostication skills you are using to construct your 'traditional' ballots are lacking a certain foresight. It's no knock on the voters (we voted for USC, too), but it only goes to show it didn't take a first-place vote for Air Force to bring the problem to everyone's attention.
No, as last week's post tried to explain, the BHGPoll system is merely an attempt to fix the one logical gap in resume ranking. I'd explain the problem, but it's already been analyzed by the voice of the conservative bourgeois fatcat book-burning establishment himself, Brian Cook:
"[Resume ranking] is supposed to bat away the preconceived notions that feature heavily in things like the coaches poll (hello, preseason ranking of Michigan) and result in a crystal-pure poll, but it just removes the assumptions to another level. Okay, Kentucky beat Louisville. Who says Louisville isn’t going 3-9? Or Pitt or—dammit—Michigan for that matter? I don’t like it; we’ve had this debate before; we’ll have it again next year."
Every voter treats it as an all-or-nothing proposition, as if there were only two options: Traditional voters look at that paragraph and conclude resume ranking is bogus and theirs is the only way to vote. Resume rankers admit the problem exists, but believe their system remains superior. All we have done is ask what happens when all the assumptions -- the first-level of the traditionalists, the second-level of the resume rankers, and every level thereafter -- are removed from the equation. It's a debate worth having, except that, no, we won't have that debate. Instead, we'll simply ridicule anything that attempts to fix the problem as a prank, erase it from history, and make sure our poll is as squeaky clean as possible so all those hyperliterate Dennis Dodd readers think we know what we're talking about. Not only was the spiking unnecessary and short-sighted, but it stood in direct contrast to the spirit of the poll and blogging in general: to encourage debate, to discuss the credentials of the contenders, to point out the inconsistencies in a system where coaches who are too busy to watch any team but their own dictate who wins the championship, to find a different -- and, if we're lucky, better -- way of building the mousetrap. The fact that the spiking occurred was disappointing; the fact that the Inquisitor took the form of a blogger universally lauded for his analysis, reason, and unflappable allegiance to logic was kind of sad. It wouldn't have happened a year ago, and the only reason it happened this time was that logo at the top of the left-hand column. Given our new Viacom overlords, we guess we should have expected the ridicule. Next up is the violent opposition. Someone find us Glenn Beck and a half-dozen teabaggers. You can probably start the search in the comments of Dennis Dodd's latest opus.
In any case, it's Westward Ho the Wagons, where Cincinnati's massive point differential against two 1-1 teams (even with a reduction for a I-AA opponent) garners them the top spot. Cal's numbers are remarkably similar, and come up slightly short. The Big XII's general aversion to I-AA games earns them five spots in the top twelve; of those five teams, only Kansas played a game against the lesser division. Clearly, the poll remains in a state of flux: Twelve new teams (including #1 Cinci) enter the poll, as eight teams from last week's poll lost, two (Ole Miss and Arizona State) did not play, and two (Michigan and Texas A&M) won by smaller margins and had their schedule strength fall with losses by their previously-vanquished foes.
The pundits spent most of yesterday harping on the Big Ten's struggles with the MAC. The criticism is sure to get louder following Ohio State's last-second loss to Southern Cal. Again, as last week, it's almost entirely unwarranted.
As a point of comparison, let's compare the much-maligned Big Ten and the vaunted Big XII. Through two weeks, the Big Ten holds an 18-4 record; the Big XII is 16-6. The Big Ten's 4 losses have come to USC, Missouri, Oregon, and Central Michigan; the Big XII's are to BYU, Iowa, Houston, Louisiana-Lafayette, Colorado State, and Toledo. There is certainly little doubt that the upper eschelon of the Big XII is as good or better than the top of the Big Ten, unless you're counting one-loss Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in that upper eschelon. There is no basis for any claim that the Big XII is better than the Big Ten right now, other than the same "sight test" used by pollsters to tell us how good Oklahoma and Oklahoma State were in the first place. And you wonder why we throw out preseason predictions in the poll...