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• Down in a poll. Feelin’ so small. Alabama and LSU perch atop the AP Poll. This, for the moment, does not worry us. They will play each other and this will sort itself out for real this time and we continue to believe we will not be subjected to a re-rematch. We must believe. Of greater concern for us, as usual, is what is going on in the bottoms of this exercise in folly we, as a society, continue to refer to as the “Coaches’ Poll.” Wisconsin is ranked. This is problematic and dumb. There are a dozen other stupidities lurking behind this link; can you spot them all?
• Get those Lorax costumes pressed. We’re just a couple short weeks away from the restart of the Harvey Updyke trial, and while from an entertainment standpoint we truly resent this being staged during football season, it’s probably best to get it over with while the whole state’s distracted with football good and football bad.
• Mark Richt, refined meanie. Folks ask us sometimes if we miss cussing a blue streak on the job. We do not, because there are ways to make one’s point without uttering so much as a “consarnit” if you really work at it. It’s like writing poetry with a very strict verse structure. Consider this, from Mark Richt on Sunday, on the subject of Week 4 UGA opponent Vanderbilt: “They have a lot of belief, and they’re playing to win it. They’re doing a good job of it.” The Commodores (1-2) recorded their first win of the season Saturday against Presbyterian, after losing in consecutive weeks to South Carolina and Northwestern.
Our weekly highlight show of lesser FBS luminaries. Non-AQs and independents, be welcome.
• HAIL TO THE SUN BELT, SURE IS A FUN BELT, RA RA RA! What could top Utah State’s thrilling Friday night victory over Utah? Nothing short of Louisiana-Monroe taking a top 10 SEC team to overtime, on the road, and pulling out the win on a fourth-down quarterback dash. Said quarterback, Kolton Browning, has since been named Davey O’Brien Quarterback of the Week and a Walter Camp National Player of the Week honoree. Browning accounted for 481 of ULM’s 550 yards of offense, and four of the Warhawks’ five touchdowns. The Warhawks have their first win over a ranked team since leveling up to FBS, and to round out the weekly awards, have been named Week 2′s Tostitos Fiesta Bowl National Team of the Week. Last week it was Ohio. (A moment of cynicism: We love the attention being bestowed on non-AQs more than just about anybody right now, but this Tostitos shout out is pretty adorable considering how nigh-impossible it would be for the Bobcats or the Warhawks to actually make it into the Fiesta Bowl.)
• It is barely Week 3 and we are already out of poll puns. Idle in Week 2, Boise State is unranked in both major polls for the first time in four years. BYU is the only ranked team in this week’s AP Poll at No. 25, with Boise State, ULM (whee!), Ohio and Utah State also receiving votes. The Aggies’ lone vote is the program’s first since 1966; the Warhawks’ 23 are their first in team history. We hesitate to even mention the Coaches’ Poll for fear of helping its continued legitimacy, but teams receiving votes from disinterested voting SIDs include Boise State, BYU, Louisiana Tech, Ohio, Nevada and ULM.
• EA Sports loves USA, after all. EA Sports personnel have been spotted in Mobile, making preparations to incorporate South Alabama into the next edition of NCAA Football.
• The best news. Tulane’s Devon Walker is reportedly “alert and responsive” following spinal surgery. Tulane has set up an assistance fund in his name; for more ways to support the Walker family, click here.
• It is entirely possible that Arkansas will still be ranked in the “Coaches’” “Poll” when John-El is fired. Your post-Week 2 polls are out and are being met with the usual mix of exasperation and outright contempt. Alabama, USC, LSU and Oregon top the AP Poll, with Florida State and Oklahoma tied for fifth; the Coaches’ Poll favors the same six teams in a slightly rearranged order and some complete and total tomfoolery down in the double digits. When the steam currently emanating from your ears dies down (No love for Kansas State? Any sort of love for UNC?), please enjoy one of our favorite seasonal features, Bryan Fischer’s Poll Attacks.
• We were also really looking forward to constructing a reader poll that “ROLL TIDE” would surely win. Via the AP: “Big East commissioner Mike Aresco says there are no plans for the conference to change its name,” which is all kinds of too bad, because with the conference’s coast-to-coast reach, but dubious likability we were sort of hoping they would name it after Lee Greenwood.
• And that, as they say, is that. Mike Markuson, Wisconsin’s O-line coach, is Wisconsin’s O-line coach no more.
• Poll Tide, or something. Alabama and USC have swapped places in the first AP Poll of the regular season. The rest of the top 10, in descending order: LSU, Oregon, Oklahoma, Florida State, Georgia, Arkansas and a West Virginia-South Carolina tie. Boise State disappears from this week’s poll entirely, and Notre Dame makes its debut. ‘Bama also bounces up to the top of the Coaches’ Poll (all together now: “Which We Are Apparently Still Insisting Is A Real Thing”), and Bill Connelly, the smartest football person we know, wonders aloud (well, via a column) why we bother with polling in September. We wonder, too. We wonder a lot. We suppose it has something to do with this.
• Like Saban, like spawn. As if on cue: “[Less] than 24 hours removed from its dominant performance against the then-No. 8 Wolverines, Alabama’s players were called into a team meeting room, where coach Nick Saban essentially told them that they weren’t as good as everyone was saying they were.” And let’s hear from an acolyte: “‘Most teams never reach their dreams because they overestimate the event and underestimate the process,’ Dooley said.”
• Copyright-infringing trash talk, adieu. According to a billboard in Gainesville, Texas A&M is “The best academics & cleanest program in the SEC.” The Aggies’ trash talk game is beyond perfect for their new conference, by which we mean it is gleefully inaccurate and broadcast in giant letters. The billboard has apparently already been taken down. BOOOOOO.
• While you were lolling. We’re still at that honeymoon stage where we’ll watch anything remotely resembling college football, even if Kentucky’s school commercial did run immediately before the Wildcats dropped a pass and fumbled on consecutive plays. Louisville triumphed in this early rivalry game, 32-14. [BOX | RECAP] In evening action, Baylor walloped SMU, 54-29, with a 341-yard, four-touchdown passing performance from RGIII successor Nick Florence. [BOX | RECAP]
• We have a vote for a thing! Some nice people with unsound judgment have given us a vote in this year’s FBS Independent Players of the Week awards. Week 1′s top vote-getters: BYU quarterback Riley Nelson, BYU tight end Kaneakua Friel, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o and BYU punter/kicker Riley Stephenson.
• Please secure your homes against an incoming barrage of Apollo 13 jokes. We may have called Ohio beating Penn State correctly, and UTEP putting a scare into Oklahoma, but that just makes our first really big Inevitable Wrong Thing all the more potent, doesn’t it? Houston, our pick to win C-USA if UCF is ineligible, got dropped 30-13 by Texas State (that’s Texas STATE, yes) on Saturday, and this morning the school announced offensive coordinator Mike Nesbitt’s resignation. Cue Louisiana Tech sports information, with the Stat of the Week:
@siholly So far this season Louisiana Tech has faced/prepared for three offensive coordinators and played zero games. Stat of the week?
— Patrick Walsh (@LATechPWalsh) September 3, 2012
• Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Hey, American Gladiators is on! Ow. The Associated Press preseason Top 25 has been released, for whatever that’s worth. And while we’re on the topic of whatever that’s worth, a gentle reminder: Preseason polls are worth a good time-killing argument, plus a bonus argument over the usefulness of the poll’s actual existence in the case of the Coaches’ Poll, and that is all. Would you like to hear our argument? It’s a good one! Here goes: We think there’s a better than even chance Ohio goes undefeated this year (that’s the Ohio Bobcats, because would you look at that schedule), and not a single poll voter gave the Bobcats a single poll vote. (We do not have a vote, and that is a good thing, because these rankings would take forever to do well and we would rather be making jokes. If you would like to peruse the votes of the folks who actually do this thing, here they are.)
• Starkville down a top Dawg. Mississippi State wide receivers coach Angelo Mirando announced his resignation Sunday night for non-specified personal issues, which the Clarion-Ledger’s Brandon Marcello reports are not issues of the legal type.
• Those Ds were his Ds. Julius Peppers speaks out on the unfortunate publicizing of his college transcript.
• Back to school. Chris Brown has written many words on the Sluggo Seam that you should read.
• Injury report story hour. Utah quarterback Jordan Wynn is scheduled to return to practice today … Michigan defensive tackle Ondre Pipkins is up and about after a spinal injury scare … Iowa defensive lineman John Sawhill is giving up football due to injury concerns … Iowa presents another injured running back, right on schedule … and Tennessee’s tight ends are already lined up over a haunted burial ground of some sort, so just try not to jinx the rest of the Vols’ offense.
• Can’t fault his logic. Summer is the most frustrating point on the college football calendar when it comes to parsing coachspeak for actual facts. Every team had a really great summer. Every team’s new strength coach has moved it light-years beyond last year’s benchmarks. Offenses are crisper; defenses are really hunkering down (while playing faster at the same time). And every program’s immediate and entirely attainable goal is to win a conference championship.
Brady Hoke, like everyone else in his profession, spoke along these lines when he first took the reins at Michigan last year. The Wolverines went 11-2 and won the Sugar Bowl. Those two losses were conference losses and cost them a shot at the Big Ten title. Hoke’s self-assessment, therefore, is that he failed in his first year. This is our favorite thing any coach has said in months.
• We return one more time to Friday’s well. Previously on INTEGRITY OF THE COACHES’ POLL: Lane Kiffin and USA Today got in a snit over his vote in their poll party. Today’s episode: Kiffykins gives no bothers, and doesn’t even want to be in your stupid Coaches’ Poll. While we’re all here, this is a fine time to argue over USC’s crime statistics versus UCLA’s.
Lovingly curated light reading to speed you through to the weekend:
There are a couple things happening in Los Angeles right now that we’re going to sort of mash together here. See if you can keep up, because both tales are of vital importance to your very existence.
• The part where Jim Mora is all “LOL USC is full of murders” and then has to act like he’s sorry he said that. So UCLA’s new head ballcoach tried the white salmon trick on the radio, at the expense of his crosstown rivals. Here we have to go straight to excerpting the L.A. Times story on the matter because we don’t want you to miss a word:
Mora, discussing recruiting on the Roger Lodge radio show, said he makes a point to tell parents how safe it is at UCLA, noting, “We don’t have murders a block from our campus.”
The murder of two Chinese graduate students near the USC campus in April became international news. But Mora said Thursday that he was speaking only about the UCLA campus. “I just said our campus is safe,” Mora said. “I didn’t say anything about anyone else’s campus. I just said it about our campus. I didn’t mention another campus. We don’t have anybody getting murdered a block off of our campus.
“If anybody, whether USC or Cal State San Bernardino, is offended by the statement, then that’s their insecurity, not mine.”
Mora later delivered something at least remotely resembling an apology, although we are not precisely sure why he bothered. If you’re the guy who’s OK insinuating to parents that their sons might be murdered if they sign with the Trojans, and then bring up that recruiting tactic on live radio, at least stick the landing. Own that. (It’s also worth noting that we are absolutely certain this kind of gambit is employed in recruiting all over the country — but that you don’t hear those guys bringing it up on the radio. Ten points from Hufflepuff, J-Mo.) And, more importantly for internetting purposes, why on earth would you leave yourself open to the obvious and scathing retort?