Mike Lantry, 1972
How To Get Your Ballot Spiked
This is probably of faint interest to most, but I may as well give my side of the story in this minor BlogPoll brouhaha, since I'm getting comments claiming I'm a pre-emptively sore loser or something:
San Jose State, whose inclusion on BGS' ballot for last week's blogpoll (long story) got us kicked out of the poll by Brian at Mgoblog, did what most of the top 25 did not do. They beat a school in a BCS conference, the second one they've played in as many weeks. Mgoblog threw out our ballot because he thought we were not taking the poll seriously enough and that we were screaming for attention with our unconventional Week 1 approach in which we rewarded teams that played well in week one, regardless of reputation or previous years' performance. Well, whatever. Mgoblog's preseason #2 (five spots ahead of Ohio State) and current #5 (one spot ahead of Ohio State) Iowa somehow managed to derail Syracuse (1-10 in 2005) in overtime. Mgoblog PRESEASON #2 IOWA scored 10 points in regulation against the Orangemen, who have won 1 of their past 13 games. They're just that daggone good.
Oooooooh... so... irritated. Let's leave aside Drew Tate's abdominal strain and my preseason research to focus on the matter at hand. This is a horrific misrepresentation of what happened. The bottom half of the BGS ballot was filled entirely with week one losers. So they "played well" but lost narrowly, and not necessarily to the cream of D-I. Other strong winners who featured high up in their preseason ballot disappeared entirely.
As a matter of course I review ballots that show up on any of the lists. That's what they're there for: to keep an eye on outlying ballots. Occasionally I'll come across something that's goofy and remove the ballot. For instance, YAYSports submitted a ballot after the deadline for the first week and then didn't update it for week two. His poll -- which still had Cal over Tennessee -- was clearly a preseason one; it got removed.
Also getting the boot last week was that wack ballot from Blue-Gray Sky. To my eternal regret I did not save a copy of it, but remember how SMQB's ballot was declared the BOLDEST(!) in the history of the poll? Well, BGS's ballot was fully two points higher on average deviation than SMQB's ballot, which is a huge margin. It also beat SMQB's ballot in the swing category by more than 100 points. When you have a devation that high it's less a matter of what's wack about your ballot than what isn't, but I remember two outstanding features of the poll that were foremost amongst the many reasons it got killed:
- Ohio State dropping from #1 to unranked after beating NIU 35-12 and being up 28-0 in about ten seconds.
- San Jose State... San Jose State... rocketing from unranked to #12 after a loss to Washington.
When SJSU entered the ballot they were 0-1, having lost to Washington. Washington features nowhere on their ballot and never did, but because they had a "good loss" against a BCS team they were inserted into the poll; UW was not. It was beyond the bounds of reason. My initial reaction was one of regret -- I assumed that the ballot entry form had developed some horrific, obscure bug and that I was going to be forced to kill BGS's ballot because of my own coding failures. I sent an email to that effect. I got this response, reprinted in full, from Jay:
No, believe it or not, I filled it out with some care. I was hoping we'd make one of the titled lists so we could talk about the folly of first-week polls in your comments section. If you notice, the first half of the poll are teams with what we deemed were good opening-week wins, and the second half are mostly teams that had close losses to otherwise "better" opponents. This is not an attempt to sabotage the blogpoll -- we think things will shake out to a more "sensible" ranking once more games are played -- but much like you vaulted Tennessee from unranked to #1, we figured we'd go nuts on the conventional rankings and just focus on teams that we thought played well against good competition.
This didn't change my mind, as it seemed an admission that the ballot they entered was not an attempt to rank the teams in order of projected competence but rather one to get on a List of Wacky to make a statement. I'll accept honest ballots no matter how deranged and perhaps even submit some deranged-ness myself, but there is a line and BGS crossed it. It was a cynical attempt to game the poll. I said as much, they responded, and I left it there.
So, moral of the story: if you do crazy things for attention I'll spike your ballot. BGS is welcome to submit ballots in the future, but they'll probably go on hunger strike instead. Dylan from BGS has anger management issues. A just and right God will smite Notre Dame this weekend.