“Absolutely Pathetic”: Why the AP Poll is So Terrible
September 14, 2011 9:02 pm, CST

By: Jon Carlisle (@thelizzle)

Some voters do not feel Florida is worthy of a spot in the Top 25. The Gators have given up three points in two games. AP Photo/John Raoux

Flint has accurately been on the coaches’ case this year for their joke of a poll, but if you dive into the AP Top 25 you’ll realize just how awful it is. And this morning, I figured it out. I know why the AP poll is so bad. It’s the voters!  I know, I know, this is a major breakthrough!

So, how did I get to this conclusion? It started when I read about the guy who didn’t have Arkansas in his Top 25 and I felt the need to investigate. Turns out, he’s Ray Ratto (@rattoCSN), a writer who pretends to be a TV guy in San Francisco.  He was tweeting about the Giants (a baseball team I’m told) Saturday night when the rest of us were knee-deep in the sport we love. His answer to the few Hog fans who have already let him know what they think is “It’s week 2. Relax. There are 13 other weeks. We’ll all know more as the season goes on.” So, you don’t know much right now, you’re saying?  Maybe that’s some research you could have done before filling out a ballot. I think Mr. Ratto is about to learn a lot more about college football fans. Maybe a phone call to Brad Paisley to talk SEC passion might be in order.

And it’s not just about Ray Ratto and Arkansas. There are plenty of other examples of voters who should not have any impact on anything. I understand the AP doesn’t figure into the final equation anymore, but it does have an impact. When #8 plays #12, people pay more attention that if it’s the same teams without numbers beside their names. When more people pay attention, a brand is extended, and the road to future success is paved a little more smoothly.

The people at pollspeak.com are onto something. They publish AP ballots each week, and point out the most extreme voters. For example, Jon Wilner  (@wilnerhotline) thinks Northwestern is better than Arkansas and Florida. He thinks BYU is better than Auburn and Virginia Tech. Also, check out Mike Hlas (@Hlas). He thinks there are 20 teams better than Nebraska!! That includes USF, which he has as a Top 5 team. But it’s hard to blame him, since he spent his entire Saturday (according to his twitter feed) at the Iowa-Iowa State game. That’s the conclusion I’ve reached… the people who vote on these polls don’t watch the football games!! Most of them are beat writers, assigned to one game on a Saturday, missing the rest of the action. Shouldn’t the poll be done by people who see the most college football? One voter admitted to a mistake this week. Mike DeRocco says he accidentally put Mizzou ahead of Arizona State because he wrote down the score wrong. Know how I knew Arizona State beat Mizzou? I watched the game!! It’s the same reason the coaches are so bad at it, they see two teams a week, theirs and one other.

Obviously, it’s time for change. We’ve already seen some change by the NCAA dumping the AP from the final formula, but we need more. The AP needs to switch to voters who see all and know all about college football. I can’t blame a guy for doing his job, but if his job is to spend all day watching a Colorado football game, he probably should not be asked to know what’s going on in 59 other stadiums that day.

What can we do as fans? All I can think to do for now is hold these guys accountable. In the twitter age, we have an avenue to do just that. At least ask them the questions and see if they have conviction enough to defend it, even if their answer is as dumb as Ratto’s.

Here are a few people some of you might want to share your opinion with.

Jon Wilner (@wilnerhotline) and Scott Wolf (@inside USC) ranked Arkansas 25th

Ray Ratto (@rattoCSN) did not rank Arkansas

Mike DiRocco (@mjdirocco), a Gators beat writer, and Seth Emerson (@sethemerson), a Georgia beat writer, were the only two who did not rank Auburn.

Wilner, Chad Cripe (doesn’t tweet, but find him at ccripe@idahostatesman.com) and Kyle Ringo (@KyleRingo) were the only three who didn’t rank Florida.

8 voters (including Wilner and Emerson) did not watch Baylor in week 1, and don’t have them ranked.

Scott Wolf (@inside USC) isn’t impressed by Oklahoma St. yet. He has the #8 Cowboys in the 17th spot in his poll.

And, Phil Miller (@FSNorthMiller) must think the Aggies are all hype. Texas A&M is #9 in the nation, but #16 on his ballot.


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