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Don't Even THINK Of Ranking Michigan In Your Top 25

Illustration for article titled Don't Even THINK Of Ranking Michigan In Your Top 25

Dan Shanoff writes a weekly college football column for Deadspin. Email him to let him know what you think.


Not that they would ever let me participate, but I know what I would do if I was a voting member of the AP Top 25 (or advising a coach who votes in the Coaches' Top 25):

Exile Michigan entirely.

Certainly for this week. Possibly, punitively, for as many weeks until the Wolverines lose the stink of humiliation. That could take a while.

When the official polls come out today, I simply won't understand if Michigan is still in the Top 25. Hell, as a self-respecting college football fan, I'll be outraged.

I don't even want to see them listed under the "Also Receiving Votes," because that implies that at least some voters thought Michigan was rank-worthy.

Presumably, Michigan's pollster-defenders will point to their preseason Top 5 ranking. I would counter that "inertia" is no reason to leave a team in the Top 25, when all we have to go on is a single performance.

The preseason poll was, at best, a guess- - immediately to be remedied and revitalized in the face of actual on-field evidence. Hell, pollsters should want to overhaul their preseason guesswork.


The problem is: Too many pollsters use the preseason Top 25 as the anchor for their entire season's ballot work, rather than recognize it for the empty summer debate-fodder that it is.

(Want proof? Look at how many pollsters keep USC as the No. 1 team, simply because they were the No. 1 team in the preseason poll and didn't lose. Nevermind that if you actually watched the game, the Trojans sure as hell didn't play like a No. 1 team, when other teams looked more worthy — this week, at least. But why would a pollster let actual game results get in the way of maintaining ballot consistency from preseason to Week 1?)


So while I'm punishing Michigan , let me throw out another one: Any pollster who put Michigan in their Top 25 ballot this week should lose their privilege of voting.

There is no reason that, with more than 60 NCAA teams that actually won their season-openers (most against — gasp! — 1-A opponents), a team that is 0-1 with that one loss coming to a 1-AA team (again: at home!) should be ahead of 25 of them.


Forget the "I'm entitled to my opinion" defense most voters will give you: Any voter who keeps Michigan in their Top 25 appears to know so little about college football that they shouldn't be given this ultimate responsibility.

Unfortunately, the coaches — as part of their own poll's DNA of chicanery — won't release the individual ballots on a week-by-week basis. Maybe that's because they don't want the "coaches" who "voted" to be caught unaware that the assistant SID who actually DID fill out the ballot did something inane... like list Michigan in the Top 25.


AP voters should be held to a higher standard: Each voter should declare where they stood on Michigan this week, complete with a defense of the indefensible. (Pay particular attention to where the Michigan-beat voters rank the team they depend on access for to do their jobs.)

However, no matter who they work for, if ANY voters who continued to rank Michigan in their Top 25 happen to "cover" college football for your local newspaper, I feel badly for you, because it would be hard to take their reporting or analysis seriously.


Ideally, before voters made the mistake of plugging in " Michigan," they should have stopped to consider whether they should really be writing in "Appalachian State" in Michigan 's place.

(Honestly: Would Michigan fans even want to see their team in the Top 25 this week? With that big ol' "0-1" staring them in the face. With the sarcastic comments coming from other fans. With the understanding that Top 25 placement would be a "rep" move — presumably out of pity?)


Michigan may yet earn their way back into the Top 25 — I'm not even sure a home win over Oregon next week will do it for me, although that win is hardly a sure thing anyway.

But for now? Top Nothing.

(UPDATE FROM SHANOFF: So the coaches and media pull the second-biggest upset of the week in college football, defying my low expectations and yoinking Michigan from the Top 25. It's rare to have your faith in such a perennially infuriating group of humanity restored, even partially. I tip my cap to those who left them off entirely.


No team in the 18-year history of a 25-team AP poll has ever plummeted further in one week. Michigan still received 39 poll points from some asinine AP voters, including a 16th-place vote from Wayne Phillips of the Greenville Sun in Tennessee.

The coaches nearly let the Wolverines in: Michigan was ranked 27th, and 22 of 60 coaches had Michigan in their Top 25, including - reportedly - one who had Michigan ranked 10th. Whoever that coach was REALLY needs to explain themselves.


(I have my own theory: Mike Bellotti of Oregon, which plays Michigan next, has a vested interest in playing as high-ranked a team as possible. Mike, are you the Michigan Mystery Moron?)

This Week's Hot Bandwagon: "F.C.S." They picked the wrong time to change it from the classic "1-AA" to the impenetrable "F.C.S.", which stands for "Football Championship Subdivision."

Apparently the division formerly known as "1-A" is formally known as "F.B.S.," or "Football Bowl Subdivision." (Or, for those with a sense of humor about 1-A's lack of a 1-AA-style playoff, "Football B.S.")


This must be the worst NCAA marketing decision since "B.C.S." The "lower" division claims "Championship." The "higher" division gets "Bowl." That 1-AA marketing team knew something Michigan coaches didn't, obviously.

My BlogPoll ballot Top 10 this week*:
1. West Virginia
2. LSU
3. Louisville
4. Cal
5. Virginia Tech
6. Florida
7. USC
8. Wisconsin
9. Rutgers
10. Arkansas
Honorary: Appalachian State
Intriguing: Georgia , TCU, Penn St , Miami , Tulsa
Full ballot here.


(* - For the record, I didn't even THINK about ranking Michigan in my Top 25. I'm sure some/many of my BlogPoll colleagues have Michigan in their Top 25. While the media and coaches are predictable in their limp Michigan-backing, I would have expected better from bloggers.)

Next Saturday's Must-See Games (picks in bold):

Virginia Tech at LSU: If you're one of the few — cough! — who picked VA Tech to win the national title, this is the season-maker/-breaker, matching up the two best Ds in the country.


TCU at Texas : "This Year's Boise " top-contender TCU blanked Baylor in Week 1. Texas barely survived against Arkansas State . All signs point to "Upset."

Oregon at Michigan : If the Wolverines can lose at home to a 1-AA team, what will they do against a Top 25-ish Pac-10 team? Dare to dream: Michigan 0-2?


Miami at Oklahoma : New Canes coach Randy Shannon had it easy in his debut vs. Florida Int'l. At Norman is an entirely other matter.

South Carolina at Georgia : I underrated the Dawgs against Oklahoma State , but all bets are off against the Ol' Ball Coach.


Notre Dame at Penn State : After Paterno's team put up 59 in a shutout and Weis' guys stunk it up, it's looking ugly for the Irish.

South Florida at Auburn : Are the Bulls for real? A win over Auburn (who barely avoided being upset by Kansas State on Saturday) would be huge for USF's (and the Big East's) cred.


Nebraska at Wake Forest : Was the Huskers' 52 in a win over Nevada legit? Wake is 0-1, but put up a fight on the road at underrated BC.

Attention, readers in Gainesville : I'll be making my annual pilgrimage down to the Swamp next week. Who's got a tailgate I can crash drop by? Drop a line to danshanoff[at]gmail[dot]com. The usual comments are welcome, too.