Polls: Who can you trust?

Rob Weiss, FCS Update:

The 2009 season is off to a great start. The debate over who is the best team in the country is heating up more and more each week. Between the 3 major polls (AGS, Coaches, and TSN) there are 6 different teams with first place votes.

While Richmond is the consensus pick between the 3 polls, one has to wonder if this is based on this year’s performance, or if voters picked Richmond in the preseason and left them there.

I would like to see all polls wait until after week 5 of the season to start their voting. I think you would find the number one votes more equally spread out across teams like Villanova, Montana, Richmond, William and Mary, Northern Iowa and New Hampshire.

While I don’t think any one of those teams is a clear cut number one, I’d like to see what the polls would look like based solely on a teams resume.

I think we’d see South Dakota State and Massachusetts higher, and Appalachian State and Elon lower. We also might find Cal Poly, Furman, and Delaware out of the polls, with Florida A&M, Stephen F Austin, and Youngstown State in.

It’s clear that the majority of the voters in these polls do not compare resumes on a week to week basis. Most of them are sliding teams up and down with wins and losses. Teams who start off low or out of the polls can beat a top team and still end up in the middle, even though they may in fact be a top ten team.

Look at these examples:

Coaches Poll:

Cal Poly at 17. They started at 14 and have only dropped 3 spots. The Mustangs are clearly not the same team they were last year and have a 1-2 record. While the two losses were to FBS teams, they were to perennial cellar dwellers in non-BCS conferences. Coming into the season I expected Cal Poly to win both of them.

Montana State at 25. The Bobcats have hardly earned a ranking. After taking a beating from Michigan State, MSU beat lowly D-II school, Dixie State and then beat a weak Northern Colorado team, who on top of trying to build their program was fighting the injury bug.

Others recieving votes?

 Butler. The Bulldogs are 4-0. Deserving of votes, right? Not so fast. 3 of the 4 wins were against sub D-I opponents. 3! Their other win was an overtime victory over Morehead State, a team that gave St. Francis (PA) their first win in over a year when the Red Flash dominated them 31-0. Clearly the person who voted for them: A) Doesn’t pay attention or B) is a homer.

The coaches poll is flawed because most coaches are focused on their team and their opponents. They don’t watch the rest of the top 30 teams in the country. Most of the time the voting isn’t handled by the coaches anyway.


TSN Poll:

Weber State at #11. While the Wildcats shouldn’t be ruled out of the 2009 Big Sky race, they are entirely too high in the poll.  Last weekends last second victory over Portland state moved them to 2-2. Their other win came against 0-4 Idaho State. Yes the 2 losses came to FBS teams, but they could have won both of those games. In my opinion good teams find ways to win close games. 5 spots too high.

Cal Poly at #19. See coaches poll.

Others receiving votes?

The TSN has quite a few:

Winston-Salem State16 votes. Record? 0-4….seriously….

Jacksonville 8 votes. The Dolphins are 1-2 with no D-I wins. One of their losses was at home to Old Dominion, a first year team.

Butler 4 votes. See Coaches Poll.

Dayton 3 votes. 2-1 with a loss to a sub D-I school. The wins weren’t even impressive. Close games against weak schools.

Georgia Southern 1 vote. 1 vote too many. The Eagles are DOWN this year. They have a young team and have nothing to garner even one vote.

North Dakota State 1 vote. Only win is against Wagner. 1-3 heading into week 5.

San Diego 1 vote. Non scholarship team with a 2-1 record. Loss?  Northern Colorado. UNC is not a powerhouse, yet the USD lost by 19. Wins over a sub D-I school and weak non-scholarship Marist do not garner votes.

It’s clear to me that the TSN poll has too many Pioneer reps, or one very irresponsible Pioneer voter. The votes for an 0-4 WSSU just baffles me. The TSN poll could be a good poll if they cut the fat in their membership.

AGS poll:

Outside of Weber State and Cal Poly being too high, I dont have too many complaints. Every poll can be debated, but the AGS poll seems the most balanced at this point in time.

Others receiving votes?

Nothing too weird. Maybe there were some, but the AGS poll doesn’t list the teams with less than 5 votes.

The best thing about the polls is that they aren’t that important. We’re lucky enough to have a playoff system in place, and starting next year an extra 4 teams will get to join in. If you take care of business in your conference, you’re in, whether you’re ranked or not.

2013 CS Top 25 Poll

Week 11 | 11/11/2013 (Points)

1. North Dakota State Bison (300)
2. Eastern Washington Eagles (278)
3. Eastern Illinois Panthers (273)
4. Maine Black Bears (266)
5. Sam Houston State Bearkats (251)
6. Fordham Rams (247)
7. Southeastern Louisiana Lions (216)
8. Montana Grizzlies (208)
9. McNeese Cowboys (195)
10. Northern Arizona Lumberjacks (172)
11. Montana State Bobcats (169)
12. Charleston Southern Buccaneers (154)
13. William and Mary Tribe (148)
14. Youngstown State Penguins (143)
15. Towson Tigers (138)
16. Chattanooga Mocs (129)
17. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (116)
18. Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens (78)
19. Bethune-Cookman Wildcats (71)
20. Jacksonville State Gamecocks (65)
21. Princeton Tigers (54)
22. South Dakota State Jackrabbits (48)
23. Tennessee State Tigers (44)
24. Southern Utah Thunderbirds (33)
25. Lehigh Mountain Hawks (29)

Next 10 receiving votes:
26. New Hampshire Wildcats (10), 27. Samford Bulldogs (5), 28. Jackson State Tigers (4), 29. Harvard Crimson (3), 30. South Carolina State Bulldogs (2), 31. Wofford Terriers (1), 32. James Madison Dukes (1).

2013 TSN Top 25 Poll

Week 11 |11/11/2013 | (1st place votes)

1. North Dakota State Bison (156)
2. Eastern Illinois Panthers
3. Eastern Washington Eagles
4. Sam Houston State Bearkats
5. Fordham Rams
6. Maine Black Bears
7. Montana Grizzlies
8. Montana State Bobcats
9. McNeese State Cowboys
10. Towson Tigers
11. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
12. Northern Arizona Lumberjacks
13. Charleston Southern Buccaneers
14. Southeastern Louisiana Lions
15. Youngstown State Penguins
16. William & Mary Tribe
17. Chattanooga Mocs
18. Bethune-Cookman Wildcats
19. South Dakota State Jackrabbits
20. Lehigh Mountain Hawks
21. Delaware Blue Hens
22. Jacksonville State Gamecocks
23. New Hampshire Wildcats
24. Wofford Terriers
25. Princeton Tigers

Others receiving votes (points):
Samford 180, Tennessee State 142, James Madison 140, Southern Utah 133, Villanova 93, South Carolina State 75, Harvard 52, Northern Iowa 35, Central Arkansas 25, Jackson State 20, Eastern Kentucky 19, Georgia Southern 18, Furman 15, Cal Poly 14, Illinois State 14, Sacred Heart 10, Missouri State 7, UT Martin 6, Liberty 4, Southern Illinois 3, Jacksonville 2, San Diego 1, Florida A&M 1, Alcorn State 1.

2013 Coaches Top 25 Poll

Week 11 | 11/11/2013 | (1st place votes)

1. North Dakota State (26) 9-0
2. Eastern Illinois 9-1
3. Eastern Washington 8-2
4. Sam Houston State 8-2
5. Fordham 10-0
6. Maine 9-1
7. Towson 8-2
8. Montana 8-2
9. Coastal Carolina 9-1
10. Montana State 7-3
11. McNeese State 8-2
12. Charleston Southern 10-1
13. Northern Arizona 7-2
14. Southeastern Louisiana 8-2
15. Youngstown State 8-2
16. Bethune-Cookman 8-2
17. Lehigh 7-2
18. Chattanooga 8-2
19. South Dakota State 6-4
20. William & Mary 7-3
21. Wofford 5-4
22. Delaware 7-3
23. Jacksonville State 8-2
24. Princeton 7-1
25. James Madison 6-4

Others receiving votes:
New Hampshire 52, Harvard 26, Samford 24, Tennessee State 19, Southern Utah 16, Jackson State 11, Cal Poly 7, South Carolina State 4, Sacred Heart 4, Central Arkansas 2.

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