Polls are flawed. Polls are subjective.
Polls cause arguments that can’t be won by anyone.
Preseason polls are the worst and unnecessary, while postseason polls are ok (and necessary), but still inherently flawed.
South Carolina finished with its highest ranking ever in the final coaches poll, coming in at number seven. However, the two teams that beat the Gamecocks – Florida and LSU – finished behind us.
One of the teams we beat – Georgia – finished ahead of us.
That is because when teams lose, they fall. When teams win, they rise, or at worst stay where they were the previous week. It’s automatic.
So when #6 South Carolina beat #5 Georgia, we rose a little, and they fell a little.
The next week we lost to a top 5 team and Georgia was idle. We fell a little, they rose a little.
Then the next week we lost to a top 5 team again, and Georgia won again. We fell a little, they rose a little. And all of a sudden the team we beat just three weeks prior, by four touchdowns no less, was deemed the better team once again. At least according to the rankings.
Certainly there are variables that lead to more precipitous drops or greater climbs in the polls, but much of your final status is determined by when you lose as much as to whom you lose.
So when I looked at the final top 25 and saw Notre Dame at number three, I just had to do something about it. With apologies to Louis Nix III, we all know they’re not the third best team in the country, right? Not even close.
So, I gave it the old eye test. Who looked the best for the most number of weeks throughout the season, combined with who looked the best at the close of the season. Throw records out (somewhat) and throw statistics out (completely). And throw out transitive properties, because we all know that definitely doesn’t work.
So I put together some unidentifiable criteria in my mostly empty skull and my flawed (but less flawed) Eye Test Top 25 looks something like this:
- Alabama – The Tide was teetering at the end of the year. They lost to TAMU, and barely squeaked by UGA to get into the title game. Then a month-long dose of Saban game-planning combined with a significantly overmatched opponent made Bama look like one of the greatest teams ever. I’m not taking anything away from U of A, they’re a dynasty, plain and simple. I’m just saying the gap between 1 and 2 is not as great as you might think.
- Texas A&M – Pummeled everything in their path once they learned who they were. An A&M-Bama matchup for the title would’ve been a dandy, and in a 16-team tournament format I think would’ve happened. Alas, Alabama gets the edge because, you know, National Championship and all.
- Oregon – I almost have to put them here so I don’t look SO much like an SEC homer. I admittedly didn’t see them play much this year, and there were supremely impressive when I did. Still, they had their problems along the way. Even so, they stick at #3.
- South Carolina – Hey, this is a Gamecock blog, you really expect me to put us behind Georgia? It’s truly a toss-up for the #4 slot, and because of USC’s dominating 35-7 victory in October I have to give this one to the home team.
- Georgia – It pains me to say it, but Georgia was awfully good by the end of the year. Their defense was enigmatic given they have at least NINE draft picks in their starting eleven. Their offense could score with anyone, and almost did in the SECCG. Phew, thank God for tipped passes.
- Stanford – A very tough, physical football team I really enjoyed watching when I had the opportunity. David Shaw has done a remarkable job since taking over for Jim Harbaugh.
- Louisville – You saw the Sugar Bowl, right?
- Florida State – I really don’t know if Florida State deserves to be here. If they ever get coaching to match their top 5 talent they’ll easily be the cream of the ACC crop.
- Florida – Florida had one of the most impressive regular season resumes out there. But you saw the Sugar Bowl, right?
- Clemson – You won’t hear this spoken on this blog very often, but really a pretty good team. Boyd is definitely one of the top quarterbacks in the country when not playing South Carolina. And their skill talent is excellent. Still, probably would be the sixth, seventh best team in the SEC.
(Quick, everybody do a quick chant with me: SEC! SEC! SEC!)
- Kansas State – Remarkable what Bill Snyder has done with this program.
- LSU – Incredible talent. Massive brain farting by the head coach. No reason these guys shouldn’t finish top 5 every season. Instead they lose to an ACC team to close out the year.
- Boise State – Completely off my radar all year, but finished with a great record and an impressive bowl victory, albeit against a pretty terrible Washington team.
- Notre Dame – National Championship contender? Puh-leeze.
- Northwestern – Pat Fitzgerald is a great, great coach. Has made a perennial doormat into a consistent winner. Don’t know why his name doesn’t come up more often in coaching circles. Maybe because he’s a Northwestern alum.
- Oklahoma – Get sick of hearing about this team every year when they’re only slightly above average. Bitch-slapped by TAMU.
- Vanderbilt – Might deserve to be higher. Another amazing coaching job, but James Franklin has a lot of that Dabo rah-rah in him which can wear thin pretty easily. Then again, this is Vandy. He could probably wear floppy shoes and a big red nose on the sideline and they wouldn’t care as long as he’s winning.
- Utah State – Don’t know exactly why, but here they are.
- Texas – See Oklahoma, but with a bowl win.
- Michigan – Good team with a good coach. Michigan will be a Top 10 team again shortly.
- Oregon State – Meh.
- Nebraska – Taylor Martinez thinks they should be ranked higher.
- Cincinnati – Meh part II.
- UCLA – Surprisingly good job by Jim Mora. (Not Jr., he’s not a Jr., so stop calling him that.)
- Baylor – Phil Bennett doesn’t believe the SEC has ever seen an offense like this.*Not considered because I’m a football snob:
San Jose State