As a matter of complete disclosure, this ballot has technically not been cast yet. But that’s only because the folks at Harris Interactive won’t open the polls until after Wisconsin-Hawaii concludes in a few more hours.
But as a voter with a smidgen of influence in the national title picture —- 1/114 of 1/3, which comes out to 0.29 percent —- I think it’s important to have some method of fairly evaluating the teams in question.
Few people can watch every game of every title contender; I certainly couldn’t while I was busy watching Maryland lose to Duke and N.C. State.
Since my ballot has been all about results rather than style points or where a team started, the sensible thing to do was come up with a weighted metric to determine the significant final vote.
So here’s the system:
* The top 12 victories for each unbeaten plus Florida have been ranked in order.
* The best victories for each team are compared. Best of the best gets 72 points, second best is 60 points, then 48-36-24-12.
* On the second line, the scoring system is 66-55-44-33-22-11. This continues all the way down to the last line: 6-5-4-3-2-1.
* Obviously, not everyone played just 12 games. It’s unfair to give credit for that 13th game, but there is a minor bump for the 13-game teams to not have their worst game count against them.
* It’s a somewhat arbitrary penalty, but Florida will be docked 100 points for losing to Alabama. The Gators, though, should be evaluated in this group for the purposes of logically figuring out an appropriate ranking.
Is this perfect? No. But no method is perfect. There are two sets of rankings here —- the ordering of each team’s results, and the ordering of comparisons on each line. But while it’s not impartial, it is at the very least as dispassionate as possible.
In short, the questions are: Who did you beat, and where did you beat them. When you beat them and how badly you destroyed them are minimized in the equation.
||vs. Fla. (72)
||@Ore. St. (48)
||@OK St. (24)
||vs. VT (66)
||W. Va. (55)
||vs. Neb. (44)
||@Ole Miss (60)
||vs. Ga. (30)
||Texas Tech (40)
||vs. Okla. (45)
||@S. Carolina (24)
||Fla. St. (30)
||S. Carolina (30)
||@Utah St. (5)
||@Miss. St. (25)
||@La. Tech (4)
||@Miss. St. (18)
||Colo. St. (6)
||@Mia OH (2)
||New Mexico (4)
||N. Texas (4)
||Mia OH (5)
||SE Mo. (1)
||Chuck South (2)
||Texas St. (3)
And so that means the order of my final Harris Poll ballot is:
1. Alabama (462)
2. Cincinnati (320)
3. Texas (309)
4. Texas Christian (154)
5. Florida (150)
6. Boise State (143)
Alabama has the best wins on lines 1 through 10. Even if the SEC wasn’t great this year, it doesn’t matter. The Crimson Tide navigated a tougher schedule than the rest of the contenders.
Cincinnati held on to edge out Texas for the second spot. Neither team was dominant today, but it hardly mattered for these purposes.
The Bearcats had as many nonconference victories among their top seven wins (two) as Alabama, Florida and Texas combined for. The Oregon State and Fresno State victories helped a bunch. Texas’ nonconference of Central Florida, Wyoming, UL Monroe and UTEP really came back to hurt the Longhorns in this assessment.
As good as Texas Christian is, it’s difficult to evaluate the Horned Frogs as one of the top two teams in the country in large part because the teams they beat let them down (or got let down).
Clemson went 8-5. Brigham Young’s best victory (Oklahoma) turned out to be only a fraction of how good it seemed at the time. Utah was a hollow 9-3. Virginia was horrible.
And Boise State? It got more than 40 percent of its points in this exercise for its season-opening win against Oregon. There just isn’t enough to recommend the Broncos to vault even one-loss Florida, let alone the other unbeatens.
So there it is. One guy says Cincinnati belongs at No. 2. The bet here is a lot more folks say Texas. And that’s OK. At least with this ballot, there’s a detailed explanation why it is the way it is.
—- Patrick Stevens