Last week a Beacon colleague of mine and former Sports Editor, Jim
Masilak, wrote a commentary concerning the inequity of the preseason
Being a product of a liberal education, I have decided to apply the
scientific method I learned in my natural sciences classes to this theory
and see if I could duplicate his findings.
Before I begin, allow me to thank the faculty of the geology department who
had the vision and determination to make the scientific method a real part
of my life. Luckily, for my experimentation I will not employ a mineral kit
or topographical maps, but my couch, television and remote control.
Last week, Jim dissected the travesty that was Texas' preseason ranking of
No. 16. After their disastrous defeat at the hands of NC State in Austin,
it became obvious that they were not a top-25 team and that the pollsters
had failed again. Keep this example in mind as I move forward in my
Jim also examined the Arizona Wildcats' preseason No. 3 ranking. The
Wildcats traveled to Penn State to battle the No. 4 Nittany Lions. Football
logic dictated that this would be a close game, but once again the polls
were tragically wrong as Arizona learned at the hands of the Nittany
Arizona dropped to No. 15 and became the focus of my study this weekend. As
any good scientist will attest, only by using the same set of data can my
testing of Jim's hypothesis hope to be valid.
This week, the Wildcats traveled to Fort Worth, Texas to play the TCU
Horned Frogs. Two years ago, TCU went 1-10, but are now in the midst of
rebuilding. They proved to the Wildcats that the construction is moving
along ahead of schedule.
The Horned Frogs came out hot and took a 23-7 lead into halftime. The
Wildcats did explode for 21 points in the third, but once again fell behind
after TCU hit two field goals. In the end, Arizona had to score a touchdown
with less than three minutes remaining in the game to edge out the slim
Despite the win, it appeared to me that Jim's theory was correct and that
the preseason polls have about as much right being published as Kevin
O'Neill's Tennessee memoirs.
I was happy with my finding, but just like my mineral identification quiz,
I sought perfection and carried on with the exhausting work.
My next example came in the Colorado State/Colorado matchup. The CU
Buffaloes entered the game ranked No. 14, but were massacred by the CSU
Rams 41-14. The game was never even close, since the Buffaloes scored all
their points in the fourth quarter.
Once again, the inequity stared me right in the face and dared me to
Despite all this evidence, the worst anecdote came in the form of the new
ESPN/USA Today rankings. After Texas beat a weak Stanford 69-17 and
NC State shut out South Carolina 10-0, the Longhorns are actually ranked
ahead of the Wolfpack. And people in Tennessee complain about respect.
To me, this is a total lack of elementary school logic by the pollsters and
the worst example yet of inequity.
But what does all this experimentation and analysis mean to you, the
Tennessee football fan? Don't worry about what the polls say now! As I have
proven, and Jim before me, the polls are about as accurate as Dan
Dierdorf's commentary and, just like Dierdorf, should not be taken
As the Vols proved last season, the team that goes undefeated will be
crowned the national champs. There is only one poll that really matters and
it doesn't come out until January.
Pollsters prove drastically wrong in ranking teams
Published: Tue Sep 07, 1999 | Modified: Sat Aug 06, 2005 01:55 p.m.