Last week a Beacon colleague of mine and former Sports Editor, Jim

Masilak, wrote a commentary concerning the inequity of the preseason

polls.

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

experimentation.

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

Lions.

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

victory.

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

flinch.

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

seriously.

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.