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Berry Tramel

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AP preseason poll: More meaningless than ever

by Berry Tramel Published: August 18, 2014
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OU cornerback Zack Sanchez returns an interception against Alabama in the Sooners' 45-31 Sugar Bowl victory in January, a verdict which has OU No. 4 in the preseason AP poll. (Photo by Sarah Phipps)
OU cornerback Zack Sanchez returns an interception against Alabama in the Sooners' 45-31 Sugar Bowl victory in January, a verdict which has OU No. 4 in the preseason AP poll. (Photo by Sarah Phipps)

The preseason AP poll was released Sunday, and what once was a major summer event now is reduced to yawns.

The AP poll lost its direct impact several years ago when The Associated Press asked the college football power brokers to discontinue use of the AP poll in the BCS process. Now the AP poll has lost its indirect impact now that the new College Football Playoff has warned its selection committee to be wary of any poll that uses a preseason rankings. Shun the very appearance of evil, if you will.

Committee members are instructed that if they ever bring up in discussion a poll that includes preseason rankings, basically referring to the AP and the coaches poll, they have to first make a verbal case why such data is relevant. Which means, it won’t be worth the trouble.

Of course, someone privately could still be impacted by the AP or coaches poll, but I don’t know why they would be. I’ve never seen evidence that the NCAA basketball committee ever gives the traditional polls any credence. The football committee will have plenty of other material from which to consider what four teams will fill out the bracket that leads to the national championship.

So the AP preseason poll falls into just-for-grins status. Which is fine. Because it is fun and interesting. And a much better poll, traditionally, than the coaches.

Here are a few thoughts about the AP poll:

* The AP poll includes as many former Big 12 schools as Big 12 schools. OU is ranked fourth, Baylor 10th and Kansas State 20th. Texas A&M is 21st, Nebraska 22nd and Missouri 24th.

That twist does not extend to the coaches poll, which was released in July. The coaches have OU third, Baylor 10th, Kansas State 21st and Texas 24th. In the coaches, Texas A&M is 20th and Nebraska 22nd.

* Only 30 percent of Big 12 teams are in the AP top 25. The SEC has 57.1 percent (eight of 14) of its teams in the AP top 25. The Pac-12 has 50 percent (six of 12). The Big Ten has 28.6 percent (four of 14) and the ACC has 21.4 percent (three of 14).

If you want to use those percentages as a way to rank the leagues, then it’s:

1. SEC

2. Pac-12

3. Big 12

4. Big Ten

5. ACC

That seems about right to me. You could always extend it and count how many teams received votes.

In that case, seven of the Big 12 teams received votes. Only West Virginia, Kansas and Iowa State did not.

Only three SEC teams did not receive at least one vote — Kentucky, Arkansas and Tennessee.

Six Big Ten teams did not receive votes — Purdue, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, Rutgers and Maryland.

Five Pac-12 teams did not receive votes — Arizona (why didn’t Arizona get a vote?), Utah, Colorado, California and Washington State.

Seven ACC teams did not get at least one vote — Wake Forest, North Carolina State, Virginia, Boston College, Georgia Tech, Pitt and Syracuse.

So those rankings are:

1. SEC 78.6 percent

2. Big 12 70.0 percent

3. Pac-12 58.3 percent

4. Big Ten 57.1 percent

5. ACC 50 percent

Those rankings are not all that relevant. One screwball voter can place Vanderbilt in his poll and skew the numbers.

* A fun thing to do annually is find the major differences in the AP and coaches poll. And it’s even more fun now that the coaches poll means squat.

And here’s what’s interesting. Not until you get to No. 24 is there more than one slot difference between the polls.

Oregon is third in the AP and OU is fourth; they are reversed in the coaches.

Ohio State is fifth in the AP and Auburn is sixth; they are reversed in the coaches.

Ole Miss is 18th in the AP and Arizona State is 19th; they are reversed in the coaches.

Kansas State is 20th in the AP and Texas A&M is 21st; they are reversed in the coaches.

And that’s the only differences until you get to No. 24, where the AP has Missouri and the coaches have Texas. Washington is 25th in both.

Texas is the major difference. The Longhorns are 28th in the AP.

 

 

 

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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