Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Overrated. . .Overrated. . .Overrated. . .

Not just one of the better (if generic) cheers used in all of sports, Mike Elkon links to a pretty interesting "study" of teams versus their pre-season rankings.

I use study in quotes because while it's an interesting piece, as Mike notes polls do not take into account things like scheduling. And that is reflected in this just looking at pre-season versus final rankings. It also doesn't reflect luck (good or bad - hi Colorado!) causing a season to turn one way or the other.

Still, it's intesting to look at. I think Florida being at the bottom is a tad misleading - they're pretty consistently close to their preseason rankings, and I think if a good team plays in a tougher conference you might expect them to finish below a preseason ranking more often than not, particularly when that ranking is so often a top 10 or top 5 ranking (as Florida's so often was). Big differences are also interesting - particularly when they are in the red. What it all means can vary. Often there are funny things in preason rankings - like people ranking a team based on the assumption that something that hasn't happened will. Like a line of underclassmen with little experience pulling together and playing great. Or several previously injured players returning to old form.

So a big negative doesn't necessarily prove a team is overrated; it may just prove that the people picking the rankings were at best overly optimistic or unlucky and at worst stupid. And really, that's what might ultimately be reflected here - that preseason picks aren't always made logically, and that even when they are there is a guess component and nobody can see the future. Still, it's a fun chart to look at.

I am pretty sure it's fair to call Notre Dame the most overrated team in the country. It must have been nice -back before we had electricity, cars, and the ice age - when Notre Dame was head and shoulders above other schools in national coverage. They were probably on TV more often than everyone else (I could be wrong here), and this was a big deal back then. Now? Recruiting is different, with far fewer scholarships available and so much coverage existing for schools from mid level conferences. Boise State gets on TV a couple of times a year - prime time at that. 15 years ago, they'd have been dying to get TV coverage in a bowl game. Notre Dame gets slobbered on by the national media, but they aren't relevant they way they used to be. They have excellent pagentry and tradition, yes, but so do a number of schools. I'm guessing the nation was just under exposed to everyone else for far too long.

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