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Hey Wolverines, Why So Blue?

By Scott Hurrey | September 5th, 2007

With the start of the 2007 NFL season looming, it takes a lot to change the water cooler conversation away from the latest power rankings or who will be the biggest surprise team in the playoffs this year. Appalachian State did just that.

If you have been living in a cave for the past week, perhaps you won’t know what I’m talking about, so let me fill you in. A division AA school spent Saturday in Ann Arbor destroying the hopes and dreams of Wolverine fans around the globe. A warm-up game in early September turned out to be a burn that will be felt until next season.

The first signs of that burn can be seen in the latest polls. Last week, Michigan was sitting pretty at number 5. This week, they are unranked, marking the biggest fall in ranking since the expansion to 25 teams in 1989.

So now, as a spectator, I have to wonder what a fall like that and loss by a top-5 division I-A school to a division I-AA school means for the ranking system itself. Were the pre-season rankings that far off to begin with, or is the importance of this game to the team’s ranking disproportionate?

The answer is probably both.

Losing one game basically halted Big Blue’s championship aspirations in it’s tracks, and I suppose being the first ranked Bowl Subdivision team to ever lose to a Championship Subdivision team will do that to you, but the real debacle here, is the pre-season poll itself. The very idea of having a pre-season ranking is ludicrous in this humble reporter’s opinion. How can you set a ranking that so severely affects the National Championship hunt before a single game is played?

Sure, USC is good every year. That won’t change if you make them wait a month to put it in writing. And doing so would mean the less-hyped teams would have more of an opportunity to move up the rankings. If you are projected to be bad and turn out to be good, you are automatically penalized for not being highly touted in August. The likelihood of being bumped ahead of someone ranked ahead of you with the same record is slim, even if you field a better squad.

I know the BCS system was introduced to try and correct these problems, but the problem is that a computer algorithm is dependant upon data, and two-thirds of the data used are the same subjective polls that caused the problem in the first place. I don’t know what the real answer is, and maybe the BCS is a step in the right direction, but none of these options allow the players to decide on the field.

Perhaps a four-team playoff with each of the BCS winners would make things a little clearer at the end of the season; at least is would give fans three more games and the NCAA three more games worth of revenue. But that’s a story for a different edition of the Cheap Seats.

Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Scott Hurrey

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