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The Game is Afoot... Interesting Already!

A while back, I offered a"beer bet" on pre-season Top 25 College Football picks, following up on a post by Dave Berri. Six took me up on the bet, well within my beer budget at the next WEAI meetings in Seattle. My thanks to Dennis Coates, Steve Winkler, Nicholas Evans, Jason Winfree, Jon Russell, and Burt Monroe. You can get the affiliations of the participants and their rankings here (MS Excel).

Just a couple of highlights. Ohio State is first in two rankings, joined by Texas, Oklahoma, USC, Miami, and Notre Dame. Fourteen teams are common to all rankings-- Auburn, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisville, LSU, Miami, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, USC, Virginia Tech, and West Virginia. Tulsa, UCLA, Utah, and Washington State appear only once and on different lists.

In his "Wise Crowds" post below, Brian Goff cites one of his papers where he shows another reason to be interested in pre-season polls. Apparently, where a team started in the pre-season polls influenced where it ended up even after taking into account winning percentage and schedule strength. This is echoed by Russell Adams in the Wall Street Journal today, where he assesses those making pre-season picks (I gleaned this from my subscription to Sportsbusinessnews.com):

"A team ranked sixth, for example, is already closer to getting to play in an elite postseason bowl game than a team ranked 10th. Those rankings are partly determined by polling coaches, who base their decisions primarily on early hype, especially preseason predictions. In that way, perception can easily become reality -- particularly when three or more teams finish the season undefeated but only two can go on to the championship game. ...A team's preseason ranking can also have ramifications for future seasons, because, schools say, a higher ranking can boost everything from alumni donations to ticket sales -- while a lower position could do just the opposite."

I'll confer with the players on the final scoring system and we'll see who's buying when the end of the season poll results are in!