Pre-Season Poll Ranks Nits #6
Pre-season polls are generally not worth the paper they’re written on. (Or the electrons, or magnetized particles, or whatever the hell…). The AP Poll, conducted among sportswriters, is no exception. However, in Penn State’s case, although they’re typically wrong, being ranked highly in the pre-season tends to portend a disappointing season.
JUST IN: @PennStateFball ranked No. 6 in the first @AP_Top25 poll of the season pic.twitter.com/lgjvuw8VaD
— The Daily Collegian (@DailyCollegian) August 21, 2017
Nobody, including this turkey, wants to be let down by their favorite vicarious heroes. Neither do I want to set my sights low so I won’t be disappointed in their performance. And as I expressed in my previous article, I have reasonably lofty expectations for the Nittany Lions in 2017. However, I have noticed that these pre-season polls tend to do some serious overshooting in the wake of the euphoric aura of overachieving years.
Well, I will call this the Turkian Pre-Season Poll Conundrum, about which I’ll posit a few potential ‘splanations here. In other words, I’ve got some more bullshit for you.
Let’s take 1995, for example. Penn State had finished with a #2 ranking the previous year (in all but the NY Times poll among the then majors). So, naturally, the pre-season polls had them up in the stratosphere, specifically a consensus #3 ranking. They finished #13. Then, in 1997, Penn State was ranked #3 in the consensus of pre-season polls, but finished the season with a disappointing #16 AP ranking. In 1999, St. Joe’s boys were ranked #3 again, and wound up #11.
For those of you who forgot all the Latin you learned in Catholic school or wherever you learned Latin, we now enter THE DARK YEARS (cue cello). (Those of you who interpreted the phrase as “obscure anus” get three raps on the knuckles from Sister Sledge). Fans were humming funeral dirges for Penn State football and calling for the execution of its leader, St. Joe. The only year during that period where Penn State even had a chance of being ranked was 2002, when Larry Johnson, Jr. did his magical thang at running back. That year, St. Joe’s boys were ranked 25th in the pre-season consensus, but they delighted us to a #16 finish. Then, in 2005, the putative terminus of Annis Obscurus, the Lions surprised everybody by vaulting to #3 from a universal non-ranking in the pre-season. So, it works the other way, too.
The 2005 season was a miracle year in which everything came together for Penn State, and the following year, the polls reflected that by dropping the Lions to #18. That was still too high. They finished #24. The pre-season polls were once again generous in 2007, in which PSU was ranked about #16 at the start, but wound up finishing out of the money.
Back to Business
The pre-season poll finally got it right in 2009, when PSU was picked to finish #8 and wound up #9. Early season euphoria the following year placed them at #17 at the outset, and once again out of the money at season’s end.
The Sanction Years
(This space intentionally left blank.)
And Here We Are
Last year, Penn State was unranked in the pre-season polls, but wound up #7 in the final AP poll. Here we go again! The springboard effect in doing its thing. Simple-minded sports writers seem to want to dwell on last year’s results more than this year’s realities. So, here you’ve got the post-2016 euphoria acting like a dose of Ecstasy on these sports hacks. They’ve ranked Franklin’s boys #6 in the pre-season poll. Huzzah! Huzzah! Feel the love! Rodney Dangerfield has left the Lasch Building.
I don’t think they’ll wind up that high. Your mileage may vary, whatever the hell that dumbass phrase means in this context. In other words, we’ll agree to disagree, maybe, perhaps — yet another trite phrase that means nothing. Or how about, we’re likely to find some common ground somewhere. I grew up mostly in Pennsylvania. But I digress.
The top five are the usual suspects, which fortunately, prevented PSU from being ranked even higher:
- Ohio State
- Florida State
Rounding out the Top Ten are PSU, Oklahoma, Washington, Wisconsin, and OK State.
So, fearless readers, what be your prediction for the PSU finish this year? (I know, I know — those of us with brains don’t pull numbers out of our asses until the nascent season shows us a direction, so I ain’t expecting much more than waffling and dartboard avoidance.)
Well I guess with the talent they have returning, last season’s results and the fact that CJF is one of the highest paid coaches in the NCAA, (indicating he knows what he’s doing of course), 6th sounds about right. I guess if I peer over the rim and see what’s in the bowl based on my previous right out of my ass predictions, I see a big number 4, since I think they’ll be one of the playoff teams.
I’m not a big fan of polls until at least the first or second week in October because the opening rankings are nothing but a glorified popularity contest and too much crazy shit can happen between now and then. It also creates all that early season network hype when the can push “No 1 Alabama vs. No 3 Florida State” or ” Watch No 2 vs No 7-THE osu faces Oklahoma in an inter-sectional battle of college football powers” (which might be interesting without “Big Game Stoops” not walking the sidelines)
I don’t feel too bad based on this from Lions247:
“Most voters, according to CollegePollTracker.com, had the Nittany Lions in the 5-8 range. Fifteen voters had Penn State right at No. 6, while 13 more had the team at No. 5. Four pollsters have the Nittany Lions at their high-water mark, No. 3, and three more have them in playoff position at No. 4. That group includes Jerry DiPaola of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Matt Brown of Sports on Earth, who is based out of State College, had the Nittany Lions at No. 6.
Then there’s Mitch Vingle of The Charleston Gazette in West Virginia, who was by far the outlier when it came to ranking Penn State. He is the only voter to put the Nittany Lions outside the top ten, slotting them 14th.
The kicker? Vingle has Notre Dame – coming off of a 4-8 season – at No. 3 in his poll behind Alabama and Ohio State. Vingle made 13 picks College Poll Tracker deems “extreme”, a selection at least five spots higher or lower than a team’s actual ranking.”
I was just glad they weren’t ranked for once in the official poll, because they suck and Kelly is a lousy coach!
I do agree with you, I would prefer that they were not ranked so high based on the historical results you noted, but in today’s world, you really can’t make any traction if you start out down in the rankings and everyone above you holds serve, plus that early season loss is recoverable if you start in the upper echelon rather than in the ash pit.
The Nittany Turkey says
As long as the TV revenue can be enhanced by some overinflated ranking, all’s well in the big money world of bit college “student” athletics. Now, if they use some of that TV revenue to terminate the hypocrisy and pay the athletes, we could close the circle. It will be unhypocritically all about TV revenue and paid athletes, just like WWE!
In the meanwhile, we can all gloat about #6 — for a while. If the season goes as I think, the ranking might creep up a bit before taking a nosedive in Evanston. Or not. Who knows? You said it — it is much too early for polls at this juncture.
I just returned from an hour meeting with a lawyer, so I’m more full of shit than usual. It’s guilt by association.
Big Al says
#6 seems about right based on what we know right now. But Barkley, McSorley, and Gesicki will have to stay healthy all year and the offensive line will have to play better than they did last year. If they can improve to a top 25 OL, Penn State will be very hard to defend.
However, I still believe Karma is going to screw us over for last year’s magical run. I’ve been mulling over the way(s) she could do that and have settled on the following scenario. Penn State loses to Ohio State but wins all the other games. Ohio State loses to Oklahoma and Michigan but goes to the B1G championship game because they have the tiebreaker. They then stomp Wisconsin and get a berth in the playoffs. Penn State is selected to play the Group of 5 winner in the Cotton Bowl after being passed over for an Orange Bowl berth by Michigan. (The Rose Bowl is a playoff semifinal this year, so no B1G team will get a berth in it unless it is selected for the playoffs).
The Nittany Turkey says
I’m kind of wondering if and when K. John will chime in with his thoughts on the season before us. He seems to have lost some interest now that Hack is floundering around with the Jets.
We’re all hoping that the Limegrover OL is a winner and that it stays healthy. I predicated my 10-2 prediction on that being the case.
However, I still have enough unanswered questions about the defensive front seven that I still see the potential for another loss in there.
I thought PSU already had the karma experience last year by winning the conference but being passed over for tOSU in the playoffs. (Then, of course, karma struck the Bucks when they got blown out 31-zip.) Maybe this year PSU will get into the playoffs and karma will screw tOSU again. They’re so screwable.
Then, there’s the jinxing effect of being placed so high at the outset. You can bet that Pitt will be gunning to knock us off and gain instant cred on September 9.