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.
— 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
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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.)