Jimmy and I meant to do some more posting earlier in the week. Unfortunately, events conspired against us, but I thought it was important to put up this entry today — even if I am writing it a couple of hours before Miami and Virginia Tech kick off.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Doug Lesmerises has been drawing a lot of attention this week for the unique methodology he uses to fill out his AP ballot. Essentially, Lesmerises throws out any preconceived notions about how good a team should be and focuses on results.
Some, me included, would argue that Lesmerises is simply doing what an AP voter is supposed to do. However, many people are critical of the approach because he takes a lot of extreme positions. For example, his most recent ballot had Florida at No. 5 (the lowest ranking for the defending national champion), Houston at No. 3 (the Cougars were left off seven ballots this week) and Miami at No. 2.
That last one got me thinking about where the Hurricanes stand in the national rankings. Miami ended up ninth in this week’s AP poll, but there’s nothing close to a consensus among voters about just how good they are.
As you can see here, Miami showed up on ballots anywhere from No. 2 (by Lesmerises and Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News) to No. 20 (by Ryan Finley of the Arizona Daily Star) and just about everywhere in between. To gauge how widespread opinions about the ‘Canes are, I took a look at the statistical variance in voters’ rankings for the 13 teams that appeared on all 60 AP ballots this week:
Florida, Texas and Alabama each has a low variance because most voters agreed they should be ranked first, second and third, respectively. In general, a high variance means there’s a lot of disagreement about where a team should be ranked, although a major outlier can skew the number higher, such as for Ole Miss.
Outliers have nothing to do with the major difference of opinion on Miami. The most votes the ‘Canes received for any one spot was 10 for No. 9. Only 25 other voters put them within three spots of that position one way or another (between No. 6 and No. 13).
The only team with a higher variance than Miami is Oklahoma, which is somewhat understandable for the Sooners given their season-opening loss to BYU and the absence of Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford in two blowout wins. It doesn’t make as much sense for the ‘Canes since they’ve won their first two games against ranked opponents. The only logical explanation for all that variation must be that voters, as a group, are still confused about what to do with Miami after leaving them out of the Top 25 in the preseason.
Of course, none of this may matter in a few hours. If the ‘Canes beats Virginia Tech in Blacksburg today, expect opinions about where to rank them to crystallize in a hurry.