Keep in mind this data is based on PSB's own criteria, and collected from a list of 2005 AP voters. Here are his determinations on "where" the AP voters are, by region:
- National-4 voters
- Rocky Mountain-4
And by conference alignment:
- Big East-7
- Big Ten-12
- Big 12-10
- Pac 10-7
- Mountain West/WAC-6
I'll put the voters' names/locations in a word document soon and load it into the Files section here at CFR very soon. Data like that makes for great future reference.
Now, about the confessional.
Below are some excerpts:
If you're thinking it must be fun, you're wrong. It's serious business, requiring constant awareness, preparation and analysis. Every voter knows the nation is watching. Nobody wants to be embarrassed.
Also, nobody wants to get booted. Which has happened.
Judging by a former voter's admissions in my previous entry, not everyone trusted with the honor is "prepared".
One guy from Raleigh, N.C., already found himself on unofficial probation. He put Louisville as his No. 1 team. Not smart. Four went with Texas, but at least the Longhorns are No. 2. Tennessee figured to have some No. 1 votes from this part of the world, but no.
Back in New York, the AP folks look at those ballots as they are tabulated. If they see something that doesn't pass the smell test, they make phone calls. If a Florida voter had ranked Tennessee ahead of Southern Cal, that would've been OK. But if that voter were to put Florida or Florida State as No. 1, alarms would go off.
The weekly ritual continued beyond voting. As soon as the poll came out, I checked it closely. You have to be brave sometimes and stand up for your feelings, but normally you don't want to be more than three to five spots off for any team, even in the gray area toward the bottom. Also, you don't want to see your teams wasted among "others receiving votes."
I'm a big proponent of college football polls, but here is where I have trouble with them. The greatest tool any voter has is an independent mind. He or she should be free to take in the entire week of outcomes, draw his own conclusions and rank teams accordingly. Unless there was some kind of funny business we're not aware of, this "unofficial probation" placed on the Raleigh voter is frivolous. Basically it's sending the message that poll members may not vote their conscience, but instead select within the narrow framework of the assumed conventional view of things. In other words, I'm advocating that the folks "back in NY" ought to maintain oversight but also ease up on the reins and let their voters do what they've asked them to do.
If anything, voters should be given tremendous freedom early on in the process so that they don't close ranks late in the game when outsider teams come charging in strong. Imagine if Louisville had finished undefeated this year, would voters have an open mind about them or would they consciously and unconsciously see voting for them as something akin to touching a hot stove?
Poll voters should be open to heavy and constant public and private criticism, but their organization should not interfere with their final voting decisions.
This was the problem I had with the well intentioned but ultimately flawed BlogPoll. It had the potential to deliver weekly outcomes that differed from the highly predictable AP poll. Instead, within a few weeks it was lock-step with the AP poll, offering little deviation. They were soon thinking like and using the same logic of AP voters, mostly slotting teams by record and perceived conference and schedule worth.
Of course, many of these determinations were based on the same dusty received wisdom helplessly followed by AP voters. If two sets of poll voters have different pollsters but follow the same set of values and rules, desn't it follow that their results are predictably going to be very similar? The only way to get different results is to change the rules and assumptions at work, liberating voters to follow the dictates of their football educations and internal, personal guidelines.
Please remember that I am a fan of the AP and other college football polls. But something's wrong when the weekly outcomes become formulaic and a well-intentioned group of dissident outsiders can end up with nearly the same rankings as the much-criticized AP poll.
Finally, I can't help but feel that poll voting is an education unto itself. How badly do the preseason voters who had Tennessee so high feel? The confession writer, speaking on the date of the release of the 2005 Preseason AP poll said the following:
Given the chance now, what would my vote be today? Something tells me USC will slip this year, and Texas definitely will. My No. 1 would have gone to Tennessee, followed by USC, Michigan, Miami and Texas.
Oops. But lesson learned, if he's a rational kinda guy. Many of my bold predictions went wrong before this season, so please understand I'm not trying to be sanctimonious here. There's an education in the journey, but only if the voters are given freedom to make necessary mistakes.