Monday, March 21, 2011

Another week, another snub by the national polls

E-mail Ricky Hazel

I've been at this college baseball gig for quite a number of years now, but there is one thing that has always escaped me. I just don't understand how the people who put out national polls come to the conclusions they reach.

I have voted on all kinds of polls in my career. I voted in the AP Football poll when I worked in the newspaper business, I have "helped" three different head coaches vote in the USA Today Coaches poll, heck I even had a Heisman Trophy vote one year.

But I just do not understand the college baseball polls.

I can look at teams results and see who is playing well and who is not. It is not all that hard. My feeling is that if you are playing well, you deserve to get votes. If you are not playing well, you don't deserve to get votes.

If you are Florida and you just swept a series at LSU, then you deserve to be ranked as the No. 1 team in the nation. That is a fairly unanimous pick.

Other teams that are fairly obvious to me are Vanderbilt, Virginia and Arizona State. Even Florida State, Oklahoma and LSU, who are all coming off tough weeks, are still deserving because their losses came to teams ranked ahead of them.

Where I lose it is after those first five or six teams.

Teams like TCU, Clemson, Cal State Fullerton, Stanford, Rice and Oregon continue to receive enough votes each week to maintain their spots in the polls even though they are regularly posting 2-2 records during each week. Heck, Stanford hasn't even played in two weeks, but at 6-5 they are still a nationally ranked team.

Those teams all opened the season ranked high and I think some of the polls keep them ranked just to save face. I am not saying these teams are bad, I am just saying they have not played well enough to continue hogging poll positions from other quality teams who have played well.

If you look at my vote this week in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Poll, I have 10 teams ranked who were not in last weeks poll. Of those 10 teams that I voted for, exactly one received enough votes to be ranked.

I even have to laugh at that one team because of their three losses this year, two came at Riddle-Pace Field to the Troy Trojans. Southern Miss is 15-3 on the year and deserves a national ranking, but they don't deserve a spot over Troy, who they lost to twice.

In my vote, I have Southern Miss ranked 17th, one spot behind Troy. I think this is fair.

I am also amazed by the coaches poll. Last week Troy had 15 poll points. This week the Trojans only got 11. The only Sun Belt coach who votes on the poll is South Alabama's Steve Kittrell and I can't see him dropping the Trojans after losing a series to Troy. So, who changed their vote, and better yet, why?

I guess the only way for Troy to get the attention of some of these pollsters is to go on a long winning streak. Wait, that happened back in 2006 when Troy won 14 in a row, but never got ranked. Maybe a 20-game win streak would be enough, who knows.

I know the joys of having home cooking every night are quickly coming to an end. After this weekend's series against UALR, the Trojans will play four straight on the road, first at Auburn and then at Arkansas State.

You hate to make the two or three games each year against the "big boys" in the state seem more important than any other games but, for the Trojans to get into the national conversation, those games are critical.

Playing well on television is also a big factor. Troy has two regionally televised games coming up in the next couple of weeks. First, the game at home against Auburn on April 5 will be televised on CSS with Joe Davis, the Montgomery Biscuits' radio voice, and former Atlanta Braves/Atlanta Falcons star Brian Jordan on color.

The Trojans will make their lone appearance on the Sun Belt Conference game of the week on Saturday April 9 against FIU. That game is being moved to a 7 p.m. start to accommodate TV. Like the Auburn game, the FIU tilt will be on CSS.

I'll be out of commission for the next couple of days. Having a little sinus surgery tomorrow morning. Hopefully everything will go well and I'll be able to breathe much better after the procedure. I'll be back at Riddle-Pace Field this weekend for the battle of the Trojans.

Here is how I voted in the NCBWA poll this week. You can click here to see how the poll turned out.

Rank Team Record
1 Florida 18-2
2 Vanderbilt 19-2
3 Virginia 19-2
4 Arizona State 15-4
5 Florida State 16-4
6 Oklahoma 17-5
7 LSU 16-4
8 South Carolina 14-4
9 Texas A&M 15-5
10 Texas 15-5
11 Arizona 15-5
12 Auburn 14-6
13 Fresno State 14-2
14 UC Irvine 14-2
15 Arkansas 15-4
16 Troy 16-4
17 Southern Mississippi 15-3
18 North Carolina 18-3
19 Rice 13-9
20 Georgia Tech 17-4
21 UCF 16-4
22 Georgia State 18-4
23 Tulane 16-4
24 Mississippi 15-6
25 TCU 12-7
26 College of Charleston 15-6
27 Stetson 16-4
28 East Carolina 16-4
29 New Mexico State 15-5
30 UNLV 17-6

1 comment:

  1. Ricky, this is a great article. Thanks for taking the time to sit down and hash this out. As a long time follower of college baseball (my parents are both Baylor alumni, so baseball was the only sport worth watching as a kid) I'm fascinated by all of the baseball polls. What are we up to, 4, 5, 6 polls now that "carry weight" in the national discussion? I think we ought to cut the fat by merging a couple of these and only using the voters who seem to be a little less out in left field, so to speak.

    I think your poll submission was very, very fair. But hey, no love for Texas State? New Mexico State hasn't won a game against a team with a current RPI of 148 or higher!

    Thanks again for a fantastic article.