I normally don’t write an explainer of my weekly Associated Press ballot if South Carolina does not figure into the rankings, but I’ve had some calls to justify this week’s selections. I’ve also had some calls to take a breathalyzer test and resign my ballot and do other things that I fear would cause me bodily harm. Those suggestions I’ll skip, but I will explain my ballot.
(Of the dozens of angry Twitter comments I got, this was my favorite: “Your picks are bad and you should feel bad.” There’s a biting subtlety there that I think is well done.)
Anyway, on to my explainer. I ranked Clemson No. 10 because I have three concerns about the Tigers – their inability to run the ball effectively thereby putting a ton of pressure on Deshaun Watson, a defense that was at one time fearsome but looked vulnerable Saturday and a propensity to play with fire too often. Those are the only reasons I voted the Tigers No. 10. I can assure you, although many of you won’t believe me, that I have no ill will toward Clemson and not a bit of bias in my bones in regard to the Gamecocks-Tigers rivalry. I’m a big fan of Watson and of Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney. I do after all have the Tigers ranked No. 10 in the country. It’s not like I called them an SEC East team or anything.
Yes, I know Clemson beat Florida State and Louisville, two teams I currently have ranked ahead of them, but at this point in the season head-to-head matchups become only one factor in my decisions. It’s impossible to use only head-to-head because lots of people have beaten lots of people at this point, and you’d be chasing your tail endlessly if that was your only criteria.
I rank teams based on where I believe they belong that day and that week, and I change my ballot a lot from week to week. I am not disturbed that my ballot looks much different from everybody else’s ballot. In fact, I’m proud of that fact. I will continue to pound on the table against the notion that we should all vote alike. It’s the worst of group think. The whole idea of this thing is we all have different opinions and the average of those opinions should lead to an accurate poll, but we all have to have different opinions for these rankings to work properly.
To my fans in Michigan, who seem willing to pick up whatever torches and pitchforks the Clemson people haven’t grabbed at this point to march against me, the head-to-head argument that I raised regarding my Tigers vote works the same on the Wolverines. In addition, Michigan is now getting to the meat of its schedule and must prove it can handle that grind.
As for Western Michigan, I just owe you guys an apology. I goofed. I had Western Michigan ranked No. 16 last week and inadvertently dropped them out this week. At one point while sorting out my ballot on Sunday, I had the Broncos in and then I went to move them up the ballot and ended up not adding them back in. My fault and I’ll correct it next week.
I sincerely hope this helps gives some insight into my thinking. I appreciate everybody’s passion about college football and you taking the time to look at my ballot and this explainer. Have a great day. We’ll chat again next Sunday I’m sure.