Auburn Football 2011: Auburn Tigers Not Relevant in Preseason Polls Again

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Auburn Football 2011: Auburn Tigers Not Relevant in Preseason Polls Again
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

There is no target on the back of Auburn in 2011. For most teams that win a BCS Championship the target is squarely on their shoulders the next season. This is simply not the case for Auburn.

The “Rocket Science” that was used to make these preseason predictions in 2010 has relegated Auburn to the trash heap of history. It is true Auburn fans; the loss of two juniors to the NFL has crippled the team so badly that recovery could take decades.

Auburn will fall off the map and be irrelevant in the 2011 season. This must be true as so many  are predicting it. Time will tell if these pundits are correct this year. How did such pundits fare in 2010?

Following is a consensus combination of the major preseason polls. The Coaches, AP, Athion, Lindy’s, Phil Steele, TSN, Gameplan and SI polls were averaged to get these rankings. A very good article on listing all of these polls was done in 2010.

To see how accurate these pundits were a formula is necessary. This will be done in three columns. The first column will list the preseason consensus top 25. The second column will list each team’s final ranking if applicable. The third will list the difference between the preseason ranking and the actual final ranking. For teams that were not ranked a ranking of 26 will be used to give pollsters the benefit of the doubt. A "*" will indicate teams that did not appear in the initial or final rankings.

Preseason Ranking 2010

Final Ranking 2010

Difference

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Alabama (1)

16

15

Ohio State (2)

6

4

Boise State (3)

10

7

Florida (4)

*26

22

Texas  (5)

*26

21

TCU (6)

3

3

Nebraska (7)

18

11

Oklahoma (8)

7

1

Iowa (9)

*26

17

Virginia Tech (10)

13

3

Oregon (11)

2

9

Wisconsin (12)

5

7

Miami (13)

*26

13

North Carolina (14)

*26

12

Arkansas (15)

8

7

USC (16)

*26

10

Pittsburg (17)

*26

9

Penn State (18)

*26

8

LSU (19)

11

8

Georgia Tech (20)

*26

26

Florida State (21)

23

2

Georgia (22)

*26

26

Auburn (23)

1

22

West Virginia (24)

22

2

Oregon State (25)

*26

1

Stanford (* 26)

4

22

Michigan State (*26)

9

15

Missouri (*26)

12

14

Oklahoma State (*26)

14

12

Nevada (*26)

15

11

Texas A&M (*26)

17

9

Utah (*26)

19

7

South Carolina (*26)

20

6

Mississippi State (*26)

21

5

Hawaii (*26)

24

2

Central Florida (*26)

25

1

Average Score

 

10.28

 

These pundits missed 11 teams of the top 25 outright or 44 percent. This means they actually got 56 percent of the top 25 right in this initial poll for the 2010 season. It gets worse. They missed the ranking of those teams by an average of 10.28 slots or 41 percent.

They predicted six teams accurately (within five slots of their final ranking) in 2010. Five teams in the top 15 actually finished unranked. What is even more stunning is that these are actually the more historically accurate preseason polls.

To put this in better perspective; in this system the worst possible score that can be achieved is 13 with the best being zero. The 2010 preseason polls missed the worst possible score by only 21 percent. They did slightly better than a random picking of 25 teams out of the 120 available.

These results are not unusual, in a good year the polls will get 17 or 18 of the top 25 teams correct; in 2010 they got 14. When they do pick the teams correctly, they usually miss their final ranking by a significant margin.

Of the top 10 teams that ended 2010 unranked (Florida, Texas and Iowa), two have a very powerful and biased media machine to push them into regular over ranking in the preseason. Of the unranked teams that finished in the top 15 (Nevada, Oklahoma State, Missouri and Stanford), three reside in a conference and or state with team that is regularly overhyped in the preseason.

The truth is that most early preseason predictions are based on historic performance and media perception in most cases. It is a very rare case where any of these pundits know much about even one team during this time of the year, they almost never know much about 25.

To truly evaluate a team requires that an analyst have knowledge of what players will play where for that team in the coming season. This early in the year, no one knows the starters for most teams. Early evaluation must be done by depth at each position.

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