ESPN Analyst Produces World Wide Leading Head Scratcher Ballot
By Tony Gerdeman
Did Ohio State's win over Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl impress you? Well, if you're ESPN football analyst Kirk Herbstreit, the Buckeyes' 31-26 win over the BCS's eighth-ranked team was anything BUT impressive. In fact, it appears that Ohio State's sixth BCS bowl win was instead a rather paltry and piddling affair, an overall assault on the football senses, really.
What do I mean?
Before the Sugar Bowl, Herbstreit voted the Buckeyes sixth on his AP ballot. After the Sugar Bowl victory, he voted Ohio State ninth on his AP ballot.
He dropped Ohio State as many spots as he did the Razorbacks. If this was a math test, I'd need to see Herbstreit's work on how he came up with his answers—and don't leave out the remainders.
That must have been some terrible win for the Buckeyes. They probably shouldn't even be showing their faces around campus. A win over the eighth-ranked team in the nation? The second-best team from the first-best conference? Unimpressive.
But you know what IS impressive? Oklahoma's 48-20 win over Connecticut! How impressive? Well, Herbstreit moved the Sooners to seventh on his ballot—up SEVEN spots—for beating the Huskies in the Fiesta Bowl.
He had UConn ranked 20th going into that Fiesta Bowl, but who knows, maybe RIGHT BEFORE the game he had an epiphany and decided that the Huskies were actually a top-ten team. That's about the only answer I can think of for moving the Sooners all the way up to seventh for beating an 8-4 UConn team, especially when you again consider he dropped Ohio State three spots for beating his own eighth-ranked Razorbacks.
Not to be forgotten, but Michigan beat Connecticut by 20 points to start the season. Is that really the type of opponent that merits a victor moving up seven spots? Of course it isn't. Don't look for any sense to be made in this ballot. It doesn't exist.
You want some further puzzlement? Wisconsin dropped three spots on his ballot for losing the Rose Bowl, so I guess a Sugar Bowl win ranks right up there with a Rose Bowl loss?
Last year Florida moved up a spot on his ballot with their win over Cincinnati in the Sugar Bowl. The year before Utah moved up two spots with its win over Alabama. The year before that, Georgia moved up two spots for their monumental Sugar Bowl win over Hawaii.
But this year, a Sugar Bowl win merits dropping three spots according to Kirk Herbstreit. Interesting, isn't it?
Maybe he just didn't feel comfortable dropping the Badgers below the Buckeyes considering Wisconsin beat Ohio State this year. I can almost understand this line of thinking—although once you lose a second game, that argument goes out the window.
Besides, that thinking can't possibly be in play considering that Arkansas beat LSU this year, and LSU bypassed the Razorbacks and moved up FIVE spots from ninth to fourth for their thrilling 41-24 Cotton Bowl win over his 13th-ranked Texas A&M Aggies.
If Herbstreit was intent on keeping head-to-head results as a large factor in his ballot, then he would have kept LSU from leapfrogging Arkansas, but he didn't.
If he was so impressed by LSU's win, why would he drop A&M eleven spots on his final ballot? Either LSU made a huge jump because of a huge win, or they made a jump for beating a team that he now feels is the 24th-best team in the nation.
Or maybe he was just looking for a reason to move another SEC team to the top of the charts?
As I said before, don't look for logic here—it won't be found.
Voters' ballots have as much to do with opinion as they do with logic—as they should, so this really is no surprise. The disconnect, however, comes when a voter's opinion isn't influenced at all by logic, which seems to be the case on this particular ballot.
ESPN bills itself as The Worldwide Leader in Sports, and thus The Worldwide Leader in College Football. Since Herbstreit is their top college football analyst, that makes him the Worldwide Leader in College Football Analysis.
I don't see that type of analysis when I look at his ballot.
Following Ohio State's win at Minnesota on October 30th, Herbstreit moved the Buckeyes from tenth to eighth on his ballot. Since then they've played four teams—all bowl teams—and won all four. Somehow, they are now ninth on his ballot.
Let's not pretend that those four teams—Penn State, Iowa, Michigan and Arkansas—don't carry some legitimate weight with them. Florida went from unranked to 22nd on Herbstreit's ballot for beating Penn State whom he didn't have ranked prior to the game. Mississippi State moved from 22nd to 16th for beating Michigan, who was also unranked just like the Nittany Lions were, by the way.
But Ohio State beats the eighth-ranked team in the nation and they drop three spots?
Maybe they should have beaten Penn State or Michigan instead.
Oh wait, they already did.