Polls, Rankings, Opinions and College

Written by: on Friday, September 26th, 2014. Follow KMac on Twitter.


Without the various high school football polls and weekly rankings from various sources we would have much less to talk about each season. Many posts on EasternPAfootball.com are in regard to someone’s thoughts on who has been “missed’ in the rankings; who does not deserve their position in the rankings; or “obvious” errors in placement due to strength of schedule versus team record. We hear a lot of good natured (I hope) banter on the subject.

My take on it is that it makes for a lot of fun and speculation all season, but there is only one poll that counts; the one after the championship games in mid-December. Here you usually see the state champions and runner-ups as one-two and three-four within the small school and big school rankings on this website; or on other web sites where each class is separate, state champs’ number one and runner-ups number two. This makes perfect sense, but there is still room for conjecture on the other placements in the top ten where of course, everybody did not play each other.

Anyone that follows the sport seriously can make a poll. Each has equal validity providing a personal bias for a certain team does not cloud the overall ranking. I see differences in polls for the Eastern side of the state among this site, the Philly.com site, and The Big Ticket on WFMZ in Allentown. Also PAfootballnews; and I realize that the basis for each of the rankings is a little different which accounts for variations. The Big Ticket includes some New Jersey teams across the Delaware River from the Lehigh Valley in their rankings. Dave Mika on here includes two groups – big school (classes AAAA and AAA), and small school (classes AA and A). Philly is called “Southeastern PA top 25” and nicely covers that area; the City, Bucks, Montgomery, Delaware, and Chester Counties. Of course, PAfootballnews covers the entire state in their four class-ranked polls, so you compare east-west in tandem.

Then we have the MaxPreps “Northeastern US top 25”; and “Xcellent 25” weekly for the entire country. The intent for reading these is to see how our Pennsylvania football rates among other teams in the Northeast, and in the country.

I cannot locate the post that one fan made that said that ranking teams throughout the country was something like “ludicrous”, “insane”, “impossible”; or something of that nature, and he may certainly be on point. It seems an impossible task to rank teams that never met, never will meet, and none of the common opponents of any one team ever played any other ranked teams. Of course, there are exceptions to this as we call “national schedules” for SOME teams. Still, as followers, we like to think that the poll sources do use history, tradition, records, and player college-placement; among other factors in their ranking procedures.

With that in mind, I found the recent rankings interesting; but by the time this is published they likely will have changed. Remember this is just a snapshot for the week that ends Thursday September 25th.

Dave put up the MaxPreps Northeast listing on the 24th. Pennsylvania is well represented on this tally with 13 of the 25 teams listed. New Jersey is second with 7 teams; albeit the Garden State has the top position and four of the top five positions.   New York has three teams and Connecticut and Massachusetts one each. Archbishop Wood holds spot number two, the best for PA, while interestingly St. Joseph’s Regional, NJ is number three – the next opponent of St. Joe’s Prep, who is number 7 on the list. The list is posted as I said for further study if needed.

Nationally, PA did not fare near as well as regionally. For the 9/22 MaxPreps Xcellent 25, only one team from PA, Archbishop Wood, cracked the list at 23rd. The top 22 positions were held variously by the following number of teams per state: Texas and California 4 each; Florida 3; New Jersey, Washington, and Georgia 2 each; and 1 each from Nevada, Ohio, Arizona, D.C., and Utah. Ohio gets the two after PA also for a total of 3 on the list. Of course, by next week; certainly by seasons’ end; it could be totally different.

But the national rankings do echo the dominant statistics for the states providing the bulk of the college bound players at present. The August 9, 2014 Fox College Football Blog “Outkick the Coverage” by Clay Travis cited that presently nearly 40% of FBS recruits come from just three states – Texas, Florida, and California. If Georgia and Ohio were tossed in, 52.4% of FBS recruits come from just five states. Check this with the list above and you see Texas, California, and Florida with the top number of teams in the National poll. This certainly seems to place the player-college-placement factor as one used by the pollsters.

We can get a further look at this factor by another article on “Where college football players call home” which just comes up under Mode blog for January 16, 2014. This breaks down the home location by county/state for 25,000 Division I college football players. Some examples: Los Angeles County, CA, 648 players; Harris County, Texas 498; contiguous Florida counties Palm Beach-Broward-Miami-Dade 948. The largest Pennsylvania county tally is Allegheny County at 209 players. For local interest the numbers are Philadelphia County 59; Bucks County 47; Montgomery County 61; Delaware County 38; and Chester County 59. Bergen County, New Jersey adds 116 players, and we know what schools live in that region of the country.

So, it appears that there is validity in the national rankings as much as possible, and this carries on to the various local rankings in a filter-down way. Let’s continue to debate the rankings in friendship and fan-ship, remembering that next week they may be somewhat different, and they are all leading to the final ranking in mid-December.

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