Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Under the Hood | by Pat

Maybe it's been this way since the beginning of the season, but the AP Poll has gone totally transparent, with the ballots of all 65 voters available for public digestion.

While it's interesting to look at how the various voters slotted ND, keep in mind that the AP Poll doesn't figure into the BCS calculations anymore. That being said, it is interesting to see where ND, ranked #12 overall for the third consecutive week, ended up on the individual ballots.

As you can see from the chart, ND received 23 11th-place votes out of the 65 total AP voters. The next highest total was 12 10th-place votes, and then 11 12th-place votes, and then a smattering of votes as high as #9 and as low as #19. The results form a somewhat lopsided Gaussian distribution that really isn't all that unexpected this early in the season, especially for a team with as many question marks as ND.

It is interesting to see the effects of the outliers. The way the AP vote works is that a team gets 25 points for a first place vote, 24 for a second, and so on all the way down to one point for a 25. Notre Dame finished with 921 points, only 23 behind #11 Oregon. In this week's vote, Craig James of ABC slotted Notre Dame at #18 and Steve Phillips of WBIR-TV in Knoxville gave ND a #19. Had a few of those extreme votes been a little closer to the consensus, ND would have picked up an additional 17+ points; nearly enough to leapfrog Oregon for #11.

Anyway, the (admittedly minor) point of the example isn't to show that ND deserved the 11th spot over the Ducks, but to show that the difference between the teams in the poll is rather thin. If but a few of the voters harboring second thoughts about ND change their mind, ND should continue to move up in the polls.