The Mumme Poll: A Democratic Approach To Complaining About College Football


Complaining about the BCS is one of those go-to topics that makes college football blogging (and really, all college football coverage) tick. The annual calls for change are usually that the computers are too objective (seeing only the stats and scores, not the way teams looked on the field), and the human polls aren’t objective enough (regularly prone to bias, apathy and misinformation). 

The USA Today Coaches’ Poll in particular is a lightning rod for controversy. Opponents say that the coaches who vote in the poll don’t have time to watch every team in the country (or even the Top 25) play, and thus aren’t entirely informed. Further, even those that do make an effort would be naturally inclined to overestimate teams in their own conference; after all, these are the guys they’re watching on tape each week. 

A great example of Coaches Poll controversy came in 2007, when 11-2 LSU leapt from #7 in the BCS standings to #2 in the final week.  Some timely upsets aided the Tigers, but they also jumped over Virginia Tech (11-2), Georgia (10-2) and Kansas (11-1) in the process.  LSU went on to win the National Championship and prove themselves as deserving of the spot; however, at the time, the final ballots were scrutinized by many, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Tony Barnhart

That article (and the revelation that then-New Mexico State coach Hal Mumme chose Hawaii #1 on his final ballot) led two regular college football blogs, Get The Picture and 3rd Saturday in Blogtober, to “do something about it.”  Inspired by the godfather of the Air Raid offense, they are attempting to transcend the standard blogosphere criticism and make something truly constructive.  I’ll let them explain it:

The Mumme Poll is an ongoing attempt … to construct a viable method to rank Division 1 college football teams without the bias and potential conflicts of interest that affect other polls, particularly the USA Today Coaches Poll.

How do you eliminate bias in polling for a sport that brings out such passion in everyone involved?  Well, simple, they say: you let everyone vote.

Registration to vote in the Mumme Poll is open to anyone and everyone, provided that you keep it up and don’t try any shenanigans (see further rules on their site).  All voters choose their top 12 teams in no particular order, splitting into two groups – the top five and the next seven.  All ballots are compiled and the final poll ranks teams according to how many votes they receive overall, with “top five” votes used to break ties.  As of last week, Alabama (#3 in both human polls) was leading the Mumme Poll by a slim margin.

It may be sports-related, but The Mumme Poll is definitely an exercise for geeks.  I’m already signed up.

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