Sunday, October 07, 2007

Narrative Interrupted

What will the national sports media do, now that their carefully pre-scripted narrative has come crashing down at the Los Angeles Coliseum?

For one, they are going to do a lot of Trojan ass covering. We are going to hear all week long in both the print/internet media and on TV how the USC loss “didn’t knock the Trojans from the National Championship race” and how it really wasn’t as bad as it looked. Letting go of cherished preconceptions is hard, and in a sport where opinion decides championships, it’s simply too tempting spin and obfuscate.

Nevermind that the Trojan’s lofty rankings this year have been a farce of the first order. I have little difficulty with their preseason rankings, as all preseason polls are little more than speculative fluff. What I have a problem with is USC’s continued top ranking in the face of all evidence to the contrary. Let’s look at the Trojan’s resume prior to the debacle last night –

38-10 over Idaho. Idaho is currently 1-5, with Washington State, Northern Illinois, and Hawaii all scoring 40 plus points on them.

49-31 over Nebraska. Said to be the Trojan’s marquee win, Nebraska admittedly wasn’t totally unmasked as a fraud until last night, when they lost to Missouri 41-6. The Huskers almost lost to Ball State, a game in which they gave up 610 yards and 40 points. The 31 points they scored against USC were explained away as “late game points”.

47-14 over Washington Stat. Washington State is 2-4.

27-24 over Washington. Against the punchless Huskies, now 2-3, the game came down to an onside kick.

How does that resume get you a number 2 (or, in some cases number 1) ranking?

We received some critism for ranking USC number 7 in our BlogPoll vote. Said Brian at MGoBlog (the honorable BlogPoll proprietor) – “Saurian Sagacity dropped USC to #7 after that tight-ish (but not that tight) win against Washington; how is that justifiable when Wisconsin slides up ten for a win over what's probably a mediocre Michigan State team and Boston College, who struggled against I-AA UMass?”

Well, we believe it justifiable for the reasons given above. USC simply had not shown us anything, and listening to the hype of the sports media about all thing Pete Carroll doesn’t qualify. Now, we can debate whether Wisconsin was justified at 4th, but I will tell you this – even with their loss to Illinois, they will be (and should be) far ahead of USC in our vote this week.

Moreover, we have said repeatedly – which we reiterate here – we are not trying to be predictive in our BlogPoll voting. We are trying to merely grade what has happened. But in doing so, perhaps we were unintentionally predictive, and likely with more accuracy than the other voters. Did anyone else have USC as low at 7th?

Now with the loss to Stanford, the collective record of USC opponents is 11-18. USC just lost, at home, to a team that has won 3 games in 2 years. Yet, the national poll voters will probably have them in the top 10, when I can see at least 20 teams deserving of being ranked ahead of USC (and Florida is not one of those).

Look for the sport media to deal with their interrupted narrative they way they always have – ignore what they don’t like, and justify the unjustifiable.

1 comment:

Henry Gomez said...

Moreover, we have said repeatedly – which we reiterate here – we are not trying to be predictive in our BlogPoll voting. We are trying to merely grade what has happened. But in doing so, perhaps we were unintentionally predictive, and likely with more accuracy than the other voters. Did anyone else have USC as low at 7th?

There is a paradox here. And that's that by not being predicitive but merely trying to look objectively at what has happened, as the season wears on you blog poll vote will become more predictive. That's because there is more information. More of a resume of past performance from which to predict future performance.