So I've drawn the long straw and will be casting BON's official ballot in this year's SBNation BlogPoll Top 25.
This could be dangerous.
My intended methodology and my preseason poll after the jump...
First things first: though I'm not one of those who argues that preseason ballots should be banned, I fully recognize the reality that, pretty much, nobody knows nothing at this point. So the ballot I've submitted is more or less a regurgitation of the AP Top 25, with a few minor bumps here or there. I consider this more or less a placeholder ballot to provide a point of reference when I start taking real life results into consideration next weekend. (That being said, there's no need for me right now to prove just how better and different I am by submitting a poll that much outside the mainstream, so I'm trying to be convention, for the first week at least.)
With that being said, for this week's poll, I don't want to hear anything about why so-and-so team was ranked ahead of such-and-such team. I don't care. It doesn't matter. And when teams start actually winning or losing, that'll show through, hopefully, in my future ballots.
What I do plan on having over the first few weeks of the season is wildly fluctuating polls from week to week as teams start winning and losing. Let's say, for example, that Mississippi State comes out and just absolutely destroys whoever they play in Week One. I think, if I do this the way I'm thinking I will, that I will probably overvalue that win than the typical voter does, who might go ahead and lock their #21 from the preseason into relative position to those teams ranked around them in the preseason despite the fact that those preseason ranking were completely arbitrary for the most part. So there's a very good chance that my ballots through early October will look a bit outside the mainstream until we have enough of a body of work for each team to analyze. And if that means that, using Mississippi State again as an example, I bump them to #7 or so after the first couple of weeks but drop them way down after they start losing in early October, it doesn't mean that my early ballots were "wrong." It instead means that I finally had a more complete body of work with which to properly assess them.
One thing I do not plan on doing is getting involved in the semantic differences between "resume ranking" and "power poll ranking". I plan on "ranking," period. And what I mean by that is that, now that I've entered my fifth decade on this planet, with much of that previous time spent in front of the television watching college football, I think I've developed a pretty good internal sense of how teams should be ranked based on an indefinable combination of perceived strength, games won and lost, strength of schedule, etc. So whatever the differences are between resume ranking and power poll ranking make little difference to me.
As the year goes on, I do hope to be transparent with whatever biases I might have. I know one I do have, from the debates from years past about what to do with Boise State, is having no hesitation about ranking what I believe to be a talented group of players highly despite the fact that they might play in a lesser conference and therefore have less of an opportunity to prove it week in and week out. (I suppose, now that I think of it, that this makes me more of a "power poll" voter than a "resume" voter, if I'm understanding the distinctions correctly.) I recognize that Auburn had a much more difficult path to an undefeated season last year than TCU, but I believe TCU had the superior team (reasonable minds can of course differ on this) and probably would have voted them #1 after the bowls last season.
(That being said, I really don't foresee this being nearly as contentious an issue this year as it has been the last couple of years, but only time and a few games will bear that out.)
One thing I do plan on doing the season is having a early Sunday thread called "Help Me Vote," intended to give feedback about games that you might have watched beyond a mere final score. Given that I plan on being at DKRTMS a few times this fall, it would be disingenuous for me to claim that I'll have good working knowledge about all the teams I'm ranking, and, at the end of the day, a final score might be all I have to go upon. I'd like that thread to provide an opportunity for people to point out things like a team's 10-point victory was so close only because its fouth-team defense allowed a few garbage-time touchdowns. Things like that which I might have otherwise easily missed and not taken into consideration.
Finally, a quick note about the home team: I don't imagine that my leaving Texas unranked to begin the season will prove to be too terribly controversial, but all I can say is that a team full of question marks and a completely revamped coaching staff coming off an uninspiring 5-7 season, but wearing jerseys which read "Houston" instead of "Texas," wouldn't even receive a single AP vote in the preseason ballot, let alone receive enough to lead the pack of "Others Receiving Votes." So I'll revisit Texas after the BYU game.
And here's my ballot: