On Polls and Picks
That's a scary Tiger... but #23?
A new outfit called "Sports Media Entertainment" has just released a preseason poll putting Princeton in the top 25 at #23. No other Ivies made the top 25, but Yale, Harvard and Cornell received votes.
I have no idea who voted in this poll, but it does yield some highly surprising results. I expect Princeton to be a good team this season, but I certainly don't expect the Tigers to repeat as Ivy champs. It's possible, but not probable. And while most everyone's preseason favorite Yale got some votes, the powerful Penn Quakers were left out.
Tough Nuts to Crack
Of course the Ivies are a tough conference to call, so it's wise not to poke fun of others predictions. I will say that this poll has me scratching my head a bit.
I intend to release my own extensive Ivy League Football predictions in late August, after training camps open and everyone gets a chance to check reliable roster data.
The fact is that I am pretty confident in my choices for the top two and bottom two spots in the league, but the middle four slots are driving me crazy. I'm basically trying to buy more time until some clarity hits me.
But I do have some general thoughts about the league overall:
1) This has become a defense-dominated league. Each of the eight teams has a strong argument when it claims to have a good defense. Brown has the weakest defense, but it has reason to believe it will be improved in 2007, and it wasn't terrible last year anyway.
2) The reason so many defenses are good is because the Ivies are exceedingly rich in linebackers these days. Most teams have more than one linebacker with a real shot at making all-Ivy.
3) On the other hand, the cupboards are looking bare for a lot of teams at the offensive skill positions. Only two running backs, Yale's Mike McLeod and Penn's Joe Sandberg, have exhibited consistent gamebreaking talent. None of the returning quarterbacks has thrown for more than 10 TD's in a season, and only one returning starter threw for more TD's than interceptions. Truly gamebreaking wide receivers are even harder to find, with only four or five really reliable weapons coming back league-wide this season.
4) None of the Ivy coaches is realistically on the hot seat this season, which means the kind of coaching pressure that I think helped Princeton improve in 2005 and 2006, and Yale last year will not be evident.
5) Because of the existing dearth of offensive skill players, there's an excellent chance many freshmen and other newcomers will break into the starting lineups this year and make an impact. That alone should make it a very exciting year for the Ivies.