Tuesday, July 17, 2007

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.


At Wed Jul 18, 12:47:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

These pre-season Ivy predictions are generally based upon last season's results. I would not expect Princeton to win the title next season. On talent alone they were a decent team which overachieved last season, and they will not be as good this year. In terms of pure talent, I thougth that Harvard actually had more weapons than anybody else last year, and I was stunned that they did not win the league. As for Penn and Yale, they will be decent teams, but my own view of Jack S and Bags' assistants is so tainted by last season that I can't be objective. In fact, an ideal result when both teams play is a 0 0 tie after three OTs. My dark horse is our own Columbia Lions. We are loaded with talent on the defensive side and can make up for and possibly upgrade a number of losses from graduation. But the hughe shock will be on the offensive side, where we will have a much stronger OL.

At Wed Jul 18, 12:54:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

I think those are all good points. While I see Yale as the strongest team, they still don't have a great QB or a passing game. If their defense falters in a big game or two, they could be in trouble.

Princeton benefitted greatly from now-graduated QB Jeff Terrell last year. He also got rid of the ball quickly, which took a lot of heat off the inexperienced Tiger offensive line. But I think Bill Foran is an ideally-suited QB for the Ivies today and he should have a very good year. His running, however, will put a strain on the Princeton offensive line in a way that they didn't see with Terrell. There could be some late-game collapses on offense.

The defense will be strong, but not as great against the pass.

The Tigers will be good, just not as good as last year.

At Wed Jul 18, 03:47:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is Foran the Purdue transfer?

At Wed Jul 18, 03:51:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

Yes, Foran was orginally at Purdue.

At Wed Jul 18, 05:41:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake, you have performed an extraordinary service. You have reawakened COLUMBIA NATION! What a reief to learn that there are other people out there like me who love Columbia athletics. My own varsity career ended on a low note in my sophomore year due to a nagging medical problem, but over the years I had thought that my love for Columbia sports, especially football and basketball, was a lonely pursuit. Now I have found that there are people out there who also care, thanks in no small part to you. Your blog is a magnificent contribution to those of us who care. Keep it up!

At Wed Jul 18, 09:01:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

Thanks so much for your comments and compliments! Now that we are bringing all the existing die-hards out of the woodwork, the real job of creating new fans begins. We are 59 days away from the season and I really hope we can all work to improve attendance at every home and road game. Everyone reading this should go online and buy tickets for the Fordham game right now so the team sees an hears a big Columbia contingent in the season opener. I'll have the links to the Fordham ticket site posted soon.

Of course, buying season tickets for all the Columbia home games is also something everyone should do right away. This is going to be a special season and no one should miss it.

At Wed Jul 18, 09:20:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

About the Fordham game: of all the away games we play I have always found Fordham to be the most inhospitable of all away venues. Parking is impossible; the shared stands are awful; and even the playing field is substandard. Yet we do need to call out the faithful. Any thoughts on whether the transportation issue has a better solution? Perhaps my disdain is a throw back to the late 60s, when our basketball team (Felsinger, Farber, Newmark) was greeted with Heil Hitlers from the enlightened Rose Hill student body.

At Wed Jul 18, 09:40:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

I believe Fordham has finally finished the construction of new parking facilities. The field is now field turf, so that problem is soleved too. I love the Rose Hill campus and encourage everyone to take a stroll along the pathways before the game.

Fan behavior at Fordham seems to have improved greatly too. I can't think of any bad incidents or even dirty looks from the 2003 and 2005 games.

My only complaint about Jack Coffey Field is the aluminum bleachers. They can be hard on your but after a while, so maybe you can buy one of those seat cushions.


Post a Comment

<< Home