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A Rebuttal to Garry Smits' Rankings

AP pollster Garry Smits voted undefeated Mississippi State #6 in the nation, the lowest of any ballot-holder. An interview with the Commercial Dispatch shows that he used incredibly inconsistent criteria and double-standards to purposefully keep us low.

Yesterday, the Commercial Dispatch released an interview with Garry Smits, the AP pollster who voted Mississippi State #6.  Please allow me to rebut.

But first, read the article, some of which I've quoted below:

And let me be clear - I'm not debating strengths of schedule or performances of Mississippi State or other teams, but rather his rationale for putting us 6th.

"Because I think Nos. 1-5 are better teams," Smits said. "Not much more to it than that. The AP poll is opinion, opinion formed by observation, research and calculation."

No complaints here.  If your opinion is that there are 5 better teams than us, then you have to put us #6.  That's your opinion.  I disagree with it, but that's fine.

It's the next series of quotes I have an issue with:

"Of the five teams I have ahead of MSU, FSU was first on my preseason ballot, Baylor eighth, Ole Miss 17th, Notre Dame 14th and Michigan State ninth. MSU was unranked in the preseason, as they were on almost every other ballot. FSU, Baylor, Ole Miss and Notre Dame haven't lost a game and Michigan State has lost one, to Oregon (No. 3 on my preseason)."

First, he justifies our #6 ranking by citing his preseason rankings. We're halfway through the college football season.  Why is anyone referring to preseason rankings to determine where teams should be ranked?  In week 8, every voter should be ranking teams based on what they see on the field, instead of preconceived notions from 2 months ago.  Valid points would include our secondary struggles against UAB, concerns with our late-game defense, or high praise for the other teams he mentioned.  But the fact that "MSU was unranked in the preseason" is completely irrelevant in week 8.

"As good a season as they are having and the fact that they beat three top-10 teams at the time of the meetings, I didn't believe they deserved to jump that many teams, that quickly -- many teams who had not lost."

Smits suggests that a team who hasn't lost should not get jumped, thus our #6 ranking behind the other undefeateds. But on Smits' ballot, Ole Miss (#17 preseason) jumped undefeated Notre Dame (#14 preseason) after winning at Texas A&M, a team that he specifically mentions is "no longer ranked." If undefeated Ole Miss can jump another undefeated team after beating an UNRANKED team, why can't undefeated Mississippi State jump a 1-LOSS team after beating a TOP-10 team in Auburn?

"Of course Texas A&M and LSU are no longer ranked, a point I believe many people are missing."

In earlier quotes, Smits repeatedly cited the rankings on his personal ballot.  But Smits' ballot this week has Texas A&M ranked #16.  So why is he suddenly using the AP poll and saying that Texas A&M is unranked?  Because it makes State's dominating win over Texas A&M look worse, that's why.  He uses whatever data supports his point - whether that's his ballot or the cummulative AP poll.

I love this, too.  He quotes the presason rankings of SEVEN teams, but when stating that Mississippi State beat Texas A&M and LSU, he abandons his preseason rankings in favor of current rankings.  Why aren't we still talking preseason, Garry?  LSU was #13 in the AP (#19 on your ballot) and Texas A&M was #21 (unranked on your ballot) in the pre-season.  Since you are practically giving Michigan State CREDIT for LOSING to preseason #3 Oregon (now #8), shouldn't we at least get credit for winning at LSU or against Texas A&M since they were ranked in the preseason?

Basically, Smits does his best to deceive to the reader and uses whatever poll or ballot best supports his argument.  There's no consistency and he cites his ballot, the AP poll, preseason rankings, and current rankings.  In each instance, he chooses whatever data diminishes Mississippi State's accomplishments the most.

Again, I'm not upset that he ranked us #6.  If his eyes tell him that we're the 6th-best team, then it's his job to rank us #6.  But he's using preconceived notions and hypocritical, inconsistent criteria to support his rankings.  And that's what I have a problem with.

But maybe we should focus on this quote:

"[The AP poll] is also become pretty meaningless, with the CFB Playoffs coming up, so I think fans bases getting too high or too upset with their team's standing should probably take a deep breath."

Why participate in something that you deem "pretty meaningless?" If you're not going to take it seriously, I'm sure that the AP could find someone else who does.