From SI.com's Andy Staples: Every week, Hugh Falk of Pollspeak.com will do From Scrimmage the honor of analyzing the college football polls. Today, he'll examine the ballot of an AP poll voter whose picks, on the surface, seem odd, but a deeper look provides a plausible explanation. (Hint: It's not me.) If you aren't tired of poll talk, check back later today to read why I ranked Alabama ahead of USC.
By Hugh Falk, Pollspeak.com
We've been getting some feedback about Pollstalker's most extreme voter this week: Doug Lesmerises of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. He has, by far, the most polarizing ballot we've ever seen, getting 361 "Good" votes and 432 "Bad" votes as of this writing. When voting closes, he will likely have the most votes in both categories.
He is undoubtedly the most "extreme voter" with 16 extreme votes and five near-extremes. That actually makes him our most extreme voter...ever. So we wanted to take this opportunity to give him an honorable mention for this accomplishment since he likely won't finish as either Good Voter or Bad Voter of the Week. (Since we use NET Good votes and Bad votes.)
We also wanted to take this opportunity to reiterate a point we've made several times in the past. "Extreme" does not equal "Bad". They aren't the same thing. Extreme votes are just a tool (one tool of several) for identifying voters who are biased or not paying attention. Extreme votes can also be a sign of somebody who has put a lot of thought into their votes, but who also has different information or perspective. That is definitely the case with Lesmerises.
You can read Lesmerises' perspective in his own words HERE. However, to paraphrase, he is trying to adhere to the AP's primary guideline: "Base your vote on performance, not reputation or preseason speculation." So he didn't even look at his preseason ballot and ranked the teams based mainly on how they performed in week one. So the teams with the most impressive wins (Alabama, BYU and Oklahoma State) get his top three spots, which definitely puts him in the minority.
But should it? This is exactly what the AP asks from its voters, and Lesmerises' article proves he put a lot of thought into his choices. This was not a case of throwing darts or done to spite the BCS as some fans have suggested.
At the end of his explanation, he makes it clear that his ballot next week might look completely different, which is again an AP guideline: "Don't hesitate to make significant changes in your ballot from week to week." So we have high hopes for his week three ballot as well.
Doug Lesmerises may not be a folk hero, but we feel he still deserves some recognition for his ability to look at college football teams objectively and report the facts as he sees them. We're not saying his ballot is perfect, or that you can't argue his choices individually. Just don't look at all of the red and yellow in his ballot and automatically think he is a bad voter. Instead do some digging. For example, look for voters who ranked Oklahoma over BYU after the Cougars defeated the Sooners on a neutral field. (This is another tool for spotting "Bad" voters.) This week Pollspeak will sing the praises of Doug Lesmerises as a voting hero for trying to do the right thing and seeing it through to a level we haven't witnessed before.