/columns/around-the-nation/2013/poll-positions-week-7

Poll positions: Doing some number crunching

An Andre Carter interception helped Salisbury defeat St. John Fisher and play its way back into the Top 25.
Salisbury athletics photo

The poll doesn't exist to steal anybody's joy by disrespecting them or withholding love. It is merely a prism through which to view accomplishments on a national, coast-to-coast, best-of-the-best-of-the-244 scale.

Why do you want to see your school ranked?

Think about that for a second. Do you want an honest assessment of where keen observers think your team stands? Or do you just like to see your team's name in lights?

We all like to be appreciated and loved. Nothing wrong with that. But before you toss a subtle or not-so-subtle jab at the pollsters who "aren't giving us any love," ask what it is you want the love for.

Maybe it'd be cool to see your team in the rankings. After Week 7, we're actually down to just 24 unbeatens, so every undefeated team could be ranked. Of course, that wouldn't account for Franklin, whose only D-III loss is by three points at No. 1 Mount Union, or Pacific Lutheran, whose loss is to No. 2 Linfield, or Wittenberg, whose loss is to I-AA Butler (which is 6-2).

Shouldn't the poll reflect reality? Shouldn't respect be earned? Why would you want to be ranked, say, 15th, only to get blown out in the playoffs by a team you think you are better than? Wouldn't you want to know where you truly stand, so if you pull the upset you can enjoy it in all its marvelous glory?

With 244 teams, we'll forever be in a perpetual state of having more than 25 that seem worthy of being ranked, by one metric or another. The poll doesn't exist to steal anybody's joy by disrespecting them or withholding love. It is merely a prism through which to view accomplishments on a national, coast-to-coast, best-of-the-best-of-the-244 scale.

Winning is the meat. Being ranked is gravy. (or maybe it's cake/icing?)

Number crunch

The No. 1 team in the country has beaten two teams that are 0-6 and two that are 1-5. That's no fault of Mount Union's of course -- its schedule just happens to be backloaded with 6-0 Heidelberg, 4-2 Baldwin Wallace and 6-0 John Carroll.

All records and opponents are not created equal -- 1-5 UW-La Crosse would certainly smash some 5-1 teams out there -- but for fun, I took a look at how many teams with losing records, .500 marks and winning records each top 25 team played. Composite records, of past, future and combined opposition for any team are available via the NCAA stats link.

No. 1 Mount Union 1 team with a winning record (Franklin), 1 at .500, 4 with losing records.
No. 2 Linfield 1/0/4.
No. 3 UMHB 3/1/2.
No. 4 North Central 1/0/5.
No. 5 Bethel 4/1/1.
No. 6 Hobart 1/2/2.
No. 7 UW-Whitewater 1/0/5.
No. 8 UW-Platteville 2/0/4.
No. 9 UW-Oshkosh 1/1/4.
No. 10 Wheaton 3/0/3.
No. 11 Heidelberg 0/2/4.
No. 12 Franklin 3/0/3.
No. 13 Johns Hopkins 3/0/3.
No. 14 Wabash 2/2/2.
No. 15 St. Thomas 3/1/2.
No. 16 John Carroll 2/1/3.
No. 17 Pacific Lutheran 2/1/3.
No. 18 Wittenberg 2/1/4.
No. 19 Wesley 5/1/1.
No. 20 Illinois Wesleyan 1/0/5.
No. 21 Willamette 0/0/5.
No. 22 Concordia-Moorhead 2/0/4.
No. 23 St. John's 3/0/3.
No. 24 Salisbury 3/1/2.
No. 25 St. John Fisher 3/2/1.

Might be an interesting thing for pollsters to factor in, although context of each record is important. One could just look at results vs. teams with winning records, or any other number of ways. If a top 25 voter used the chart above, and it and overall record were weighted strongly, Bethel might be the nation's No. 1 team, followed by Mary Hardin-Baylor and Wesley.

Adam Turer

Adam Turer graduated in 2006 from Washington and Lee University, where he was a two-year starter at free safety. He lives in Cincinnati and covers area high school sports in addition to his full-time job as an attorney. Adam has contributed to D3football.com since 2007 and is in his second season writing Around the Nation after spending four seasons writing Around the Mid-Atlantic.

2014-2015 columnist: Ryan Tipps.
2001-2013 columnist: Keith McMillan.

Previous Columns

September 21, 2017
Rivalry showdown takes center field
Don't let the unique location or record-breaking attendance numbers distract you. The Tommie-Johnnie...
September 17, 2017
Feeding the beasts
Several teams remained undefeated by following a familiar formula: get the ball in your best...
September 14, 2017
Back from hiatus
Three former All-Region players spent 2016 on the sidelines. One was actually on the sidelines after...
September 10, 2017
How to pull off an upset
It takes aggression. Fourth downs, fake punts, and two-point conversions all factored into the...
September 7, 2017
Digging in for Duke
Muhlenberg head coach Mike Donnelly has been forced to the sidelines this year as he fights acute...
September 3, 2017
Remembering how to win again
Week One did not disappoint. Snap Judgments returns, getting you caught up on the Top 25 upsets,...
August 31, 2017
This season signifies one last shot at Salem
If you've never been to Salem for the Stagg Bowl, 2017 will be your last chance, at least for a...
December 20, 2016
Year in review: The year everything changed
We had a brand-new Division III national champion for the first time since 2007. Mount Union lost a...
November 17, 2016
Playoff picks, surprises, disappointments
Around the Nation has assembled a team of prognosticators for an annual look at who might surprise...
November 13, 2016
Snap Judgments: Hellos and goodbyes
Today is going to be bittersweet for many. We take a look at the teams that announced their arrival...
November 10, 2016
Out of the darkness, light
Sometimes, things don’t go your way. Sometimes, your highest expectations are crushed by...
 • More Division III football news releases

Other Columnists