Monday, August 20, 2007

the Leaden-Robed ones | by Jay

The preseason AP poll came out late last week. The Irish are in the "others receiving votes" bin with 11 votes. That's good for 39th overall -- and ten spots worse than how we fared in the Coaches Poll (90 votes, 29th overall).

For the top 25, the AP lines up suspiciously well with the coaches -- in fact, it's the exact same 25-team set, shuffled ever so slightly. Only a couple of differences:

First Place votes. Coaches spread out the gold stars among four different teams: Southern Cal (45), LSU (4), Florida (9), and Michigan (2); while AP crowned one king, and a couple of serfs: Southern Cal (62), LSU (2), and West Virginia (1).

Ripples. Only four teams are more than two spots' difference between the polls: Florida (AP 6, Coaches 3), West Virginia (3, 6), Auburn (18, 14), and UCLA (14, 17).

• Best of the rest. AP really likes Missouri, Georgia Tech, Boston College and Oregon, while the Coaches like BC, GT, Miami, and us.

Since the dawn of the AP Poll 57 years ago, how many years would you guess Notre Dame started the season unranked? Would you believe only 13 times?
ND Unranked to Start the Season
Year Coach Previous Year
Final Record
1957 BRENNAN 2-87-3
1959 KUHARICH * 6-45-5
1960 KUHARICH 5-52-8
1961 KUHARICH 2-85-5
1962 KUHARICH 5-55-5
1963 DEVORE ** 5-52-7
1964 PARSEGHIAN * 2-79-1
1986 HOLTZ * 5-65-6
2000 DAVIE 5-79-3
2004 WILLINGHAM 5-76-6
2005 WEIS * 6-69-3
2007 WEIS 10-3?
* first year as coach
** Devore was a 1-year interim in '63

As you can see, most of the NRs were well-deserved at least in part based on the previous season's results. But this year is a serious outlier. Finishing a season 10-3, and starting the next season unranked is simply unprecedented in Irish history.