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home : blogs_old : hang time December 17, 2014

Hang Time
By Steve Stockmar
Daily Courier sports editor Steve Stockmar gives you the cheat sheet for today’s top sports stories.
Saturday, August 03, 2013

Are preseason sports polls all smoke, or is there some fire?

By Steve Stockmar

Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier
The Yavapai College soccer team celebrates its NJCAA Region 1 Soccer Championships back on Oct. 27, 2012, at Mountain Valley Park in Prescott Valley.

Pop quiz: Name the easiest way to tell that fall sports are fast approaching:

a) The weather starts to cool

b) You start online shopping for new team merch

c) Preseason polls are released

If you picked 'c', you're right.

Of course the weather doesn't cool in Arizona anytime close to the beginning of fall. And if you only shop for team gear once a year, your homerism needs help.

But preseason polls we got.

Are they a good tool for measuring teams' strengths, though?

They're certainly conversation starters (hey, I just started one!), and that's very good for sports nuts. They're good for quick reminders of what went down last year for those whose short-term memory gets clogged by beer, taquitos and TV schedules.

Are preseason polls accurate? You tell me.

The University of Alabama clocks in at No. 1 in Thursday's USA Today preseason coaches' poll. The defending champs got 58 of 62 first-place votes. Half of the top 10, in fact, comes from that dreaded SEC, which is about as popular nationally as the Yankees or Duke basketball, and for all the same dynastic reasons.

OK, so maybe the Tide is an easy pick for No. 1.

Don't forget, though, that last year, the preseason No. 3 team was USC. And by the final poll of the fall, the Trojans were not even on the poll. So that kind of shoots down the 2012 preseason poll's credibility, no?

Also Thursday, the NJCAA released the men's soccer preseason poll.

Our own Yavapai College, the seven-time national champs (but none since 2008) came in at No. 5 in the nation.

I can buy that, given that the YC program is annually a top contender.

But Tyler, Texas, at No. 1?

First things first, the Tyler Apaches are the best team in the nation of late. They've won three of the past four national titles under head coach Steve Clements, who has been named the National Coach of the Year at the tournament three times over the same span.

However, when considering that 11 Tyler players graduated off last year's title team, should that indicate an uncertain strength heading into 2013 when the new club hasn't even fielded a practice yet?

Hard to say.

Preseason polls are fun and get fans pumped up for upcoming opening games.

But are they just that, fun? Or, do you place actual value on what the pollsters say about the teams to watch?

Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, August 04, 2013
Article comment by: Horse racing fan

Politics, where the results are being decided by television programers and the overall content is losing my attention, sports will at least always hold my attention, if only for Monday mornings, checking the point spread, and hoping I've freed up my Monday night.

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