Bob Asmussen, a reporter for the Champaign News-Gazette and a beat writer for Illinois, has made national headlines by voting Michigan No. 1 in the AP's preseason college football poll. USC, Alabama, and LSU all received double-digit votes for the No. 1 ranking, with USC taking the spot with 25 votes. Sixty writers vote in the poll, but Asmussen was the only one who voted for Michigan.
He must be a madman.
Or maybe he just has his own opinion.
Taking a look at the various preseason polls, you won't see much disparity among the top 15 teams. The AP Poll and the USA Today Coaches Poll have identical rankings for teams 4 though 15. Really.
How does that happen? How is there no variance? Is it that obvious that Georgia is the No. 6 team in the country and is slightly better than No. 7 Florida State? Apparently it is. Are voters just regurgitating what they hear/read and putting it back out there in an endless cycle of media hearsay?
For starters, how can active coaches be allowed to vote? You don't need to be an insider to know that coaches have extremely hectic schedules. Do you think Lane Kiffin has good insight on whether Clemson or Texas is the better team? If he had to choose between the two, he'd likely lie and choose USC anyway. Coaches just don't have the time to accurately vouch for other teams' potential. And frankly, they probably don't care. Why is it their job to decide?
So if coaches are the ones watching game film and screaming at freshmen, the writers need to have the keen, objective eye for the preseason rankings. Yet, it's unlikely many of them have spent much time contemplating whether Wisconsin is better than West Virginia. Do you think the Washington beat writer really knows how good the Badgers will be at stopping the run this year or do you think he's just going by what everyone else is saying? Let's do some research here, guys. If you don't have the time to learn about the teams, don't vote. If you're just going to believe what everyone is saying, why waste your time? Where's the fun in that?
That leads us to Mr. Asmussen, who sparked controversy because he had a different opinion - one that isn't even far-fetched. Why not Michigan? The Wolverines went 11-2 last season, won a BCS bowl, and bring back a good chunk of that team. They also have the most dynamic player in college football in Denard Robinson, who is a senior leader, which is a big factor for consistency.
Don't bash Asmussen for having a different opinion and perspective on college football. At least he gave his vote some thought and didn't just buy-in to what he heard on SportsCenter. Oh, ESPN said so? Must be fact! Look at things for yourself and decide. It's not compelling hearing the same thing over and over again. Just because everyone is voting USC No. 1 doesn't mean the Trojans are the best team. It just means they've been talked about the most.
Maybe Denard Robinson won't have an RG-III-type season as Asmussen suggests. Maybe his gut feeling will be wrong. It doesn't matter. He gave us something different to think about. He gave us some new insight on the upcoming season and it apparently caught the college football world off-guard. He gave his vote some thought and made his own choice. Does that sound like the work of a madman to you?