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Illinois writer defends putting Michigan No. 1 on his ballot

By Tom Fornelli | College Football Writer

When the AP poll was released this past weekend Michigan was slotted at #8, but the one thing you couldn't help but notice when seeing Michigan's ranking was the "(1)" next to its name. Somebody ranked Michigan at #1 on their ballot, and of course when something this strange happens, people need to know who did it and why.

Well, it wasn't a Michigan beat reporter, but in fact, it was a reporter from a rival of Michigan's. Bob Asmussen covers Illinois for the Champaign News-Gazette, and he explained to AnnArbor.com why he placed Michigan atop his ballot.

"I decided late spring on Michigan, and said, 'OK, I'll take the hits.' Up (in Ann Arbor), I'll be fine, but elsewhere, you can imagine the fan reaction to this," Asmussen told AnnArbor.com. "Even the Illinois reaction, they don't like Michigan, so they're like, 'Why are you doing this?'"

Well, why are you doing this, Bob?

"First of all, Brady Hoke has done a great job," Asmussen said. "I think when he came in there, it could have been a disaster. And instead, he managed that season last year. So, I'm impressed with the way he's turned that thing.

"I think they have extreme momentum going into the year, coming off the bowl and they played well down the stretch last year. I like that, and I think that's important to this team because, they obviously lost their way under [Rich Rodriguez]."

Is that enough reason to rank Michigan ahead of teams like Alabama -- who it opens the season against -- USC, LSU and Oklahoma? Actually, yes, yes it is.

I don't agree with Asmussen's belief that Michigan is the best team in the country. He points to the way they finished the season in the Sugar Bowl, and as someone who was sitting in the press box of the Superdome during that game, I can tell you that Michigan may have won, but it looked downright terrible at times while doing so.

All that said, however, Asmussen's explanation is perfectly fine. These are polls, mind you, and preseason polls at that.

There is absolutely no data to go off of here, this is all opinion, and while you may not agree with an opinion that doesn't mean it's wrong. I mean, if everybody was forced to have the same opinion on where teams should be ranked, then what would be the point of having a poll in the first place?

Plus, let's not forget the tale of AP voter Corky Simpson. Back in 1992 everybody in the world thought the Tucscon Citizen sportswriter was an idiot when he was the only voter to put Alabama at #1 in the preseason AP poll. Simpson kept them there all season, too, because Alabama kept on winning.

The Tide would then end the season by upsetting Miami in the 1993 Sugar Bowl and be named national champions.

Simpson got the last laugh then, and for all we know, Asmussen may get it now.

You can learn how every AP voter, not just Asmussen, voted at Pollspeak.

 
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