Full disclosure: My latest AP ballot
I faced a hard choice on this week's ballot, setting me up for criticism -- varying in degree from scathing to subtle -- regardless of how I decided.
Which makes it no different than any other week. This time around, I'd invariably be branded a homer or hypocrite (or perhaps worse in the unfiltered galaxy of cyberspace), depending on the direction I took. All well and good. Let the vitriol fly; you won't hit a jaded conscience.
I put USF on my ballot.
Only a week ago, I indicated the Bulls' mid-September loss at Maryland was simply too ugly for them to warrant a ballot spot. Then I scrutinized the rest of my rankings. If I'm going to absolve other prominent teams (i.e. Oklahoma, FSU, North Carolina, Washington State, etc.) of unsightly defeats, I must do the same for the Bulls.
Moreover, I consider them among the 25 best teams in the country today (Apparently, so do a few others). Such is the inexact science of balancing a body of work against recent performance.
Elsewhere, I'm likely to catch flak for keeping Clemson at No. 1 despite the Tigers' struggle at 3-9 South Carolina. As an opponent of the style-points philosopy, I can't bring myself to penalize a team for entering its most hostile environment of the season -- with the rivalry dynamic at work -- and winning.
4. Michigan State
5. Ohio State
9. Notre Dame
10. North Carolina
13. Oklahoma State
17. Ole Miss