Friday, May 26, 2006

Happy Memorial Day Weekend

Some dibs and dabs while you are getting your BBQ's ready for this weekend or loading up your IPod with music:

1) While you're looking for stuff for your IPod, you can download the latest I-AA Waves radio show which features an interview with (you guessed it) me, talking about the preseason Any Given Saturday poll and why there are no Patriot League schools in the Top 25.

2) HoyaSaxa.Com has a special memorial day blog entry which talks about why the Hoyas are silver and blue, and talks briefly about those Hoya alums who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Go read - you're not working right now or anything, are you?

3) You may have looked at the blog an noticed that things are, well, a little different. That's because I've been making some small tweaks to the interfaces of the blog, and I've been updating the "I-AA Stadium Finder" at the bottom of the page. (Call it, if you will, some last-minute "spring cleaning".) I've upgraded to the latest version of the Google Maps API (v2.0), and as a result I've cleaned up the code and made some subtle changes, making it work more like how it was intended, and making it a bit faster. It's a work in progress, but the main work is done. Check it out!

4) If you don't know, as a Lehigh fan you have another reason to rejoice this summer: Lafayette's Fisher Field is getting a badly-needed facelift, with new seats and a new turf. (No more picking splinters off your butt after Lehigh/Lafayette!) Want to see what's happening behind enemy lines? Here's a webcam that shows you the progress.

5) Hard to believe, but it's 100 days until Lehigh kicks off against Albany September 2nd.

Have a safe and happy holiday weekend!

Monday, May 22, 2006

My AGS Poll Picks

The first poll is out of the 2006 season. It's the highly-predictive Any Given Saturday poll, voted on by active folks in the I-AA community (including myself). This year held some major surprises - and some majorly overrated teams.

Here's the Top 25, and my commentary below.

Any Given Saturday Poll Preseason Top 25
(First place votes in parenthesis)
1. Appalachian State (45)
2. New Hampshire (31)
3. Northern Iowa (7)
4. Montana (2)
5. Furman (2)
6. Cal Poly
7. Youngstown State
8. James Madison (2)
9. Illinois State
10. Delaware
11. McNeese State
12. North Dakota State (1)
13. Georgia Southern
14. Massachusetts
15. Eastern Illinois
16. Hampton
17. Southern Illinois
18. Coastal Carolina
19. Montana State
20. UC Davis
21. Texas State
22. Nicholls State
23. Eastern Washington
24. Eastern Kentucky
25. Richmond
Biggest Surprise: Shockingly, no Patriot League teams made the Top 25. Lafayette, Lehigh, and Colgate all got just about an equal amount of votes, but just under Richmond, the #25 team. The fact that no Ivy teams made the Top 25 was a smaller surprise, but less so since there is no clear frontrunner and it seems like every team in the upper echelon of the Ivy - Harvard, Yale, Penn and Brown - have major holes to fill.

Slightly overrated: Eastern Illinois, the best team of the OVC (a weaker conference than the Patriot League), is a pretty good team with lots of returning starters, but they're not #15 good. I had them at #20.

Slightly underrated: I'd watch out for #14 UMass, who are returning a lot of starters but also have to be a hungry team after barely losing a playoff bid at the end of last year. I had them at #7.

Massively underrated: You may not know of Missouri State now (of the Gateway conference), but my prediction is you will, with all 11 starters returning on a smothering young defense and an improving offense.

Massively overrated: Georgia Southern is a program with a new head coach and the hardest schedule in I-AA, who is rumored to be dismantling the triple-option attack they've used for the past countless years. No question in my mind they have #13 in this countdown on reputation alone.

They Should Be There: Aside from our beloved Patriot League teams and sleeper Missouri State, Northwestern State sould not be ignored with a hugely talented team that just last year was ranked #1 and beat a I-A in Louisiana-Monroe - and also has the bulk of their team returning this year. I also think Grambling and South Carolina State, two HBCU's from the SWAC and MEAC respectively, deserve consideration over some of the more borderline teams as well.

They Shouldn't Be There: There's always a few preseason Top 25 teams that are "running on empty" because they are are decimated by graduation, and this year features a bunch of them. Eastern Washigton tops this list (Walter Payton-winning QB Erik Meyer and WR Eric Kimble are gone), Texas State (QB Barrick Nealy), Nicholls State (12 starters gone) and Montana State (QB Travis Lulay). In addition, I like UC Davis too, but you've got to be concerned about their slide to end the year last year, and also in adding a third Great West team to the Top 25 over a Patriot school.

My picks are below.

1. New Hampshire
2. Appalachian St
3. Northern Iowa
4. Cal Poly
5. Montana
6. Illinois St
7. Massachusetts
8. Furman
9. James Madison
10. North Dakota St
11. McNeese St
12. Hampton
13. Youngstown St
14. Delaware
15. Colgate
16. Idaho St
17. Missouri St
18. Northwestern St
19. Richmond
20. Eastern Illinois
21. Coastal Carolina
22. Southern Illinois
23. Grambling
24. South Carolina St
25. Lehigh
BIGGEST FALLING TEAM FROM 2005: Georgia Southern
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