The final BlogPoll of the 2011 college football regular season disagrees with the final BCS rankings: while Alabama is headed to New Orleans to play LSU for the BCS National Championship as the BCS' No. 2 team, the coterie of bloggers that comprises the 2011 BlogPoll crew has Oklahoma State second after unbeaten LSU, and slides Alabama down to third.
This is considerably more love than the Bulldogs earned in either of the mainstream polls, or in the preseason magazines, which have tended to account for a pair of red-siren "X-factors" – a redshirt freshman quarterback and a totally revamped defensive scheme under a new coordinator – by dropping the 'Dogs into the 20-25 range, or omitting them altogether. This is a rational response.
I find it hard to believe, though, that either fledgling QB Aaron Murray or Todd Grantham's trendy 3-4 scheme on defense will turn out to be a significant downgrade from departed QB Joe Cox and whatever it was former defensive coordinator Willie Martinez was doing to lead the D on a steady decline over the course of his five-year tenure. This is still one of the most talented lineups in the SEC on both sides of the ball, and Murray will be surrounded by nearly the entire 2009 offense, including first-rate target A.J. Green and all five starters on the offensive line (who, along with oft-injured Trindon Sturdivant, have combined for more career starts coming into the season, 155, than any other offensive line in the country). If any team is going to bust up the Gator-Tide duopoly at the top of the SEC, Georgia is the bet.
The Sporting Blog is no more and has been sold to SB Nation. This is mostly a problem for me when I try to explain what I do to people over 50—before I could just say I write for "the AOL" or "the Sporting News" and that would create flickers of recognition. In other ways it is basically no change. I'll write non-Michigan stuff for SBN, keep the mothership going as it was before, and work on my patient explanations of how you can make a living writing on the internet.
Another thing that is tentatively moving to SBN: the BlogPoll. CBS never did anything with it, shoving it into a corner and studiously ignoring it. At SBN it will get the tech help it needs . . .