There's only so much we can do with these votes. Three years ago, I found that two separate lists of CIS football top 10 votes were largely the same, moving teams up when they win and down more quickly when they lose. It's not easy to be informed about teams from across the country, to say the least (and to say something unoriginal, for that matter).
As well, it's the first week, and basically by definition it's too early to tell who's who. In the first vote of 2010, the Mustangs were 8th, Rouge et Or 2nd, and Dinos 1st — a few months later, that supposed No. 1 team would get blown out in the Vanier by the No. 2 team, and the No. 8 team would play Laval close in a bowl game. Saskatchewan opened at No. 3 that year and bowed out of the postseason after a conference semifinal. In the beginning in 2011, No. 3 McMaster lost to No. 2 Western and stayed below them for 8 of the 10 weeks, despite eventually winning it all, dispatching the Mustangs along the way without much effort. In fact, in each of the last three years, the No. 1 preseason team didn't win the Vanier Cup (though they did play in it, each time), a factoid that says nothing about Laval's chances this year but everything about reading too much into early-season polls.
Having said all that, it does get us talking about the game, which is enough of a reason. Here, then, are the ballots from our staff (myself, Andrew Bucholtz, Neate Sager, Kevin Garbuio), compared to the official release:
- Laval — Ranked 1st by all of us. Least surprising ranking in the history of ranking things.
- Queen’s — 3rd by Neate, 2nd by Andrew, and 5th and 6th by those of us who didn't go to that school. Kidding, of course. Actually the average difference between Queen's (141 points in the vote) and No. 6 McMaster (122) is just one spot per voter, showing how they, and all the teams in between, are mixed together in a mess of August uncertainty. This is a pretty good team and I fully expect that 6th is the lowest I'll ever have them this year.
- Calgary — 5th on Neate's ballot, 3rd on mine and Andrew's, unranked by Kevin. I will admit to a "oh, come on" response to the 32-3 exhibition loss to Laval, mostly because it allowed me to make facile comparisons to that awful 2010 Vanier, possibly the worst football game I've watched all the way through. But I didn't use it to push the Dinos down (not that my No. 3 ranking is inherently correct; see earlier comment about reading too much into these). Also our first case of someone ranking a team outside the Top 6 (the fictional existence of which satisfies long-held personal belief that there should not be a Top 10 in a league this size).
- Western — Ranked 8th by Neate and 7th by Kevin, then 4th by the rest. Beat Toronto by 36, which was only the third-most lopsided OUA score of the opening weekend.
- Montreal — 4th on Neate's ballot, 6th on Andrew's and Kevin's, 5th on mine. Not much to say here. They'll get moved up if they're undefeated in non-Laval games, and certainly will be if they actually beat them.
- McMaster — 2nd by Neate, 7th by Andrew, 8th by Kevin, 2nd by me. Either Neate and I are both right, and this team will succeed regardless of the players they graduated, or we're both wrong (in which case we are at least not alone), or it means absolutely nothing and you stopped reading five sentences ago.
- Guelph — 6th, 9th, 2nd, 8th. With the exception of Kevin's No. 2 ranking, here's a clear illustration of our consensus opinion on the top 5/6 teams in the country. Their win over Laurier, by 14 points, is technically the closest result in all of CIS football this year, and observations like those are definitely why you stopped reading now.
- Sherbrooke — 9th, 10th, 4th, 7th. They got some love last year after beating Montreal in the playoffs (following an 0-2 season series in which they were outscored 53-20). 8th seems about right for now.
- Saskatchewan — 7th, 5th, 3rd, unranked. A popular approach with the Atlanta Braves in the 1990s was to assume that they will win their division every year until they don't. The opposite version of that rule of thumb has no relevance whatsoever to the Huskies, not at all.
- Manitoba — unranked, 8th, unranked, unranked. What does it mean to be No. 10 in the first ranking of a CIS football season? It means three of four semi-randomly-chosen voters don't think you're a top 10 team.