Why Youngstown Ursuline wasn't ranked in final AP D-V poll
With our 20/20 hindsight goggles, we know the Fighting Irish should have been third, with Kirtland and Coldwater set to decide Nos. 1 and 2 on Saturday. Not only should Ursuline have been third, you could have stopped the poll after that, because no one else is close.
Ursuline was 12th in the final poll, which was released after the end of the regular season. The simple answer for the Irish's final ranking is they were 10th after Week 9, and they lost in Week 10, making it easier to advance another team.
Let's look closer. After Week 6, Ursuline was 3-3 and on a three-game losing streak. Its three victories were over 2-4 Youngstown East, 2-4 East Tech and 3-3 Lake Catholic. A voter could reasonably argue that after going 4-6 in 2011, and with wins over teams that were a combined 7-11, Ursuline's resume was not that of a top-10 team. The three losses came to teams that were all undefeated, but the counter to that would be no matter how difficult the schedule is, you need to win one of those tough games at some point.
With their 3-3 record, the Irish were ranked 12th. In Week 7, they won at Steubenville, which was 5-1 at the time. As impressive as that win was, it didn't do much for Ursuline's poll standing. They moved up one spot to 11th, but they didn't gain any points -- they had 28 poll points after Week 6 and stayed at that number after Week 7.
In Weeks 8 and 9, Ursuline beat Erie (Pa.) Strong Vincent, which was 3-3 going into the game, and Cardinal Mooney, which was 3-4. The Irish were moved up one spot to 10th.
Then came a Week 10 loss to St. Vincent-St. Mary. This is where the politics of polls comes in. Voters will look at things like how good some wins are, quality losses and whether a team deserves to lose its spot in the poll. Unfortunately, the further you get away from "Which is the better team?" the less accurate your poll will be.
In the final poll, Ursuline lost 19 poll points and fell from 10th to 12th. The Irish were passed by Cincinnati Summit Country Day, which advanced from 13th to ninth. Curiously, Summit Country Day picked up 18 poll points in one week after beating New Miami, a Division VI school that was 5-4 heading into Week 10. That's a pretty big jump for beating a team from a lower division that was one game over .500.
Situations like this are why the OHSAA stopped using polls to determine state champions in 1972. It's good for competition, too. If the champion was still determined by a poll, Ursuline would probably replace some of its tougher opponents with cupcakes in order to build a more glamorous resume. Instead, the Irish play the best teams they can.
- Howard Primer