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be a certain parity, you're bound to
have numbers of different predici-
nions vary on No. 1 spot tons."
By Pete Steinert
By Adam Schrager
The time: early evening, Sept. 10
The place: an Ann Arbor resi-
The situation: the nationally
televised Michigan-Notre Dame
The viewers: two loyal Michigan
"This should be a cakewalk for
Michigan," the first fan says. "We're
ranked No. 1 in the country, and
they're ranked 15th. We should have
"What do you mean?" the other
fan says with surprise. "I read in
some magazine that Notre Dame was
ranked fifth, and we're 27th. We're
going to get killed."
"Your magazine must have been
wrong because I saw another poll
where Michigan was second and
Notre Dame was 13th," the first fan
says. "The Irish have no chance."
"I think you're the one who's
mistaken, my friend," the second fan
says, becoming disgusted. "I also
read another poll that said that Notre
Dame was fifth and Michigan was
13th. Michigan better watch out."
Fans, welcome to the pre-season
poll zone. This is a dimension where
on a whim, reporters, editors, and
"experts" predetermine a team's fate
for the upcoming season. People
don't actually trust these polls
though, do they?
"I don't believe in those things,"
said Iowa head coach Hayden Fry on
being named No. 1 in the Sport
magazine pre-season poll. "I'd rather
be at the top than at the bottom
though. I'll have to sit down and
write those guys a thank-you note
before the season starts."
Thank-you notes have been com-
ing from a plethora of different
schools this season due to the parity
of college football. In 10 separate
college football pre-season polls,
four different teams (Michigan,
Iowa, Clemson, and Florida State)
have been named to the No. 1 slot.
"There's usually great difference
in pre-season polls unless there's a
great power entering the year," said
Sport's managing editor Peter Grif-
fin. "Generally though, there will be
a large overlap of the top four or five
teams in the country. But you have
to remember, these predictions are
pure opinion and speculation. And in
a year like this, where there seems to
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As far as the top five teams go,
only Florida State ranked in the top
five in all 10 polls studied. Clemson
appears in eight, Oklahoma in
seven, Nebraska in five, and South-
ern Cal, UCLA, Auburn and Notre
Dame in three.
It seems that this season, there is
not even the overlap, but instead a
feeling that anyone can beat anyone
else on a given Saturday. If this is
true, then do these polls matter? Do
these polls have any merit? Should
people continue to rank teams?
"You can't rank teams," said
Northwestern defensive tackle Andre
Walker. "No one picked Michigan
State to win the Big Ten last year,
and they did. Pre-season polls don't
mean anything. It all comes down to
Have no fear, Andre, one won't
see a poll in this article, simply for
the reason that the knowledge needed
for one is subjective. The result
would be purely opinion, somewhat
of an art, rather than a science.
Due to the large number of polls
and disparity among them, one
would think that what they say
would not have any impact, but this
couldn't be further from the truth.
"Generally, it puts a major bur-
den on a team to be named No. 1,"
said Griffin. "It creates outside ex-
pectations from fans all over the
country. If, for example, Iowa were
to finish 10th this season, which is
great, some people will be disap-
pointed because we predicted them to
be No. 1."
Michigan State is a gooddexam-
ple of a team whose fans are directly
affected by these pre-season polls. If
the polls can be believed, then the
Spartans, who are ranked in the top
20 by eight of ten polls, are forced
to consecutively play four teams that
have been ranked in the top five
(Notre Dame, Florida State, Iowa,
and Michigan). But because the
Spartans aresnot ranked in the top
five, does this mean they don't have
"I'm glad we're not ranked high
or favored to win the Big Ten," said
MSU quarterback Bobby McAllister.
"The guys who are up top now have
nowhere to go but down. I don't
envy them. It doesn't matter where
you start, it's where you end up."
So, where does this lead the vul-
nerable, permeable college football
"I don't know," said Ohio State
coach John Cooper. "It's not how
good we're going to be, but how
good we're going to be relative to
other teams. And if what they say is
true, I'm in deep, deep trouble."
There's more to Michigan's defensive line than just
All-America candidate Mark Messner - much more.
"The defensive line overall, I think, is going to be
really strong," junior defensive tackle Warde Manuel
said. "We have a lot of people returning. We only lost
two people from last year (Billy Harris and Dave Folk-
ertsma), and I think we have enough people back to be
strong and do what we need to do."
Messner - the team's top returning tackler and
sacker - lines up alongside middle guard Mike Teeter
and defensive tackle John Hermann. Teeter, a 6-4, 255-
pound junior, moves into Harris' vacated spot. Her-
mann started all 12 games last season and registered 11
tackles for losses, second on the team only to Messner.
going to be able to, hopefully, pick up his slack that
he doesn't get.
"I've lost a lot of weight. I'm down about 12
pounds since last season. My speed has increased and
probably my strength."
Teeter won the starting middle-guard spot in the spring.
gotten a lot of
press, and he's a
and a great
said. "That's go-
ing to leave me
out of the lime-
me as much. I'm
light. No one is going to key on
A knee injury sustained against Notre Dame limited his
playing time last season.
The Wolverines' depth goes at least four deep with
middle guard T.J. Osman and tackles Manuel, Brent
White, and Mike Evans. Any of the four could land
starting spots with plenty of other teams.
White (6-5, 248) continues to come back after seri-
ously injuring his knee in an automobile accident last
summer. The injury forced him to miss most of the
'87 season. He'll back up Messner.
After White's injury Michigan head coach Bo
Schembechler said, "(White), in my opinion, would
have ended up being one of the great pass rushers that
Manuel (6-5, 262) will press Hermann for playing
time at the other tackle position. Manuel saw his first
action as a Wolverine last year and showed good
potential, recording seven tackles for losses and three
"It (defensive tackle) will be a busy spot," Manuel
said. "I think John Hermann is an excellent player. I'll
do my best to push him in practice. Coach (Tom) Reed
plays us a lot, so I expect to get a lot time."
Osman started two games and played in five others
at middle guard a year ago. Evans seeks his first regu-
Messner, already Michigan's all-time leader in most
tackles for loss yardage, sacks and most sack yardage,
needs five more tackles for losses to move into first
place ahead of Curtis Greer. U
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PAGE 18 WEEKEND/SEPTEMBER 9, 1988
WEEKEND/SEPTEMBER 9, 1988