Commentary

Power Rankings: Hard as Harbaugh

Originally Published: January 3, 2011
By Greg Hardy | Special to Page 2

You're getting the 411 on what's up in 2011 with the Page 2 Power Rankings! Our formula combines the results of two surveys: a human poll concocted by ESPN Page 2's Greg Hardy and a scientifically calibrated poll generated by computer analysis. Unfortunately, our computer spent the weekend scouring its cable TV scheduling grid trying to find out which channel was the new Oprah Winfrey Network, in case she booked sports programs such as an "Around the Horn"-like show about figure skating or a reality show like "WNBA Husbands." Set that DVR, then get on to the results!

1. Jim Harbaugh

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
10.0 9.8 19.8

Credentials: No matter what career path the Stanford coach picks after the Cardinal's BCS game, now is the peak of his Master of the Universe status. He could elect to bring Michigan back to glory. He can instantly whip the San Francisco 49ers into playoff shape. He can have pajama sleepover parties with John Elway and Tim Tebow in Denver. What would you do if you were in his shoes? Keep in mind that sleepover parties with Elway and Tebow will only involve milk and cookies, a delivery pizza if you're lucky, and lights out by 10 p.m. Jim, go with the Michigan job, but only if you can convince the Wolverines to force the Big Ten to rename its football divisions as "Harbaugh's Dainty Playthings" and "Jim's Steamrollees."

2. Favre out to pasture

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
9.4 9.7 19.1

Credentials: Now the roughest transition of his life after football kicks in. Spotlight? Over. And out. Whoever's in charge of his friends-and-family-only retirement party barbecue back in Mississippi should make sure the backyard is equipped with a podium and microphones for him to issue tearful statements from, or else he's going to be completely lost.


3. Playoff-worthy Seahawks

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
8.6 8.8 17.4

Credentials: A 7-9 team can host a first-round game in the NFL postseason, and don't try to convince coach Pete Carroll otherwise. The beautiful thing about sports is that the previously impossible becoming reality is always just around the corner. Just make sure Pete knows his team can't advance if Seattle loses to New Orleans by a final score of 7-9.


4. Facebook jackpot

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
8.0 8.1 16.1

Credentials: Goldman Sachs is putting a $500 million bet on the social network, and the company's valuation is pegged at $50 billion. Financial analysts are saying this is a no-risk bet, based on calculations that, in a worst-case scenario, Facebook can blackmail every college kid in America with his or her Spring Break pictures right before he or she enters the job market.


5. Big Ten shankapotomus

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
7.0 7.7 14.7

Credentials: Ohio State has two options as motivational ploys for the Sugar Bowl to avenge the league's 0-5 New Year's Day debacle. Go out and play like gangbusters against Arkansas and erase the Buckeyes' 0-9 bowl record against SEC teams. Or have Jim Tressel vow that with a loss everyone on the team must get a biceps tattoo that says "At least we tried."


6. Gym newbies

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
6.1 5.6 11.7

Credentials: Ah, the New Year's Eve Fitness Resolutions that are doomed to fail. Oh, we're not talking about you, of course. But we do urge you to act nice to those people who are going to buy a year's membership but show up for only three days. After all, it's their unused balances that keep what you pay year after year in check. Unless your gym's owner pockets that cash and uses it to afford a membership to a nicer gym.


7. Outdoor night hockey

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
5.1 5.5 10.6

Credentials: The NHL did the right thing by moving its Winter Classic between Washington and Pittsburgh to a night game to avoid the rain. It was either that or retrofit everybody's hockey stick to sport an umbrella at the top of it. But isn't outdoor hockey supposed to be about embracing the elements? Next time you stage your showcase at night, go all in by playing with the stadium lights out and only the moon for illumination. And it wouldn't hurt your winter wonderland credibility by letting a moose or two wander into the rink during power plays.


8. Kobe vs. Phil

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
5.2 5.2 10.4

Credentials: The new year is starting with a thud for the Lakers, with a blowout loss at home to Memphis. Coach Jackson accused his star of putting on a hot-dogging, one-man show. Bryant had some un-Zen-like counter-zingers for his Zen master. Maybe David Stern can step in and threaten the Lakers organization with contraction unless the two of them start peacefully carpooling to games. A little alone time in bumper-to-bumper traffic should hammer all the hard feelings out.


9. Charlie Weis

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
5.3 5.1 10.4

Credentials: The Florida Gators have a new offensive coordinator, as soon as the Kansas City Chiefs get knocked out of the playoffs. While it's impossible to predict how a sudden switch to a pro-style offense in Gainesville will affect the balance of power in the Southeastern Conference, his arrival is going to cause a huge swing in any Party School rankings that take into account community-wide chicken wing take-out orders.


10. Useless bowl games

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
4.7 4.4 9.1

Credentials: While we wait ... and wait ... and wait ... and wait ... for next week's BCS title game showdown, we've still got a smattering of extraneous exhibitions on deck to tide us over. Just tell yourself that these are play-in games for a nonexistent playoff system.


11. UConn's streak

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
4.8 4.7 9.5

Credentials: We're not saying the Huskies women's team let its 90-game win streak end to Stanford on purpose. But everyone knows Geno Auriemma will sell a lot more T-shirts a few years from now celebrating a record-breaking 91-game win streak.


12. NFL help wanted

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
4.6 4.3 8.9

Credentials: On a human level, it's no fun to realize that so many coaches and their families have their lives turned upside down with the annual coaching carousel of hirings and firings. But it's a small price to pay to see so many unsuccessful coaches have free time in the coming months to break down the NFL draft as TV analysts. If you can't trust the scouting prowess of guys who couldn't successfully manage their roster in the first place, who can you trust?


13. Couch Potato heaven

Human Poll Computer Poll Power Points Trending
1.1 1.4 2.5

Credentials: The Neilson Company said we watched more television than ever in 2010, up to an average of 34 hours per week. Dear TV News Networks: You do realize that if this inspires you to make a documentary about how watching so much TV is bad for us, that's going to boost us up to 35 hours per week.


Also receiving votes
• The garbage jumper: In the category of "Will miracles never cease?" we've got the case of the New York City man who reportedly tried committing suicide by jumping out a ninth-story window but was saved when he landed on a pile of garbage bags that hadn't been collected since the monster snow storm. We'll have a "TV movie of the week" made of his life story starring Christian Bale -- unless after "The Fighter" he's afraid of being pigeonholed as an actor whose best work only comes when he jumps out of windows.

Never receiving votes
• Impulse buys in 2011: Step 1 of getting your personal finances in shape has to include resisting the temptation to buy dumb stuff. For starters, forbid yourself from ordering "As Seen on TV!" trinkets that infomercials make seem irresistible. Really, "PajamaJeans"? ... Well, we're mocking PajamaJeans for now, until they come out with a line for guys featuring logos from favorite sports teams. But you won't be able to mock us for wearing PajamaJeans, because we'll only wear them while ensconced in our favorite Snuggie.

Greg Hardy is a Page 2 contributor. It's all pop culture all the time at Twitter.com/HardyVision.


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Greg Hardy is a Page 2 contributor. It's all pop culture all the time at Twitter.com/HardyVision.