I’m starting to feel like my football life is in some sort of Bizarro World. The entire football order I have come to learn in the twenty or so years I’ve followed the game is standing on its head. The Michigan State Spartans are defending co-champions in the Big Ten and a poll on a Detroit Radio station says that the Lions are much more likely to win their division than the Michigan Wolverines are to win the Big Ten.
Matt Shepard’s show on WDFN is part of my radio rotation on my morning commute and he frequently references their poll question of the day. I like using polls on this site just for fun or as a quick way to get a feel for how other people are thinking. I don’t put too much thought into them unless the results are surprising. The results of Shep’s poll surprised me.
The question was hypothetical but forced an answer of the most likely of two unlikely outcomes: the Lions win the NFC North or the University of Michigan wins the Big Ten. How would you vote? Results pulled from the WDFN website shortly before posting time say almost three out of every four of you would give the nod to the Lions:
The disparity between each choice leads me to believe there is much more than a heavy Spartan vote in play here. Confidence is obviously sky-high among Lions fans. It would be easy to dismiss this poll given the struggles Michigan has faced since Lloyd Carr’s retirement but I want you to take a moment to really ponder this situation.
Think about it. The Lions play in a division that not only features the defending Super Bowl champion but also the other NFC Championship Game participant. It isn’t like the Lions are just trying to get back on track after hitting a bump in the road. There is no track record to go on, no tradition of excellence like some Michigan fans could use to justify a vote for the Wolverines winning the Big Ten.
Both teams will have significant hurdles to clear if they are to contend for division/conference championships in 2011 but given the unlikelihood of either event, I would have expected the poll results to be much closer to a 50/50 split. Perhaps this is simply the manifestation of excitement for the Lions season outpacing the excitement of the Wolverines season. Whatever the case, I find the results significant given the historical context of the names involved.