SI To Sue Universities… For Coaches’ Poll Ballots?

Give SPORTS ILLUSTRATED credit: they’ve got balls. For as much as a publication might be mindful of frivolous use of expensive things like, y’know, lawyers’ fees, the magazine is prepared to go to the courts to uncover a football program’s deepest, darkest secrets.

Hanging Chad
(”Does this say Connecticut at #3? Oh wait, this is basketball. No wonder Villanova’s also in the top 10.”)

No, this has nothing to do with recruiting, personnel files, or anything related to the day-to-day business of running an athletic department or college football team. No, SI’s target is, um, coaches’ poll ballots.

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NCAA Football Making Final Coaches’ Poll Secret

In the patchwork quilt of subjectivity that makes up the BCS, perhaps the most bizarre aspect is the coaches’ poll. While on one hand, it seems like coaches would be most qualified to judge the merit of one team over another, realistically, there’s no one coach or coaching staff who knows enough about the entire college football landscape to put together a good Top 25 without just pulling a “they’re high in the AP so whatever.”

Stalin Would Have Loved the BCS
(Is a comparison to Stalinist Russia just a little bit over the top? NYET, COMRADE!)

More importantly, the poll’s presence leaves the BCS selection process open to the undue influence of a handful of malicious coaches sandbagging a team out of contention. To that end, the USA TODAY has been publishing final coaches’ polls, eliminating any incentive to do so (unless a hypothetical coach really wants to spend time explaining to ESPN why he put Southern Cal at #22). So hey, glasnost’s working well, right? Great, let’s get rid of it!

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Your Dream BCS Title Game: Wisconsin Vs. Utah

College football fans - how do you feel about a BCS Title Game between Wisconsin and Utah? The downside: outside of fans of either school, no one knows more than two players on the two teams combined. The upside: at least it’s not Ohio State, ready to get shellacked by an SEC school again.

Wisconsin and Utah

The LOS ANGELES TIMES reports that title game match-up reflects the top two teams in the Colley Matrix, one of six computer ranking systems used to determine the BCS rankings. The match-up also goes to show why the Massey Rankings - another of the six - comes with the following disclaimer:

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Hawaii Gets First-Place Vote In Final Regular Season Coaches Poll

POLL NO LONGER MUM(ME) ABOUT WHO VOTED HAWAII #1: Tony Barnhart of the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION found some fun tidbits in the final coaches poll of the 2007 college football regular season:

Hawaii football sign

Most interesting was a first-place vote given to Hawaii, who needed a last-minute touchdown and last-second interception to defeat a 4-8 Washington at home late Saturday night.The undefeated and Sugar Bowl-bound Warriors were at the top of the list of Hal Mumme, head coach at fellow WAC member New Mexico State.

Mark Richt Les Miles

Meanwhile, some coaches were staying true to their school. LSU’s Les Miles and Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops each voted their own team #1, while Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer and Georgia’s Mark Richt each had their squads at #2 - with Richt putting his Bulldogs ahead of LSU.Like Mumme, Big Ten coaches also kept solidarity with their conference, as all seven that vote in the poll had Ohio State ranked #1 - even Michigan’s Lloyd Carr.

Lloyd Carr yelling

Need some further help in deciphering the poll madness? The site POLLSPEAK attempts to rationalize some of the thinking by coaches, columnists and computers about who ranks where. They even nominate which casted ballots make the most sense & most nonsense.Such as voting Hawaii #1.