Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Coaching and voting don't mix

During an interview Sunday with ESPN, Alabama football coach Nick Saban was asked if he thought Crimson Tide running back Mark Ingram should win the Heisman Trophy. During his response, Saban said he couldn't comment on the other top candidates other than Florida quarterback Tim Tebow because "I don't see those guys if they aren't on Alabama's schedule."

Which makes you wonder, if college football coaches are too busy to watch teams they don't play, then why does is there a Coaches Top 25 poll that is sponsored by USA Today? We've known for years that most coaches don't even fill out their ballots -- they let the sports information director vote. But, c'mon ... where's the credibility with this poll?

The final regular-season ballots of the 59 coaches who vote in the USA Today poll were made public this week and there were some interesting rankings. For example:

- Missouri's Gary Pinkle put undefeated Boise State at No. 9, behind two-loss Penn State, two-loss Oregon (which lost to Boise State) and two-loss Ohio State. Coaches can rank their own teams and Pinkle, by the way, was one of the biggest abusers, voting his team 14 spots higher than it finished in the poll. North Carolina's Butch Davis also ranked his team 14 spots higher.

- Houston's Kevin Sumlin, whose team lost to East Carolina in the Conference USA championship game, ranked the Cougars one spot ahead of the Pirates.

- Florida State's Bobby Bowden was the only coach not to rank Pitt. Indiana's Bill Lynch and South Florida's Jim Leavitt each had Pitt ranked the highest at No. 12.

- TCU's Gary Patterson ranked his team No. 2 behind Alabama. Five other coaches had TCU at No. 2. Each of the five are from non-BCS schools. Patterson had undefeated Cincinnati ranked No. 6.

- West Virginia was left off the ballot of four voters: Sumlin, North Texas' Todd Dodge, Mississippi State's Dan Mullen and Washington State's Paul Wulff. The Mountaineers, however, were ranked as high as No. 11 by recently fired Louisiana-Monore coach Charlie Weatherbie.

- Five coaches didn't vote Alabama No. 1. Idaho's Robb Akey, Minnesota's Tim Brewster, Michigan State's Mark Dantonio and Nebraska's Bo Pelini each voted Texas No. 1. Cincinnati's Brian Kelly voted in his team's best interest and gave Cincinnati its only first-place vote, followed by Alabama at No. 2 and Texas at No. 3.

- Pitt's Dave Wannstedt, West Virginia's Bill Stewart and Penn State's Joe Paterno do not vote in the coaches poll.

- Penn State received its lowest ranking (No. 13) from Eastern Michigan's Ron English. The Nittany Lions' highest marks (No. 8) came from Pinkle and Bowden.

- Two coaches voted Alabama No. 1 and Cincinnati No. 2 -- both from the Big East -- Leavitt and Rutgers' Greg Schiano.

- Even after Alabama whipped Florida 32-13 in the SEC Championship game, Air Force's Troy Calhoun voted for a rematch with Alabama at 1 and Florida at 2.

- Wulff ranked two-loss Oregon ahead of Cincinnati and undefeated Boise State.


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