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Official Husker Locker Blog

2009 May 29

In Defense of a Silent Coaches Poll


By HuskerLocker

(Above: Coaches like Steve Spurrier can go back to being their most political in TV interviews)

So the coaches poll is going back to being a secret.

The American Football Coaches Association, which supplies the coaches for the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll, announced late Wednesday that in 2010, five years after making the final vote in the poll public for all the nation to see, it will keep all coaches votes secret.

Since the coaches poll makes up a full one/third of the Bowl Championship Series standings, that has most pundits wondering about the veracity and validity of the BCS standings even more than, well, they already worry about it.

The AFCA claims the coaches will now have more freedom to vote as they wish. The cynic says coaches can now dump rival teams, or non-BCS conference teams, outside of the top 25 without fear of reprisal.

To which we say: What reprisal? We must have missed the severe media lashing given to any coach in the last four years for their votes. And it’s not like all of the votes were particularly good ones. In fact, the final public votes smacked of being just political and just rational enough to reasonably defend against criticism. That’s not an honest vote. That’s watching the back of your conference brothers while they watch yours.

Remember: nothing motivates human behavior so much as the fear of confrontation. And if your fellow conference coaches are whom you see the most, just whom do you think is getting best taken care of in those polls? The real reprisal is from the league and its coaches. Not the media. And the league has no business leaning in the smallest way on athletic directors, coaches or university presidents. Too much is controlled by conferences now. Not this too.

No. We at Husker Locker take the opposite stance of most of those in the media, and side with the AFCA, and Gallup, which conducted the initial efficiency study. Privacy, in this case, leads to a better poll.

But it may lead to a different poll being used in the BCS, which didn’t an additional media headache after the barrage of criticism received in the last several weeks of Congressional hearings.

As we have said before: If we must use a poll in the BCS – and we’re not that sure it’s necessary – at least appoint a panel of committed viewers – not beat writers of specific teams, and not coaches – to watch games on a weekly basis. Then allow them four days after the games have been played to submit their rankings, so that they’ve actually digested the games, analyzed them and compared them to other games.
There is absolutely no reason why the BCS poll is required to come out on Monday, considering that the timing of it has virtually no effect on the result other than compatibility with the news cycle. If the BCS would simply sacrifice an easy Monday story for more informed voting processes, we may see a better, smarter poll.

Just our two cents.

Tags: bowl championship series

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