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The Voters Have Spoken



Photo Attribution: KT King

One of the most intriguing, or possibly most vitriolic, days of the college football season has arrived: the day that we all find out how the 174 coaches and Harris poll voters cast their respective ballots.

By most accounts, by most rational accounts, you should have LSU at #1 (if you don’t, your vote should be revoked) and then some combination of Alabama and Oklahoma State at #2 and #3.

I suppose Stanford has an argument at #3 considering they had the second “best loss” in their 53-30 beating by the Ducks. But when you have the 36th toughest schedule in the country (OSU at #6, according to Sagarin) and you have beaten exactly zero teams in the BCS top 25, I mean, that’s not much of a leg to stand on, is it?

And yet five coaches had the Cowboys at #4, behind the #3 Cardinal, and one had OSU at #5 (!) behind Oregon AND Stanford. Two of the six coaches had a legitimate reason for punishing OSU (Nick Saban and David Shaw), one played Stanford (David Cutcliffe – Duke), one is just pissed at the entire Big 12 and might still be drunk (too soon?) (Gary Pinkel), one is inexplicable (Doug Marronne – Syracuse), and one is inexcusable (Troy Calhoun – Air Force).

Amazingly, the Harris poll voters were even more incompetent. Nine of them had OSU at #4, four of them had OSU at #5, and three others had OSU at #6. Had those 14 nincompoops put OSU at least where they deserved to be (at #3) the Cowboys still would have fallen shy of the BCS points (by .004 instead of .009) they needed to play for the title, but things would have at least been a lot more interesting.

As I wrote yesterday, I expected people to have the Pokes above #3 because of how the points shook out, but to have them at #5 or #6 is embarrassing. One of the Harris poll voters who had them at #6 had Houston ahead of them and the other two had both Boise St. and Oregon, and another guy had Wisconsin ahead of the Cowboys.

Note: I’d be significantly more upset had OSU gotten the fourth computer vote they needed because then these 14 Harris poll voters would have meant the difference between playing for the title and playing in the Fiesta.

The entire process, however, brings to light what a biased, broken system we’re operating in. The coaches who vote in these polls, as someone on Twitter pointed out, have a vested interest in where they finish for two reasons:

1. Your school gets more money if a team from your conference is playing for the national title than they would if a team from your conference was just playing in a BCS game. This is why every coach from the Big 12 voted OSU #2, except Pinkel because he’s just angry, and every coach from the SEC voted Bama #2. Because the money from bowls is split ten ways in the Big 12, it behooves Bob Stoops to vote for OSU #2 in hopes that they get a cut of the $20M+ title game payout rather than the $18M (or whatever it is this year) Fiesta Bowl payout.

2. Various coaches have contractual ties to where they finish in the BCS. For example, Bob Stoops gets a $25,000 bonus if OU finishes in the BCS top 5 in a given year. So having coaches vote for the postseason is like putting presidential candidates in charge of the electoral college.

The entire thing is ludicrous, and simply one more reason we have to have a college football playoff.

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