SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel shares his commentary, analysis and random tidbits on the latest developments around the country.
12/05/2006 12:45:00 AM
Inside the Coaches' Poll
Nobody had a more interesting ballot than Florida Atlantic coach Howard Schnellenberger.
Denny Medley/US PRESSWIRE
For the second straight year, USA Today released the final regular-season ballots of all 62 coaches (not including Jim Tressel) who vote in its Top 25 poll. And wouldn’t you know it, the people who made the color pie chart famous crafted this nifty online graphic that allows you to scroll over every team and instantly see which coaches deviated most from the masses.
The first thing that stands out: Out of the 18 coaches who voted for their own team, 15 ranked them higher than the general poll did. The biggest deviations: Houston’s Art Briles (19th on his ballot, unranked overall), Rutgers’ Greg Schiano (10th vs. 17th), West Virginia’s Rich Rodriguez (7th vs. 12th), Tennessee’s Phillip Fulmer (13th vs. 18th) and Oregon State’s Mike Riley (20th vs. 25th). Nebraska’s Bill Callahan, who on Monday apologized to Huskers fans for his coaching job in the Big 12 title game, was the lone coach to rank his team lower (23rd) than the masses (22nd).
In terms of the Florida-Michigan debate, both teams received only second- and third-place votes (unlike the Harris Poll, where the Gators received one first-place vote and two fifth-place votes, the Wolverines four fourth-place votes). Not surprisingly, conference loyalty was strong – all SEC coaches on the panel voted Florida No. 2, while four of five Big Ten coaches (again, not including Tressel) tabbed Michigan. The one exception: Former Gators coach Ron Zook, who recruited much of the current Florida team.
Also in Michigan’s corner: Former Lloyd Carr assistant Brady Hoke of Ball State and two coaches whose teams faced the Wolverines -- Charlie Weis (Notre Dame) and Brian Kelly (Central Michigan). Similarly, Florida State’s Bobby Bowden and Southern Miss’ Jeff Bower went with Florida. Interestingly, UCF’s George O’Leary, whose team lost to Florida 42-0 on Sept. 9, voted for Michigan.
Without question, the biggest contrarian in the poll was Florida Atlantic’s Howard Schnellenberger, who is apparently much less impressed with 10-2 LSU (15th) and 11-2 Oklahoma (18th) than most of his peers. He’s higher on Notre Dame (eighth), Rutgers (10th) and Wake Forest (12th).
Wisconsin (11-1), No. 5 in the general poll, fell between fourth and seventh on all but six ballots, but failed the crack the top 10 for either O’Leary or South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier. Both had the Badgers 11th. Following its loss to UCLA, USC remained as high as fourth on seven ballots -- including those of Bobby Bowden and Tyrone Willingham -- while dropping as low as 12th on Joe Tiller’s list.
I could go on and on, but you should really peruse the thing yourself. One last note of interest, though: The highest vote for BYU came from Texas Tech’s Mike Leach (No. 15). This shouldn’t be too surprising -- Leach based his vaunted Air Raid offense on LaVell Edwards’ classic BYU teams and his former assistant, Robert Anae, is the Cougars’ current offensive coordinator.
Most of the results do not surprise me. I think that to some extent, regional voting trends in the AP would be similar with voters in the mid-west voting for Michigan while those in the south going for Florida. The variety of votes are not surprising also. In my personal poll, though it obviously counts for absolutely nothing, my rankings tend to very. I have
Ohio State #1, Florida #2, LSU, #3, Louisville #4 and Michigan #5.
Wow. That is an amazing graphic. I can't believe ANYONE would think that Arkansas was the 20th best team, as Larry Blakeney did, or that anyone really thought Virgina Tech was the 7th best team, as Mike Leach did. This screams that we need a new way to pick the teams.
Amidst all of the ranting about the top of the polls, one example from lower in the poll shines above the others to show how ridiculous it is to let human votes influence team recognition for college football: Texas and Texas A&M play in the same conference and ended the year with the same overall record. They played each other in the final game of the season and A&M won 12-7. But somehow college coaches voted the Longhorns 5 places higher. As long as they can't even use actual games played to help determine their votes, they shouldn't be complaining about where the poll system determines they play their bowls.
There are a number of smaller subtleties as well. Consider Spurrier, he voted his former Def. Cord. Bob Stoops at #4. OU is very good and not unreasonable, it is just not surprising that coaches reward/jam other teams for various reasons.
Why do only 63 coaches vote. Shouldn't every Division I coach have a vote? Obviously, they are going to vote for their own conference teams. That way they get the bigger share of the bowl money. It will also keep a team like Boise St. from ever playing for a national championship. Time to change the system folks.
its great how they post the results so it gives us a chance to realize how much of an idiot schnellenberger is. who gets to vote on the coaches poll by the way, is it seniority or rotating? i have no problem with coaches voting higher for their own conference. after all, they played the team and they know those teams as opposed to just watching highlights of the other conferences games.
Indiana's Terry Hoeppner put Wisconsin at #9 despite their #5 ranking. Coach Hoeppner was one of the feel-good stories of the season, but what the heck? Apparently he wasn't impressed when the Badgers defeated his Hoosiers 52-17 in Bloomington, rolling up 539 yards in the process?
Whoa, I'm sure the coaches are doing a better job now that this is public. Some of these selections show how poorly the coaches rank different teams. There is also a lot of regional politics. Again, another example of the players and coaches need to decide the true National Champion on the field. Can you image the story an eight or 16 team playoff would generate? Another interesting observation is Auburn beat both Florida and LSU and they are ranked really low.