When both UPI and the AP are confronted with an outrageous ballot, they may note it or question it, but they will never change it, although Wick Temple says he reserves the right to throw it out. Last season eyebrows were raised when, after the first week of the season, a pollster in Boston voted a team No. 1 that hadn't been in the preseason Top 20. Seems he had just seen that team crush a local college 44-0. Voters are often overly impressed by what they have seen in person. But the AP let the vote stand, and thus the man in Boston became the first of many who put Texas at the top of the list.
In last year's final poll, the AP did question the voter who selected North Dakota as the best team in the country. In this case, the voter had scratched ND on his ballot, and someone along the line had decided that ND did not necessarily stand for Notre Dame.
Do SIDs politic? Sure. Virtually every AP voter has received mail inquiring as to his health and thanking him for his support of, well, Alabama. Charley Thornton, who is technically an assistant athletic director, canvasses the entire country asking that the Crimson Tide be remembered when it comes time to vote. Bob Pastin, a former sports editor of The Bellingham (Wash.) Herald, says, "Thornton wrote and thanked me for supporting Alabama in the polls after the season ended. All that was supposed to do was make me think about Alabama when the polls roll around this year. There's no way he's going to write a newspaper way up here in Bellingham if he didn't have that in mind."
From time to time someone suggests that college football could put an end to all this by staging a national championship playoff along the lines of basketball's. But even if such a playoff were limited to eight teams—the winners of the five major conferences plus three at-large teams—it would require three additional games, and thus three additional weeks, for the finalists, making for a 14-game season. And some solution would have to be worked out to accommodate the bowls.
Perhaps all this will take place someday, but for the moment we are stuck with the polls, for better or worse. As LaVell Edwards of Brigham Young says, "You have to put them in perspective. They are not foolproof, not the last word."