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Fourth and Long

With my schedule being what it is I get a large amount of my sports news via sports talk radio. I have not only come to love it, but I have found that without the distraction of the same replay being shown 14 times there is plenty of time for hosts to offer analysis and passionately debate various topics.

One of the topics this week was USC Head Coach Lane Kiffin’s decision to no longer take part in USA Today’s coach’s poll. Controversy tends to follow Kiffin around and this week was no exception. Before removing himself from the coaches poll Kiffin did cast the first vote.

In what can only be described as a dumb move, Kiffin supposedly told reporters that he would not vote his own school number one. Kiffin being a man of his word with a reputation to protect voted USC number one in the nation.

It seems Kiffin may have lied to a reporter or two… shocker I know! The truth is I don’t blame Kiffin for voting his own team number one. Clearly he, like any other coach has a conflict of interest. I do think he made a bone headed move if he told someone that he wouldn’t place his team atop the poll, but I don’t find fault in his decision to publicly announce to the world that he thinks he has the best team in college football.

His vote demonstrates confidence and displays a swagger that has been as much a part of the USC football program as National Championships, Will Ferrell and stuffed envelopes. If I were him I would have voted exactly the same way.

What I don’t understand is why there are coach’s polls. Even more disturbing to me is that two of them, the Associated Press (AP) and ESPN-USA Today’s Coaches Poll actually impact the BCS.

Coach’s polls are a joke and are a bigger obstacle between the BCS and a fair college football ranking than the lack of a playoff. There are several reasons for this.

First and foremost, as I mentioned above, coaches have a clear conflict of interest. If you are Nick Saban at Alabama and you vote your team number one in the country then you have probably done nothing wrong because there is a good chance you do have the number one team in the country.

If you are Urban Meyer at Ohio State, however, and you vote your team number one in the country then you probably chose to take advantage of every opportunity available to you in an effort to help your team finish the season as highly ranked as possible.

If you are hired to be the Buckeye’s football coach you can bet your booty they expect you to compete for National Championships and could care less about your willingness to maintain the integrity of the coach’s poll. If voting your team number one helps your chances of being selected for a BCS game at the end of the season even a little bit then you have to do it in my opinion.

My other huge issue with any coaches poll being part of the BCS equation is that coaches MAY know who the best team in the country is, but no coach worth a durn can give an educated opinion on the 4th best team.

College football coaches are busy people and on Saturdays when college football is on television they are busy working. I doubt Wake Forest Head Coach Jim Grobe watches Georgia and Stanford play a lot. How could he possibly be expected to rank one over another? Grobe is far too focused on his team and their next opponent to concern himself with Michigan’s secondary or Oregon’s tight end play.

While these men clearly know their football they may are the least qualified football experts on the planet in regards to national rankings.

The BCS has a lot of issues, but this one seems like an easy and obvious fix. It begs the question…why hasn’t it been fixed yet? The NCAA must be involved.

 

David Friedman is a long-time contributor to Roanoke-Chowan Publications. A Bertie High School graduate, he and his wife currently reside in Wilmington. David can be reached via e-mail at dave@gate811.net.