College football: Why every coach should vote in the coaches' poll

COMMENTARY — There's plenty wrong with the BCS system, but one of the most fixable problems is the coaches' poll. Start letting every coach vote.
by Jenni Carlson Modified: December 14, 2011 at 6:03 pm •  Published: December 14, 2011
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Les Miles got a vote.

Ditto for Nick Saban and David Shaw.

But not Mike Gundy.

The Oklahoma State coach had his team in the hunt for a spot in the national championship game, just like those other coaches, but in the end, he had no say in the Cowboys' fate. Yet the head honchos from LSU, Alabama and Stanford did.

Kooky?

Yes.

Unfair?

Sure seems that way.

Fixable?

You're darn right it is.

Truth be told, the fix for this glitch in the BCS system is pretty simple — give every coach a vote in the coaches' poll.

Currently, every conference has half of its coaches voting. Why not allow every coach of a BCS-eligible team a vote? That would include coaches in all the automatic-qualifier conferences, from the ACC to the Pac-12, and coaches in all the non-automatic-qualifier conferences, from the MAC to the WAC.

Let them all have a say.

“First of all, they have to be willing to serve,” said Grant Teaff, the executive director of the American Football Coaches Association. “There are some that don't want to serve. They don't want the responsibility. They don't want the effort. They don't want the job.”

Teaff would know. His association oversees the random selection of coaches' poll voters every year — names are pulled out of a pot — and every year, at least a few coaches indicate they want no part in the process. Their names are left out.

Give every coach a vote, and some might refuse.

Let 'em.

The ones who they would be hurting most would be themselves. They would be ceding power to other coaches. And really, how many college football coaches strike you as men willing to cede power to someone else?

Here's guessing that less than 10 percent of the 120 coaches would turn down the chance to vote. Might be more like 5 percent.

No doubt this change would create a much bigger pool of voters. The coaches' poll would go from its current count of 59 votes to 100-plus. Thing is, the Harris Poll, the other human variable in the BCS system, has 114 voters. No reason that the coaches couldn't have that many voters, too.

The good news is, the coaches' poll has been willing to change over the years. The polling experts from Gallup came in a few years back and gave Teaff and the AFCA some pointers.

Round up to the next even number if a conference has an odd number of teams, then half that number to determine how many voters from that league.

Select the coaches who are going to vote randomly.

The football coaches took that advice and made those alterations.


by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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