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OSU football: Poll voters are determined by chance

BY GINA MIZELL Published: December 11, 2011

STILLWATER — Pick a name, any name. Or, how about five?

This simple scenario happened before the college football season. A group of papers were tossed into a pot, and five were drawn out at random.

On those papers were the names Art Briles, Gary Pinkel, Paul Rhoads, Bob Stoops and Tommy Tuberville.

Those five coaches became the voters in the USA Today Coaches' poll from the Big 12 Conference for the 2011 football season.

Since Oklahoma State lost out on the chance to play for the national championship by a minuscule margin — less than nine thousandths of a point — in the final Bowl Championship Series standings, the two human polls that each make up one-third of the system's formula have been analyzed and scrutinized.

Why didn't Cowboy coach Mike Gundy have a vote when Alabama's Nick Saban, LSU's Les Miles and Stanford's David Shaw did?

Why do polls voted on by coaches, who clearly do not have the time or ability to watch a full slate of college football games each week, play such a critical role in which teams play for the national championship?

To answer the first question, Grant Teaff, the executive director of the American Football Coaches Association, illustrated the scenario above and the sheer chance involved.

To answer the second question, Teaff said that as long as voters and polls are part of the BCS system, the coaches want a voice.

“Our coaches feel very strongly that if there is going to be a process (to determine who plays for the national championship), they want to be a part of it,” said Teaff, the former coach at Baylor.

“If something better comes along, then trust me, they'd be more than happy to relinquish our position as part of the selection process.”

So, how does it all work?

The coaches' poll, which has been around for more than 60 years, undergoes the same voter selection process each year.

First, being in the pool of potential voters is optional. Some coaches simply don't want the responsibility, Teaff said.

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