I've been fighting it, but no more. From this day forward, based on the way they handle their business, I will give college football coaches every bit of respect that they deserve.
Which is to say ...
|The Ducks pushed Cal around last weekend but they aren't on top of the Bears in the coaches poll. (US Presswire)|
Prove it. Prove to me that he's smarter than a squirrel. Based on this week's Top 25, he's not -- and I've seen some stupid squirrels. Ran over one just the other day. Silly thing wouldn't get out of my way.
Now it's the coaches. They can't get out of their own way. They want to be taken seriously, I suppose, as leaders or BCS contributors or as people who give more to society than the spread option and those polyester shorts some of them still wear. But how do you take a college football coach seriously when he ranked California six spots ahead of Oregon in this week's Top 25?
Oregon and Cal played five days ago, and Oregon won -- 42-3.
And this week, Cal is ranked No. 19. Oregon is 25th. Imagine if Cal had scored late to get within 42-10 -- the Ducks probably wouldn't be ranked at all.
It would be nice if that indefensible poll placement were an isolated event, but it also would be nice if the Kardashian sisters would please leave my sports news the hell alone. Sometimes, alas, bad things happen.
Things like Ole Miss being ranked 18th this week in the coaches poll ... and South Carolina being unranked. The two teams played last Thursday night, with no other game on television. South Carolina won 16-10, and while South Carolina looked pretty good, Ole Miss looked dreadful. And still, on their next chance to cast a vote, coaches voted for Ole Miss ahead of South Carolina. The Gamecocks received enough votes to be ranked 29th, if the poll were extended that far. Which means Ole Miss should be no better than 30th.
It happened four times this week, OK?
There was Cal-Oregon. And Ole Miss-South Carolina.
There was also Penn State-Iowa, with Iowa not just beating Penn State but winning at Penn State ... and then being rewarded in the coaches poll with the No. 17 ranking.
Four spots behind No. 13 Penn State.
And these ranking screw-ups can't be explained away. This wasn't Washington beating Southern California. As wonderful as that win was for Washington, it was a fluke and voters reacted as such, knowing that each school's body of work mandated USC be ranked ahead of the Huskies. No, that wasn't the case in any of those examples. Oregon is 3-1 with a loss only to No. 5 Boise State; Cal also is 3-1, with the loss a blowout to the Ducks. South Carolina is 3-1, with a loss only to No. 14 Georgia; Ole Miss is 2-1, with the loss to the Gamecocks. And Iowa is undefeated, while Penn State has that home loss to Iowa.
Those rankings cannot be defended. And for it to happen three times in a week, with a fourth instance piggybacked from earlier in the season -- Houston is undefeated with a win against Oklahoma State, but OSU is 12th and Houston is 15th -- is concrete proof that coaches don't have any idea what's happening in college football outside of their own campus.
But we knew that. Coaches polls have always been a joke, with South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier contributing a laugh track. He's the guy who always gives Duke a Top 25 vote in the preseason poll simply because he likes his former employer, and he's also the guy who let one of his staff flunkies pick South Carolina's ballot for the preseason SEC team -- a ballot that left 2007 Heisman winner Tim Tebow of Florida off the first team.
Coaches are infamous for that stuff. They give their votes to a grad assistant or a publicist, because they're too busy saving the world and watching film of the other team so they can decipher that the other team's all-conference running back is good at breaking arm tackles. Don't try that film breakdown at home.
Do you think I'm being disrespectful of the average football coach's voting ethic, if not his intellect? Good. You're paying attention. Which means you would be a better voter than the typical coach.
You'd also be better than the goobers in the Harris Interactive poll, most of whom are former players or assistant coaches or radio homers. The Harris poll is poor and unoriginal, plagiarizing the coaches poll of all things. And since both polls are used in the BCS rankings, that means the incompetent coaches poll is basically given a double weighting. This week's Harris poll, for example, has Penn State ahead of Iowa, Ole Miss ahead of South Carolina and Cal ahead of Oregon. Where do you think Harris voters got those ideas? From the coaches poll, of course.
Meanwhile, one poll gets it (mostly) right. The AP poll has Iowa ahead of Penn State. Houston ahead of Oklahoma State. Oregon ahead of Cal.
Not to say that media members are smart. We're not.
We're just not as stupid as coaches.