DESTIN, Fla. -- Bobby Johnson is a good man, an honest man, a heck of a football coach.
With all due respect, he didn't know what he was talking about Wednesday after the American Football Coaches Association decided its coaches poll would go gack to the dark ages. Starting in 2010, the AFCA will no longer reveal the final ballots of its voting coaches. It had done so the past four years bringing some credibility to a borderline corrupt poll.
Johnson, the Vanderbilt coach, is a member of the AFCA board of trustees who approved -- unanimously we are told -- the switch.
It's pretty simple: The coaches might know football, but they don't know polls. They especially don't know how to choose their consultants. The AFCA followed the recommendations of the Gallup World Poll which was called in to examine the coaches poll. Gallup takes its name from George Gallup who in 1948 was part of one of the biggest polling goofs in history. Remember "Dewey Beats Truman"? Part of the blame goes to Gallup whose organization stopped polling a month before the election.
Darn that Truman and his barn-storming tour that turned the tide in the final weeks.
"You can still make mistakes on a call," said Dr. Bob Tortura of Gallup who worked with the AFCA on the project. "That was a low point in Dr. Gallup's career, I can assure you."
So why is anyone supposed to rely on the Gallup World Poll for something as complicated and controversial as the coaches poll? That's a miscalculation that's hard to live down even 61 years later. The organization advertises itself as being "a must read for audiences that need the most accurate and up-to-date information."
Just like the coaches poll, we'll have to trust Gallup on that.
It is assumed that Johnson knew none of this when a few of us approached him here Wednesday at the SEC spring meetings.
"I can't tell you the rationale," Johnson said. "They (Gallup) do a great, I think, (job) of enlisting the top experts in the land about this situation."
Hopefully, one of them wasn't South Carolina's Steve Spurrier, one of five SEC coaches in attendance who voted in the poll last season.
"That was surprising," Spurrier said of the AFCA's announcement. "I thought we would stay public on that last vote. I sort of think we ought to stay public, keep everybody honest."
Georgia's Mark Richt, another SEC voter in the poll, agreed.
"I didn't mind opening up my vote," Richt said. "I try to make it make sense. I want to be able to defend (it) every week whether it's public or not."
One of the ideas being tossed around was actually hiding the identity of all the voters. Talk about a Star Chamber. After the past four seasons, each of the 60 or so voters (there were 61 last season) released their final ballots. That was a small concession to a system that rewards its participants with millions of dollars. Those dollars actually controlled by the participants.
Example: Coaches will still be allowed to vote for themselves.
Am I the only one outraged by this? Apparently not.
"Now," Spurrier said, "There's a chance for real hanky panky."
Where's the incentive, now, for coaches to fill out their own ballots? This isn't a poll, it's a secret society that prints money.
For the past four years, the system has worked. At least it worked better, if not completely. There was transparency, accountability. The coaches' final regular-season ballots were published in USA Today. With Wednesday's announcement, they're going backward.
The best method is to release each and every ballot every week. If the coaches don't like it, don't participate. If the thin-skinned coaches who vote can't stand a little scrutiny then that's tough. Give me $3 million a year, I'll give you my vote, my car keys and my credit card number and my underwear size.
Let's recap: This is a system that forces it coaches to vote No. 1 the winner of the BCS championship game. The AFCA essentially is legitimizing itself. The BCS would still "work" if coaches were allowed a free will after the title game.
If the Congressmen and attorney generals want some BCS source to sue, they ought to go after the AFCA. Its poll kept Utah from winning a national championship. At least the AP media voters can vote their conscience. If you recall, the AP voters thought so much of the undefeated Utes that they voted them No. 2 in the final poll.
AFCA and USA Today officials swear it has cross checks in place to keep a coach from abusing his ballot. Since we'll never see them -- just like 1948 -- we'll have to take their word for it.
A final head scratcher: The 16 board of trustees who voted to change the Division I-A poll aren't all from Division I-A. In fact, the coaches poll that makes up one-third of the BCS formula has been altered by two Division II coaches, two Division III coaches, one NAIA coach and 11 I-A coaches.
I'm sure glad the NAIA has weighed in.
Get ready for some real hanky panky. Trust me.