Coaches' final vote is public

Posted: Friday, May 27, 2005

California coach Jeff Tedford got what he wanted: From now on, balloting in the final regular-season coaches poll will be made public.

Grant Teaff, executive director of the American Football Coaches Association, said Thursday the decision was best for the game. The change comes after a public outcry last season, when the Golden Bears lost a shot at a Bowl Championship Series game, in part because they got dropped in the final coaches poll.

Tedford and Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen have said voting should be made public. Tedford was on vacation Thursday and unavailable for comment.

Though most coaches didn't want to release the votes because of the scrutiny it would bring, Teaff said they decided to vote for the change to quell any ''uncalled-for controversy.''

''Our coaches were under no obligation to do this,'' said Teaff, a former coach at Baylor. ''The good news is that somebody out there thinks that transparenacy is good for the system, and our coaches said, 'OK we hear you and we're going to join in and do our part.'''

Teaff added there are no circumstances in which the group would allow their in-season voting to be made public.

The coaches poll helps determine the teams that will play in the BCS championship game.

''The in-season polls are just a barometer,'' Teaff said. ''The final poll that determines the two teams that play in the national championship seems to be the one everyone wants to know about.''

Kevin Weiberg, the Big 12 Conference commissioner and BCS coordinator, has said voting by coaches has taken on greater importance since The Associated Press asked to have its poll removed from the formula used to determine BCS matchups.

However, Teaff said that viewpoint had no effect on the coaches' decision. He said the group discussed the issue at its meeting in January and then voted in a survey sent out in late February.

Last season, California finished fourth in the coaches poll, but six coaches inexplicably dropped them below No. 6 on the final ballots — four at No. 7 and two in the eighth slot.

In the previous week's poll, nobody picked Cal lower than sixth. The vote came after Cal's 26-16 win at Southern Mississippi on Saturday night — a close game, but a tough road contest that wasn't in doubt in the final minutes.

The BCS drop caused Cal to miss out on the school's first Rose Bowl in 45 years. The Golden Bears got a meeting with Texas Tech in the Holiday Bowl instead, while Texas got into the Rose Bowl.

Texas coach Mack Brown initially was against making the coaches' votes public, but said Thursday he will continue to participate next season if asked. He said it's appropriate that just the final regular-season votes are released.

''I've always been a firm believer that the polls start too early in the season and that we shouldn't be voting on a Top 25 before October,'' Brown said. ''By then, we have more information to work with in determining who the best teams are.''

In December, Tedford said, ''One of the worst things that could happen is the votes being kept secret. If we had it to do all over again, I would hope that we'd make them public.''

Auburn also got left out of the championship game despite finishing undefeated. The Tigers finished No. 3 in both polls, and settled for the Sugar Bowl while Oklahoma and Southern California — both undefeated — played for the national championship in the Orange Bowl.

The BCS has announced it will establish a replacement for the AP poll, which started in 1936 and is the longest-running poll in college football. The AP poll makes its votes public.

Previously, the AP and coaches' polls each counted for one-third of the BCS formula, with computer rankings accounting for the final third. BCS officials want another human poll to keep that formula intact.

Teaff said the coaches have unanimously supported the concept of a championship game because they do not want to go back to the old system where there was a ''so-called mythical championship, which did not have the two best teams playing.''

The BCS, which includes the Fiesta, Rose, Orange and Sugar Bowls, will expand to five games and 10 teams starting with the 2006 season. The No. 1 vs. No. 2 BCS title game will be played a week after the bowls and rotate between the four existing sites.

A total of 62 coaches vote in the USA Today/ESPN poll.

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