I decided to kill an hour last night by going back and retallying the 2007 final regular season coaches ballots on the basis of top five and top ten votes in order to see how my “fix” might have worked. I wasn’t expecting a big change in the final rankings – after all, I was still using Hal Mumme’s first place vote for Hawai’i – but I was curious to see how the mechanics played out. Would there be some massive tie for sixth place that would be problematic? And how many schools received top ten votes?
The tally was simple to organize. The schools were ranked on the basis of the number of top ten votes each received. The votes for the top five were only used to break a tie between schools which placed in the top five in the balloting, in order to make it more difficult for coaches like Mumme to game a tiebreaker for Hawai’i (i.e., a school unlikely to finish in the top five in the voting).
Before getting to the results, one noteworthy item: it’s apparent when you go through the coaches’ ballots that there were many agendas in play. If you feel like it, go through them (they’re linked from Barnhart’s post). You’ll be surprised, as I was, to see how often you can correctly guess the conference a coach is affiliated with based on the order of his ballot.
There were a couple of weird things, too. Ty Willingham abstained from voting, for some reason. And if anyone can explain Schnellenberger’s ballot, which looks like it was phoned in from Mars, I’d love to hear it.
Anyway, here are the final results based on approval voting (top five ballot votes in parentheses, in case of tie):
T1. Ohio State (59)
T1. LSU (59)
3. Oklahoma (51)
4. Georgia (40)
5. Virginia Tech
6. Southern California
9. West Virginia
12. Arizona State
T14. Boston College
T14. Boise State
As you can see, the final order didn’t change much. LSU moved into a first place tie, Florida changed places with Arizona State and Boise State rose eight slots.
The only ties, as you can see, were at the very top and the very bottom of the list. Only fifteen schools received votes in the top ten. Either the voting could be limited to those schools that got top ten votes, as above, or the voting could be expanded to the top twelve or fifteen schools to expand the number on the final list.
In any event, it doesn’t look like a train wreck to me. And given the amount of mischief that was apparent in the actual voting which would be significantly reduced with approval voting, it’s hard to see how this wouldn’t be a vast improvement from a credibility standpoint.