As deferential as Tony Barnhart can be on many issues, he’s always been credibly consistent with his criticism of the flaws in the Coaches Poll. (If you’re a longtime reader here, no doubt you’ll remember an old Barnhart column on the subject served as the inspiration for the Mumme Poll.)
So it’s no surprise that he bats down David Cutcliffe’s suggestion that the coaches continue to have a say in the composition of the postseason field. Nor is it a surprise that he mines the last Coaches Poll for another blatant example of a conflict of interest.
Remember that at the end of last season Northern Illinois (12-1), the MAC champ, needed to finish No. 16 or better in the final BCS Standings to earn an at-large spot, probably in the Orange Bowl. If Northern Illinois finished No. 17, then it was all but certain that No. 11 Oklahoma (10-2) would get that Orange Bowl bid as an at-large team. So every single vote counted.
An analysis of the final vote in the Coaches poll (the only one that is made public) by Steve Berkowitz of USA Today, revealed that four Big 12 coaches (Oklahoma is a member of the Big 12), including Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, either voted the Sooners No. 6 or Northern Illinois No. 24. Stoops did both.
Maybe I need to rename the MP.
Of course Barnhart can’t resist pulling a punch or two. After reciting the usual trinity of why the Coaches Poll as it’s now configured is problematic – bias, conflicts of interest and lack of time to research the field thoroughly – plus a bonus pot shot at Junior, he thinks there should still be a place in the room for Big Game Bob’s, um, perspective.
The coaches will continue to do their poll. I like the idea of not releasing the first poll until mid-October. But that poll, and no other human polls, will be in the room with the selection committee.
I’ve already suggested putting Grant Teaff, the executive director of the AFCA, on the selection committee to represent the coaches. Teaff would get input from his coaches and meet with his board of directors before the selection process and then serve as their voice in the room.
I’m not really sure what that accomplishes. If there’s a poll, warts and all, the committee would be able to see it without the need for Teaff’s presence. All that’s likely to occur with him being in the room is that the coaches lobby Teaff and Teaff in turn lobbies the committee. Is there any reason to think that, behind closed doors, he would serve as an effective filter of the bias and conflicts that corrupt the poll? Given that Teaff has long fought making the Coaches Poll more transparent, I’m skeptical.
If the coaches want to make a credible pitch to be included in the discussion, they need to clean their poll up first.