Big 12 coaches vote TCU over Baylor, plus more final 2014 Coaches Poll shenanigans
Coaches Poll? More like Coaches LOL!
The Coaches Poll has long been a place for tomfoolery and score-settling. When the poll decided part of the national championship, that meant such things as three coaches* dropping an undefeated Michigan out of the top two in order to get Tom Osborne a share of the title.
During the BCS era, that could be a problem, as the poll was one of the formula’s three factors. But now that the championship is decided by the College Football Playoff, the poll has far less meaning. That has hardly stopped coaches from gaming the system. Here’s a look at the final ballots.
* And of course “coaches” usually means the athletic department employees who handle voting in the coach’s name.
The Big 12′s Family Feud extends to polls
The biggest story of Playoff Selection Sunday was the split in the Big 12 between co-champions TCU and Baylor and whether one would rank No. 4. The Bears ended up No. 5 over TCU.
That divide continued into the Coaches Poll. Baylor coach Art Briles put his team No. 3, two spots ahead of TCU. Gary Patterson, coach of the Horned Frogs, did the opposite, putting his team two spots ahead of Baylor. That was expected.
What was not expected was everyone else from the Big 12 siding with Patterson. Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy made TCU his No. 1, with Baylor No. 3. Both Bob Stoops and Charlie Strong put TCU two spots ahead of Baylor as well.
Briles was the only Big 12 coach to put Baylor ahead of TCU, despite the fact Baylor had beaten the Horned Frogs. No other coach put the Bears within one position of TCU.
Never leave FSU
Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher has No. 13 Georgia unranked. That’s the highest-ranked omission on any coach’s ballot.
It might be worth noting Georgia took his defensive coordinator before this season began.
Virginia Tech’s ballot makes about as much sense as its offense
Did you play Virginia Tech this year? Then Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer wants you to have a high ranking!
He placed Ohio State No. 2, ahead of Alabama and Oregon, rewarding the Buckeyes for handing him a potentially career-saving September win in Columbus (the only coach to place Alabama lower than third was Briles, who couldn’t find room in the top 3 with his own team crashing the party). No other coach had OSU that high.
Duke, which beat the Hokies, is No. 15 according to Beamer; the Blue Devils went unranked by 49 voters and placed in the bottom five spots by 11 more.
Bret Bielema leaves bad reviews
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema, known as a proponent of karma, hammered his former employers.
He ranked Wisconsin No. 21, four spots lower than their final placement and lower than all but three voters. But the Head Hog saved his ammo for an unlikely target: Kansas State, where he had previously served as defensive coordinator in the early 2000s. Bielema dropped the Wildcats to No. 18, eight places lower than K-State ended up.
Bert had to even out that karma, so perhaps he repaid Nebraska for including him in coaching change rumors by moving the Cornhuskers to No. 16, six places above their final placement. He also ranked Georgia Tech 10 spots lower than its No. 9 ranking, and your guess is as good as ours as to what’s going on there.
Profiles in homerism
There was plenty of that Coaches Poll staple: blatant homerism.
Air Force coach Troy Calhoun ranked his team No. 22, ahead of all three teams that had beaten the Falcons this season and two of the three teams that finished ahead of them in the Mountain West standings. Northern Illinois coach Rod Carey ranked his unranked MAC champions No. 20, ahead of fellow non-powers Boise State and Marshall. Memphis coach Justin Fuente was not the only coach to vote for his Tigers, but he placed them No. 22. George O’Leary voted Central Florida No. 21, when only three other voters found them worthy of a vote.
The preferential treatment was not limited to the mid-majors. Steve Sarkisian placed his unranked USC Trojans No. 19 on his final ballot. That was one spot ahead of Utah, which beat the Trojans October 25.
Colorado’s Mike MacIntyre could not bring himself to vote for his Buffaloes, but he went geographic with his favoritism. The state’s two other FBS programs, Air Force and Colorado State, got the two final spots on his ballot.