Blog Entry

Three Harris Poll voters rank Oklahoma St. No. 6

Posted on: December 5, 2011 3:13 pm
Edited on: December 5, 2011 3:31 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Throughout the 2011 season, our own Bryan Fischer has been skewering the vagaries and missteps of AP poll voters in his weekly Poll Attacks. And though it's sometimes said that the media poll no longer "counts," it's still the method by which half of college football's national championship, so, yeah: it counts.

However, since 2005 it does not count as part of the BCS standings. That job has, of course, been passed onto the Harris Poll, a body of 115 pollsters "comprised of former players, coaches, administrators and current and former members of the media who have committed to submit rankings for the top 25 college football teams each week." You can view the results of 2011's final Harris Poll here and looks at their individual ballots here (both links PDF).

And looking at those results and ballots ... yeesh. How many things are wrong with this picture? Let us count the ways:

1. Oklahoma State ranked sixth ... three times. We won't wade into the "Alabama vs. Oklahoma State" debate here, but at least we can agree -- when looking at the Cowboys' resume before they drubbed Oklahoma and claimed the outright title of the deepest league in the country this year -- that the Tide and Cowboys should have been No. 2 and No. 3 in some order, right?

Not if you ask former Iowa administrator George Wine, former Notre Dame wideout Derrick Mayes, former Hawaii coach Bob Wagnerwho each had the Cowboys sixth. Wine went with Houston, fresh off their 49-28 beatdown at the hands of Southern Miss, at No. 5; Mayes went with Mountain West runner-up Boise State fifth; and Wagner ranked Boise No. 4 and two-loss Oregon fifth. All together, 15 voters placed the Cowboys fourth or lower. (The good news, Cowboy fans? That didn't cost you the title game.)

2. Virginia Tech three spots ahead of Clemson. If the Hokies and Tigers had played a single close game, you could forgive voters for ignoring the head-to-head result, particularly this late in the season. But after Clemson's 38-10 slaughtering of Tech in the ACC championship game, the two teams played twice and both games were lopsided blowouts, one of them in Blacksburg. Yes, Clemson has one extra loss, but we'll attribute that to the Tigers playing a legitimate out-of-conference opponent like South Carolina as opposed to Appalachian State, Marshall, East Carolina and Arkansas State. 

So how do you wind up with the Hokies 11th and Clemson 14th? How do former SMU quarterback Lance McIlhenny and former Troy Trojan Eric Mizell place the Hokies 12 places ahead of Clemson? We don't know.

3. Rampant bias. It's not quite as much of a problem here as it is in the Coaches -- where giving coaches like Nick Saban a say in whether their own teams go to the national championship game (or sneak into the BCS at-large pool) is probably the single most preposterous thing about the entire BCS system -- but bias is an issue in the Harris, too. For instance, as pointed out by our Bruce Feldman, former SEC commissioner Roy Kramer crammed all five SEC teams in the poll into his top 11. 

4. Just plain silliness. Arkansas pounded South Carolina a few weeks back, remember, and they have the same record. So of course former Texas player Tony Jones has Arkansas 19th and Carolina 8th. Remember Georgia pummeling Auburn? The aforementioned Mr. Mayes has Aubun 18th and Georgia unranked. Michigan has the same number of losses as Wisconsin and finished second in its division while the Badgers won the league, so they clearly finish behind Wisky, right? No: three voters had it the other way round, with former Army player Bob Anderson having not just the Wolverines (at No. 13) ahead of the Big Ten champion Badgers (at No. 17), but the Michigan State team they just defeated. Oh, and all five SEC teams are in Anderson's top 9

Of course, the BCS's real problem isn't the Harris poll itself; no matter how you construct a poll like this one, there's going to be strongly-held biases and blatant stupidities. The issue is that using a poll like the Harris (or Coaches, or AP) ensures that -- when the margin for error in selecting a playoff that includes only two teams is so thin -- those biases and stupidities are magnified and multiplied. Push the playoff to four teams, and it won't matter if a few outliers put the Cowboys sixth; reward merit over (purported) fan support, and no one will care that Virginia Tech gets so much benefit-of-the-doubt.

We don't hate the Harris Poll, really. But we do hate that college football's system for selecting a champion has to resort to putting something like it to use.

Since: Aug 25, 2006
Posted on: December 6, 2011 6:04 pm

Three Harris Poll voters rank Oklahoma St. No. 6

Poor Boise St., et. al., have to leave their conferences in order to bolster BCS bowl hopes.  How un-American!  Annually, the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL have weak conferences / divisions, and those leagues still allow teams from seemingly sub-standard divisions to go to the playoffs.  Need a reminder?  Seattle was 7-9 and went to the playoffs, where they smacked Super Bowl champs New Orleans right in the mouth!  Of recent college vintage, a Boise St. team in the early 2000's smacked mightly OU in front of the whole world.

The fact that college football is dominated by "traditionalists" and "old school" types, speaks to a bias that will never allow newer teams or non-reputation conferences to ever aspire to BCS championship heights.  It's always Notre Dame, USC, OU, Ohio St., Mich., 'Bama, LSU, Texas, Penn St., Nebraska - teams that have large fan bases, decades of tradition, big money, TV clout, and name recognition, that always get the benefit of the doubt.  Anyone else gets screwed out of their chance to build & create tradition, legacy, and fandom.

The SEC consitutes a de facto monopoly if in fact other teams are not allowed to compete on a level "playing field" because of their perceived superiority.  Teams across the country should not be penalized because they do not play in the SEC.  It is hubris, a dictatorhsip born of fortunate geography and close minded old farts that yearn for Bud, Ara, Woody, Bear, & Bo.  In their minds, they still want to live like it's 1959, and have no consideration for new names and "new traditions".

The present powers that be want to maintain the status quo.  Thanks to antiquated, stick-it-down-your-throat thin
king, fans (like sheep), share the same yearnings of the old buzzards.  That ensures that the "brand name" teams still attract the big dollars (hello, Texas & The Longhorn Network!), while un-sexy stalwarts, like Texas A&M, have to seek their own fortune outside of their own state.

Caveat Emptor!  If there is no Teaxs A&M, there will soon be little left of Texas.

Hopefully, the old buzzards will die off soon - along with the BCS and the NCAA.  Like old traditions that suddenly become too powerful and too corrupt, they are only as good as their ability to serve the common good - and not themselves.  The true American ideal is that everyone who earns a chance, gets a chance at the brass ring.

Even the team from Podunk - who is capable of bringing down the team from Baton Rouge or Tuscaloosa on any given night.

Since: Nov 21, 2011
Posted on: December 6, 2011 4:03 pm

Three Harris Poll voters rank Oklahoma St. No. 6

Within the current system, the winner on Jan 9, 2012 is the BCS NC...that's it! The final AP Poll could read differently, but that isn't what was bought into... Either way, expect a good NC game between two beasts!

Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: December 6, 2011 3:00 pm

Three Harris Poll voters rank Oklahoma St. No. 6

guys - settle down!

If Bama beats LSU, then they are the Champs; end of story.

Just like if Ok State had another shot at Iowa St they would have beaten them also and that 1st game wouldn't have meant anything either.   And they would be in the NC Game.

But we know that only the SEC gets 2nd shots; like two loss LSU in 2008, Alabama 2011...

Since: Dec 6, 2011
Posted on: December 6, 2011 2:54 pm

Three Harris Poll voters rank Oklahoma St. No. 6

  As you can tell by the name,I'm an LSU fan and an old one at that. If I had my choice I wish we could play Okla.St. We have played Bama on thier home field and won,nothing more to be said. I don't know if a lot of younger posters on here think this is new,it isn't. It was then as it is now,Show me the money. In the days of yore the bowls picked the teams and the only thing considered was how many out of town fans would a team bring. I can remember LSU being passed over by the Sugar Bowl because people would come to game on gameday and go home after game,no money there! I think it is time for a little tweaking. I am not a fan of rematches. What does it prove? If the other team wins, it is still one win each. I know we won the right to be there! Not so sure about Bama.

Since: Nov 26, 2011
Posted on: December 6, 2011 2:50 pm

Three Harris Poll voters rank Oklahoma St. No. 6

the ONLY truth remains; NCAA football and its BCS are a total  sham and have been for years...the Cowboys have been ripped off so bigtime!  alabama will beat LSU, Cowboys will beat stanford andw e still gonna need a Bama/Cowboys title game!  either way you shake this, its wrong..lsu wins and is considered champs? they still didn't play okla. state!...oh yeah, its totally effed up, college football is totally effed up...or should i say the NCAA brass are effed up?..yeah, thats more befitting..

Since: Oct 20, 2009
Posted on: December 6, 2011 2:05 pm

Three Harris Poll voters rank Oklahoma St. No. 6

You sound like a USC cry baby.

Since: Oct 12, 2010
Posted on: December 6, 2011 2:01 pm

Three Harris Poll voters rank Oklahoma St. No. 6

Are all Notre Dame graduates as unethical as Derrick Mayes or Missy Conboy?  If you dont trash the Harris Poll, at least give it much less weightings....

Since: Sep 25, 2011
Posted on: December 6, 2011 1:56 pm

Three Harris Poll voters rank Oklahoma St. No. 6

Pinedale: The difference is Bama had a direct shot against LSU and blew it.....what more is there to say.   I guess I could say Okie St's one loss came the morning after a true tragedy, it is convenient how nobody is mentioning that....Bama had no tragedy, except the fact they had the number 1 team on their home field and lost. 

Since: Sep 19, 2006
Posted on: December 6, 2011 1:50 pm

Three Harris Poll voters rank Oklahoma St. No. 6

More cheating by people associated with the SEC in the way they vote in these polls that count towards the BCS NC game. They will all be damned to hell for their lying and cheating. Nick Satan going on TV and saying how they earned a spot in the NC game is an example of someone who puts on a front of a God fearing citizen and it is only a disguise to cover up his motives of his own personal gain. Very disipointing how this voting manipulates who gets the money, and shows that it is not about the game on the field!

Since: Dec 4, 2011
Posted on: December 6, 2011 1:37 pm

Three Harris Poll voters rank Oklahoma St. No. 6

I actually hope that Bama destroys LSU that way we can see the SEC HOMERS fight among themselves about how Bama and LSU should be co-Champs.  

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