Friday, November 30, 2007

Coaches Poll v3.0 | by Jeff

In 2005 and 2006, we looked at the inherent bias in the coaches poll. This is the third year that the coaches votes have been made public, and the more things change, the more they remain the same.

Getting Worse
With so much at stake this season (an automatic qualifier from the WAC, the #2 spot in the BCS, and some wrangling around the #14 spot), it is no surprise that some of the trends seem to be getting worse, particularly among conferences.

  • Coaches still rate their own team about 2 1/2 spots higher than everyone else, just like they did last year.
  • Conference affiliation meant much more this season, as coaches rated teams from their own conference over two spots higher, up from only one spot higher last season.
  • Simply being on a teams schedule accounted for a 1/2 spot boost in the polls for the third year running.

2005 2006 2007
Self Promoting +1.7 +2.5 +2.5
Same conference +1.0 +1.0 +2.3
On the schedule * +0.5 +0.5 +0.5
* non-conference

The WAC pushed hard to get Hawaii into the BCS, with WAC coaches bumping the Warrior's ranking by over five spots. Not stopping there, they also boosted Boise State's ranking by an average of 4.8 spots. Only Dick Tomey of San Jose State was closely in line with the majority of ballots; he boosted Hawaii and Boise State by more typical numbers (+2.9 and +1.3 respectively).

Ranking Boost by Conference Voters
WAC +5.0
SEC +2.5
PAC 10 +2.1
ACC +2.0
Big Ten +2.0
Big East +1.9
Big XII +1.8
MWC +1.8
CUSA +1.6

Feeling the Love
Apparently, the Big Ten coaches wanted to send coach Lloyd Carr out with a little recognition as Michigan was ranked by five Big Ten coaches. In addition to Carr voting for his own team, Wisconsin's Brett Bielema, Indiana's Bill Lynch, Purdue's Joe Tiller, and Illinois' Ron Zook also added Michigan to their lists. And, as proof that nothing says "I'm sorry" like a vote in the coaches poll, Les Miles also gave Lloyd a nod. Apparently, rivalries mean something, however, as Ohio State's Jim Tressel and Michigan State's Mark Dantonio were among the other 54 coaches who left the Wolverines unranked.

The Envelope Please...

The Brady Hoke Award is given to the coach who omits the highest rated team each year. The award is named after Ball State coach Brady Hoke, who completely omitted Arkansas from his ballot in 2006, despite the fact that they were ranked 13th in the country. And the winner is...

Beloved former coach of Notre Dame and Stanford, and current Washington coach Tyrone Willingham. Coach Willingham either didn't feel that otherwise-14th-ranked Boston College deserved to be ranked, or perhaps he stayed at ND long enough for some anti-BC bias to rub off. But, if there is anything you'd think Ty would be good at, it is keeping a correct scorecard.

The Yosemite Sam Award is given to the rootin' tootin'-est craziest coach out there who's votes least match up with the other coaches. These individuals are not afraid to blaze their own trails and are not swayed by the consensus votes of their other coaches (or apparently by actual performance on the field). This year's winner is no other than Howard Schnellenberger, who averaged three spots different than the final poll with his selections. Most notable among the former Miami coach's rankings were: Southern Cal (6 spots lower), Florida (9 lower), Kansas (6 higher), Hawaii (7 higher), Boise State (12 higher), and UConn (10 higher).

And, finally, we come to the Dan McCarney Award. In 2006, Coach McCarney's ballot differed from the final rankings in by only three total places. His 6th and 7th picks were swapped, and his #25 team was first in "other's receiving votes" section. Amazing. No one came close to Dan's acumen this season, but Sonny Lubick of Colorado State did the best, with a .8 average difference between his poll and the final tally.