Bad move: Coaches vote to make ballots secret


Destin–At a time when Congress is hauling the BCS into hearings in an attempt to get more transparency into the process, the American Football Coaches Association, a group I really respect, has made bad, bad step.

That group’s board of directors voted to make the final ballots in the coach’s poll—the one which helps determine who will play in the BCS championship game—secret once more starting after the 2010 regular season.

For the past three years coaches have made their final ballots public. That was done in order to have some kind of accountability in the system. The voters in the Harris Interactive poll, the other poll used in the BCS formula, are subject to have their ballots released at any time. With so much at stake in terms of money and prestige, and with BCS championship berths being decided by mere percentage points (ask Texas), every vote in both polls is critical.

“If every ballot was public then I would be out of it,” said Georgia coach Mark Richt, who votes in the coaches poll. “But there should be some accountability. I don’t mind having my last vote be public.”

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said that the last vote should be made public in order “to keep folks honest.”

It is true that for a couple of days after the final vote coaches were having their votes scrutinized by the media. That scrutiny could be a little uncomfortable. So what? If you’re going to be powerful enough to determine who plays for the national championship, you need to be strong enough to take 48 hours of scrutiny. If you don’t want the scrutiny, then you shouldn’t vote in the poll. It comes with the territory.

And if the AFCA doesn’t want the scrutiny, that’s fine. Keep doing the poll. Keep awarding their national championship. It is a prestigious one. But get out of the BCS.

This sends exactly the wrong message as the bozos in Congress are trying to strong-arm college football. It just gives the Joe Bartons of the world some ammunition that they don’t deserve.

Here is some other stuff from the SEC Spring meetings:

NCAA updates on Alabama, Memphis: I’ve been getting questions for weeks about the upcoming resolution of Alabama’s NCAA case concerning the textbook scandal of 2007. Remember that Alabama self-reported that case in the fall of that year and suspended several football players because of it. Other sports were also involved. Based on some conversations I had yesterday it looks like a decision in that case could come as early as next week. No one has any idea what additional penalties (loss or scholarships, etc.) or if any additional penalties will be forthcoming.

Memphis received word yesterday that the NCAA is looking in allegations that a former basketball player had help making the required grade on the SAT and played for the Tigers during the 2007-08 season. Subsequent media reports claim that that Derrick Rose, who played one season and then went to the NBA, is the player involved. Former coach John Calipari, now at Kentucky, is not named in the NCAA charge but has been asked to speak to investigators.

Kentucky president Lee Todd issued a statement Thursday afternoon that the school was made aware of this during the interview process with Calipari. Kentucky is convinced that Calipari is not involved and will have no further comment.



SEC discusses eight-team playoff: The league has already discussed the Mountain West Conference’s proposal to create an eight-team playoff to decide college football’s national championship. No one is expecting a whole of support for the idea. BCS officials, who testified before a Congressional committee earlier this year, promised that the major conferences would at least discuss the eight-team playoff during their annual spring meets. But the current BCS contract has five more years to run (1 on Fox, 4 on ESPN). The SEC has won three straight BCS national championships so the current system has worked pretty well for this league.

But Alabama coach Nick Saban said that the system needs to be tweaked because too much of the post-season emphasis in college football is focused on just two teams. He learned that the hard way when his No. 1 Crimson Tide lost in the SEC championship game to Florida and just basically fell off the map with its trip to the Sugar Bowl—where they lost to Utah.

“You just need to have more teams involved,” said Saban, who said he could support a four-team set up where 1 plays 4 and 2 plays 3 in the semifinals and the two winners play a week later for the championship.


Will over signing be eliminated? Ole Miss raised some eyebrows in February when Houston Nutt signed 37 players. Arkansas signed 32. The NCAA limit on new players who may be on scholarship come the fall semester is 25. Sometimes that math can be a little tricky.

 Nutt said Tuesday that “We knew seven or eight guys would 100 percent not qualify so you’re able to help some junior colleges,” of which there are many in the state of Mississippi.

Auburn has sponsored legislation that will limit signings in the SEC to 28 per year. The measure will be voted on Friday by the SEC’s presidents. If it passes, the SEC will send it on to the NCAA to see if that body would adopt the practice nationwide.

Commissioner Mike Slive told reporters that he was “concerned” when he saw the numbers of signees by some schools creeping over 30. This one has a very good chance of passing.


Basketball schedules are going to get tougher. Slive had a pretty forceful message for his men’s basketball coaches: Start upgrading your non-conference schedules.

The SEC placed only three teams in the NCAA Tournament last season and that number would have been two if Mississippi State had not won the conference tournament. Slive had a ringside seat for the SEC’s basketball woes because he was the chair of the NCAA Men’s Basketball selection committee.

“You better understand why teams in get into the tournament and why they don’t,” Slive said. “To me it was clear what we should do.”

Ron Higgins of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal did some good reporting on this. Higgins found that, according to Jerry Palm’s RPI rankings, 55.3 percent of the SEC’s non-conference wins last season (68 of 123) came against teams ranked 201 or higher.


Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl, however, says a team can get burned by a tough schedule. He played the No. 3 rated schedule last season and ended up with a No. 9 seed in the tournament.

“There needs to be more of a risk/reward,” Pearl said. “We took the risk of playing that schedule but we didn’t get rewarded when we got a nine seed.”


138 comments Add your comment


May 28th, 2009
8:26 am

From what I understand, Tony, Calipari was sent a letter stating he wouldn’t be named in the violations at Memphis. This was sent by the NCAA to Kentucky and Calipari.

I’m not sure why I read your article ’cause Jimmy Hyams reads it every afternoon on his afternoon show to the listeners. :)


May 28th, 2009
8:30 am

Personally, I think all of the ballots should be public. There is too much at stake throughout the entire season.

I’d love to hear more from Richt about why he would drop out of the process if the ballots were made public all year long.


May 28th, 2009
8:33 am

Every ballot need not be made public, but the ones pre and post league championship games should. Maybe those ballots should be notarized.
No one should be surprised that illegal activities follow Coach Cal and World Wide Wes. Kentucky knew exactly what they were getting. That’s why they hired him.


May 28th, 2009
8:35 am

Scrap the idiotic bs bcs. It is the dumbest system ever developed…there are only two things dumber….idiots like Tony Barnyard defending the idiotic bcs and the hiring of chan gomer gailey. Thanks to God and Greyhound, chan gomer gailey is gone and the bcs needs to go with him.

Immediately institute a 16 game playoff and it will be the most fair and most exciting sporting event in the history of the world. And the added benefit of a true champion and not a fake champion like floriduh was last year.

Tony, get your head out of your arse and get behind a playoff.


May 28th, 2009
8:53 am

Everyone knows many of the coaches don’t take the ballot seriously enough. They have aids fill it out, they don’t have the time to do the research to make sure their rankings are consistent and reflect head to head play. So they are not going to open themselves up to the scrutiny week to week. To vote to reverse the last poll is unbelievable. However, the more controversy with the current system the better. Eventually a major faux pas will bring it crashing down.

What? No mention of the UT coach today? (thank god)


May 28th, 2009
8:54 am

What prompted this move to make the last vote secret? They would have to know that at the very least, it would give the impression that coaches from certain regions and conferences would try to game the system to their advantage. You thought the BCS was unpopular before, just wait until we get some outlandish matchups with no transparency and no accountability. That would be some end of the world stuff – dogs and cats, living together.

Gator Mike

May 28th, 2009
8:57 am

Why submit any comments when the AJC has become selective in who can make a comment. Sept 19 in the Swamp on CBS at 3:30 p.m. is my only comment. Go Gators!


May 28th, 2009
9:03 am

I’m surprised the pathetic, loser barners aren’t on here with their “death penalty is coming from an inside source I know” comments. what a bunch of f@gs.. Fear the Chizzzzzzzzzzzz


May 28th, 2009
9:08 am

m does not m-press me. Hey m-oron, any chance you’re a former president now living in Texas?
Make the ballots public.


May 28th, 2009
9:10 am

Why not just get rid of the Coaches Poll. No coach has the time to completely review each team’s performance to make an educated decision on who ranks where. There’s no doubt coaches will side with their team or their conference or other teams on their schedule. It’s just another idiotic piece of the BCS puzzle.


May 28th, 2009
9:13 am

Dog fans are all about tradition when comes to a game in Jacksonville they can’t win. So why is the tradition of the bowl games silly? Can you see dog fans are more about the party than actually winning a National Title?


May 28th, 2009
9:13 am

Yeah that comment by Richt was interesting. Makes you wonder if there’s an understanding that all coaches vote their team #1 to keep them propped up in the rankings and then go legit w/ the last ballot.

I hate to be that guy, but it does make you wonder.


May 28th, 2009
9:18 am

Just my 2 cents worth….

**Ban M from this site. He keeps on calling you an idiot and this should not be tolerated. If he cannot communicate effectively and respectfully he should be booted.
** please get rid of the AJC advertisement for whiter teeth. Those pics are disturbing when I’m trying to eat my breakfast.

K Greene

May 28th, 2009
9:31 am

Secret Ballots = New Coke. Great time to get a case of the stupids when Congress is just looking for reasons to break up their little party.

I second Mikey

May 28th, 2009
9:31 am

Tony, you have the patience of Job to allow m to repeatedly post his hatred for everything & everybody. But please do the readers a favor, ban his sorry azz.


May 28th, 2009
9:44 am

Coach Pearl..based on your performance in the NCAA tourney….you didn’t deserve a higher seeding.

Coach Saban…win your ball games and you don’t have to worry about “post season exposure”. Quit whining.

Tony….I agree. Either make the coaches votes public or get them out of the BSC formula.


May 28th, 2009
9:47 am

M…I guess you must also be an NFL fan. Your desire for a “second season” is obvious.

Gen Neyland

May 28th, 2009
9:47 am

You mean to tell me Derrick Rose wasn’t a candidate for a Rhodes scholarship..? Crushing.

Saban says the BCS system needs to be tweaked. Many fans say overhauled. The programs most satisfied with the current BCSNC package as is are the two each year playing for it…


May 28th, 2009
9:49 am

The BCS committee should immediately move and remove the coaches poll from any relevance at all. They don’t take it seriously as a group anyway.

At this point just go with the computers.


May 28th, 2009
9:50 am

The retired coaches poll is a better idea anyway.


May 28th, 2009
10:01 am

Mikey- I’m with you about those teeth whitening ads. Absolutely disgusting.

The coaches poll proves that college football = politics. I can only imagine what these polls look like throughout the year. Take my bulldawgs for example. Anybody else wonder why we were ranked #1, won our first two games, and dropped two spots in the polls? Sketchy…

I agree with you Tony. If a coach is taking part in a decision that affects so much, he should have to be scrutinized for it.

Can I ignorantly ask what the greyhound reference is about? Did Gailey leave on a greyhound? Just wondering…

Roswell Ed

May 28th, 2009
10:14 am

Secret ballot? That’s insane. I always like to look at how these idiots or their minions vote.

Calipari is a snake oil salesman.

Check out my other opinions. I think you’ll enjoy them.


May 28th, 2009
10:18 am

The teeth whitening ads are there for the Tennessee fans.


May 28th, 2009
10:25 am

No Baconboy, it says teeth whitening, not tooth whitening so it cannot be aimed at UT fans.


May 28th, 2009
10:26 am

Calipari’s already in trouble and he just got to UK! He had the same problems at UMass, with players getting in trouble with agents and he claimed he knew nothing. UK will be on probation soon—mark it down. Pitino’s ready to put a good beat down on Calipari to show him who’s boss in college BB.

man o man

May 28th, 2009
10:28 am

Hey Mikey ! What’s that cereal you like again ?

Tide rising and I third mikey

May 28th, 2009
10:41 am


I’ve jumped on the ban “m” bandwagon. Get rid of this disrespectful person. There’s no room for his name calling, especially towards you the author. Also, his posts are just plain dumb, inane, and are anything but insightful. I guess there is no rule against really dumb posts but if you can’t ban him for that then at least ban him for calling you an idiot every day. I know you have a thick skin and can take it but every one else is tired of it and tired of him.

Secret ballot is a terrible idea. There should be a modicum of accountability.

I think we all agree the teeth whitening ad is disgusting. Please ask the advertising staff to stick it somewhere else or just get rid of it.


May 28th, 2009
10:48 am

Bad idea on the secret ballots-particularly given the level of distrust of the BCS system-although i think it has worked fairly well myself

[...] … I don’t care where we play the game, quite frankly.”Tony Barnhart of The AJC provides his own wrap on all of yesterday’s news (over-signing, John Calipari, tougher basketball schedules, etc) [...]


May 28th, 2009
10:53 am

The secret ballot is a horrible move! Honesty and integrity have taken a step back per this decision.

[...] he offers his opinion on is the fact that the American Football Coaches Association has decided to make a coach’s top 25 poll private beginning in 2010. In case you didn’t know, the vote, which plays a part in the BCS formula, has been public. [...]


May 28th, 2009
11:00 am

Hey Eric, that former president living in Texas has a degree from Yale, and a MBA from Harvard. Seems that maybe you’re the m-oran.

Rabun Dawg

May 28th, 2009
11:07 am

Tide Rising and I third Mikey,
Amen, Brother, on your post!!


May 28th, 2009
11:15 am

Guys, it wouldn’t do any good to ban m. Someone like him would just sign in under another name or use his grannys pc, since i’m sure he lives with her. Do like myself and anytime you see the m username, just go to the next post. If you respond to his posts or complain, he wins. That’s what he wants, you know.


Thank God and Greyhound he’s gone, is a tired old saying, made more tired by m’s use of it everyday.


May 28th, 2009
11:17 am

Transparency, transparency, transparency!
If you’re going to politcize a system intended to be objective, then you should face the music for it.

What say we take a vote on m’s banning?


May 28th, 2009
11:18 am


May 28th, 2009
11:19 am

And I was born on the backseat of a Greyhound bus,
rolling down Highway 99.

Now we know why m continues to use the Greyhound reference. He is missing his home.

[...] Poll goes secret:– Coaches go anonymous – Hale– Coaches Poll makes bad move – Barnhart– Heavy price for secret ballots – Pat Forde– Spurrier against secret ballots [...]

Saint Nick

May 28th, 2009
11:21 am

M is an idiot!!! Don’t ban him,hire one of those guys from that sniper show to pick him off from 500 yards!!! They could have a show centered around sniping M!!!!! We have to go to a +1 system, BUT it will never happen UNTIL whoever wins the bid on the BCS rights DEMANDS to have a playoff BEFORE they sign the TV contract!!!! ROLLS TIDES!!!!

Reptiles Rule

May 28th, 2009
11:28 am

Secret balloting will be the beginning of the end for the Coaches Poll which is not a bad thing. Very few coaches have vast knowledge of every team outside their conference and don’t have the initiative nor the time to know. They do what most of us do, they rely on what the media says! As long as there is a human element involved, it’s all subjective and just an opinion anyway.


May 28th, 2009
11:30 am

Calipari knew that the charge was coming and that he was not at risk. He informed Kentucky before they hired him. This is not news to them and will not affect his job status at all with Kentucky.


May 28th, 2009
11:31 am

Incidently, Cuz, I think it’s Highway 41.


May 28th, 2009
11:36 am

You are right Grad, thanks for the point out. How did the rock, paper, scissors challenge work out with Coach Meyer and Coach Kiffin?

Gator Growl

May 28th, 2009
11:37 am

While I agree with the overwhelming majority here that “m” stands for moron, I am strongly against his banning. What is that famous saying? Goes kind of like “I may not agree with what you say, but I will fight for your right to say it”. This is the USA, not N. Korea. It is your right to express yourself, no matter how moronic or idiotic it may be. I mean after all, just look at Lane Kiffin!!!


May 28th, 2009
11:41 am

I agree about the ballots. Now let’s all sing along boys and girls, “conflict of interest”.


May 28th, 2009
11:43 am

The greatest sport in the history of the world is college football.

It is a shame and a disgrace to not have a real champion in the most important sport.

The bs bcs is a disgrace and everyone supporting it is a disgrace.

Tech got rid of chan gomer gailey and the fans should demand that the bcs be abolished immediately.

When we finally have a true playoff system in college football, the days of the bs bcs will be looked back on with disgust. History will treat the bs bcs very harshly.


May 28th, 2009
11:48 am


That’s funny.
Can you imagine?
Although I suspect it would be a much more boring world without these boys’ shots across each other’s bows.
Too much has been made of it.
Let ‘em have some fun.
Their jobs are stressful enough.
Just blowin’ off steam.


May 28th, 2009
12:05 pm

Saint Nick…………………..OK, I just give up, what in the hell are the S’s for. I’m 3rd generation gator but my two kids are Ala grads.


May 28th, 2009
12:09 pm

man o man: I am supposed to like Life cereal, but I prefer Honey Nut Cheerios.


May 28th, 2009
12:10 pm

Saint Nick:

Instead of “W, the President”
It’s “S, the Coach”