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.”