Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Harris Poll: belching black smoke | by Pat

Last month the Harris Interactive Poll voting members were released to plenty of raised eyebrows and message board exclamation points. And no sooner had the list been announced than a handful of members dropped out. Six total left the 114 member panel, with association with ESPN being a primary reason. The impact to Notre Dame was that Lou Holtz and Gerry DiNardo were among the six. The replacements were named to little fanfare on August 31st and included retired Marshall coach Bob Pruett and former Georgia coach Ray Goff. The other four named voters were former players Jim Mandich (Michigan) and Joe Jacoby (Louisville), and former assistant coaches Denny Aldridge (who played at Texas...can't find where he coached) and Frank Sadler (South Carolina).

From the "you can't make this up" file, Pruett then dropped out days later due to his affliation with ESPN. So, the replacement for a voter who was affliated with ESPN was another voter with an affliation with ESPN. Brilliant! Reaching once again into the tree stump and hoping not to get bit, the Harris Poll selected former SMU player Bobby Leach to be the hopefully final replacement.

Now, Notre Dame is supposed to have three nominated voters among the group of 114. In the original version of the poll, the Irish looked like they were well-represented. Lou Holtz, Rocket Ismail, and Jim Morse appeared to be the official Irish nominees while Gerry DiNardo and Roger Valdiserri had obvious ties. With both Holtz and DiNardo being replaced, it seems as if Notre Dame then would have another one of its original 10 nominees selected as the third ND rep. But looking at the new names that were selected, I don't see any Irish alligence. Did they just move Valdiserri over to the ND camp and not select another Irish-nominated voter even though Valdiserri emphatically stated that he was not on the original member list in a Notre Dame-centric capacity?

To be clear, I'm not readying my tinfoil hat and practicing my charges of voter bias. If Notre Dame wins, I suspect it will be ranked accordingly. But I am wondering just how exactly the new voters were selected as the conference affliations between the old and new voting members don't exactly seem to line up. Perhaps I'm missing something (very possible, here's the full voter list) but there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to the process of selecting the new voters, which casts doubts on why exactly this poll is a key component of how millions of dollars are decided come BCS bowl time.