Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Polls-O-Plenty | by Jay

BCS polling news. Looks like the "old boys' network" poll is moving forward as the replacement for the AP portion of the BCS formula (as previously rumored).

NEW YORK - The Bowl Championship Series has a plan for a new college football poll, and hired a company Tuesday to find voters.

The new poll, which would be added to the BCS weekly rankings, would consist of former players, coaches, administrators and members of the media, the BCS said in a statement.

Harris Interactive, a marketing research and polling firm that operates The Harris Poll, “is in the process of contacting a random sample of individuals nominated by the conferences and Notre Dame to determine interest in participating in the poll,” BCS coordinator and Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg said in the statement.

BCS spokesman Bob Burda said Harris would be in charge of coordinating the poll and counting the votes on a weekly basis. The Big 12 and National Football Foundation will still be responsible for compiling the weekly BCS standings, Burda said.

A decision by the 11 Division I-A conferences and Notre Dame on whether to use the new poll could be made by mid-July.

“I am generally supportive of the concept (of a new poll),” Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione said. “We have not seen a formal presentation on it yet so it’s premature for me to comment on the specifics. I’ve been aware of it and like the fact that it has some independence. It is appealing to me that an outside organization would oversee the administration.”

The move comes following the decision by two major news organizations to opt out of the BCS ranking system, which determines the two teams that play in its national championship game.

In December, The Associated Press told the BCS to stop using its media poll in its weekly formula; ESPN withdrew from the coaches’ poll last week. The coaches’ poll remains part of the BCS rankings, and coaches agreed for the first time to reveal their votes for the final regular season poll.

The AP poll and the ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll had been the major components of the BCS rankings, and last season they held more weight than ever. The polls each counted for one-third of a team’s BCS grade, with a compilation of computer rankings making up the other third.

USA Today will continue compiling the coaches’ poll.
Another article I read on this mentioned that the panel would consist of 111 voters. Invitations to prospective panelists have already gone out, and 27 of them were to members of the media. By comparison, there were only 65 voters in the AP poll, and only 63 in the coaches'. I have no idea if these two polls are going to be weighted equally or not. And there's still the computer rankings, although it's still up in the air how much weight those are going to carry this time around.

Another interesting tidbit is about the new "transparency" of this poll. It's a nice selling point for this new arrangement, but according to the press release, only the final poll on December 4th will be "transparent", at which time every panelist's vote will be made public. This seems like a half-hearted effort to me. If the polls are secret right up until the finale, then there's still plenty of room for gamesmanship and pre-positioning. So much of the college football rankings is simply inertia; a top team can only fall so far, a lower team can only rise so much. And by concealing the votes all the way through they've done nothing to incentivize accountability (and honest objectivity) over the course of the season.

Anyway, I'm curious to see who's going to be on this august panel of "impartial" experts. From the ND pantheon, I expect Lou got an invite. God knows we're going to need some counterbalance for all the old coaches with axes to grind against the Irish.