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PAC-12 Commish: Coaches poll a fallacy

EUGENE, OR - NOVEMBER 19: Head coach Lane

EUGENE, OR - NOVEMBER 19: Head coach Lane Kiffin of the USC Trojans speaks with his team in the first half of the game against the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium on November 19, 2011 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images) Credit: Getty/Steve Dykes

Should coaches be involved in voting for a national champion?

This could end up being a moot point once the BCS system is scrapped and the four-team playoff is implemented in 2014, but for now it is a perfectly valid question.

USC coach Lane Kiffin (pictured) said he’d no longer vote in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll after his team was voted preseason No. 1. PAC-12 commissioner Larry Scott backed up Kiffin’s decision on Wednesday.

“I think it’s an unfair position to put coaches in, to supposedly vote objectively when they’ve got a very natural conflict of interest,” Scott said during an interview on 710-ESPN. “To expect that coaches could have a good, balanced, well-researched perspective on who the best are in any given week is a fallacy.”

Coaches having a say in the polls has not come without controversy. In 2004 coaches were accused of manipulating the system after Texas jumped California in the final week of the regular season.

The Golden Bears were the No. 4 team heading into the final week, while Texas was fifth. California beat an unimpressive Southern Miss team, 26-16, while the Longhorns were idle. Texas coach Mack Brown publicly lobbied voters in the AP and Coaches polls to give Texas the votes necessary to earn an at-large BCS berth.

Texas jumped California, finishing .0129 points ahead of the Golden Bears in the final BCS standings. Teams finishing in the top four of the final BCS standings get automatic at-large bids. Texas played Michigan in the Rose Bowl, while Cal played (and lost) to Texas Tech in the Holiday Bowl.

There have always been questions regarding the integrity of the Coaches poll. Do coaches do enough research? Can all coaches who vote truly objective? These are valid questions because teams get bigger payouts when fellow conference members qualify for BCS bowls. 

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