The final regular-season USA Today college football coaches poll — in which the individual ballots are revealed for the only time — are usually a fount of amusement, filled with curiosity, cronyism and conflicts of interest.
With bonuses sometimes tied to the BCS standings — of which the coaches poll makes up one-third of the formula — should coaches really be voting?
You can see how all the coaches voted at this link, and one thing jumped out at me right away.
Arizona State, at 7-5 overall, received eight votes in the poll. Upon closer inspection, two coaches put the Sun Devils on their Top 25 ballot. Looking even further, you find that the one coach to rate ASU the highest — at No. 20 — is none other than Arizona State coach Todd Graham.
ASU defeated only one FBS team with a winning record this season, that being 7-5 Arizona.
The other coach to put Arizona State on his ballot was Arkansas State’s Gus Malzahn, who had the Devils at No. 24. Perhaps no so coincidentally, Malzahn was an offensive coordinator under Graham at Tulsa.
Malzahn also ranked his own team the highest, putting the Red Wolves at No. 17. They were included on just four of 59 ballots.
Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez is also a voter, and his ballot largely followed the pack, although he did not include Nebraska nor Wisconsin in his Top 25. His one “outlier” is his old school, Michigan. RichRod put the Wolverines at No. 15, which matched Michigan’s highest ranking. No hard feelings then, Michigan fans?
One more note about that: Of the two other coaches to put Michigan at No. 15, one was Wolverines coach Brady Hoke.
And all this comes when the coaches know their ballots will be made public. Makes you wonder what craziness happens behind the curtain in the regular season.