Examining the coaches' final ballots ...
I raved about it last year, and it's back again: USA Today has an awesome online feature that allows you to look up every final ballot from the coaches' poll, comparing it coach by coach or school by school. Lots of observations to be made:
-- USF coach Jim Leavitt's ballot isn't anything unusual -- he has Oklahoma No.1 and Florida No. 2, agreeing with the consensus on the national championship game. His biggest outlier is having BYU ranked 22nd -- six spots below their actual ranking. As far as the Big East teams, he had Cincinnati No. 11, one spot ahead of their ranking, and Pittsburgh 17th, four spots above theirs. The only team he ranked that didn't finish in the actual top 25? Boston College, which he put 21st after a loss in the ACC title game -- they ended up 26th in the actual balloting.
-- Oklahoma, as you might have heard, edged Florida for the No. 1 ranking by a single vote-point. So it's worth noting which coaches put those teams lowest -- UCLA's Rick Neuheisel was the only coach not to have the Sooners in the top three, putting them fourth. Nobody voted Florida lower than third, but of the nine coaches who had Florida No. 3, five -- Gene Chizik, Dan Hawkins, Mike Leach, Bo Pelini and Gary Pinkel -- were Big 12 coaches.
-- It works both ways: Only coach who didn't have a Big 12 team in his top two? That'd be Georgia's Mark Richt, whose SEC loyalties put Florida No. 1 and Alabama No. 2. In a battle of loyalties, South Carolina's Steve Spurrier put his good friend Bob Stoops' Oklahoma team No. 1, ahead of his alma mater and former employer, Florida. And former Clemson coach Tommy Bowden had his father's Florida State team ranked 21st, impressive if only because Bobby Bowden didn't include the Seminoles on his ballot.
-- Also curious that Texas Tech's Mike Leach had his team No. 2, the highest of any balloter. New Mexico State's Hal Mumme, who had the Red Raiders No. 3, was the only other coach to vote Texas Tech higher than No. 6. Leach was one of four coaches who had Texas No. 5, their lowest ranking on any ballot.
-- Texas' Mack Brown, impressively, had Florida No. 1 on his ballot, one spot ahead of his own team. Florida's Urban Meyer, who had his own team ranked No. 1, voted Mississippi -- the only team to beat his Gators -- No. 12, the highest they were ranked on any ballot.
-- Which coach has the most BCS bias? Has to be Missouri's Gary Pinkel. Of the non-BCS conference powers, he had Utah 15th -- six lower than any other ballot -- and had Boise State 16th, five spots lower than any other voter. He gave TCU its lowest ranking at No. 17 and had BYU 19th, three spots lower than its actual ranking.
-- Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer ranked his team 23rd -- four spots lower than they wound up ranked, the only coach I could find that voted his team under its ranking. Two coaches didn't the ACC champions should be ranked -- Texas' Mack Brown and Louisville's Steve Kragthorpe didn't have them in their top 25.
-- Only two coaches voted their team exactly where they ended up in the polls -- Oregon's Mike Bellotti (13th) and Michigan State's Mark D'Antonio (18th).
-- Coaches proud of their own efforts? Ohio State's Jim Tressel had his Buckeyes eighth, two spots higher than their ranking -- only two other coaches voted Ohio State higher. Utah's Kyle Whittingham put his team fifth, two above its ranking, matching the highest ranking given to the Utes.
TCU's Gary Patterson had his team 10th -- one spot higher than its actual ranking, but one of only two top-10 votes the Horned Frogs got. Georgia's Richt had his Bulldogs 16th, one spot ahead of their ranking, and Oregon State's Mike Riley had his team 24th, one spot ahead of their ranking.
Nebraska's Bo Pelini got ranked on just two ballots -- his own, where he had his Huskers 22nd, and on one other that had them 25th. UNC's Butch Davis put his Tar Heels 24th, accounting for two of his team's six total vote-points. Rutgers' Greg Schiano has one of the hottest teams in the country, but he was one of only two coaches to vote for the Scarlet Knights. He and Fresno State's Pat Hill put Rutgers No. 25 on their ballots.