How they voted: Inside the USA Today coaches poll
Every year, I like to see the final USA Today coaches poll of the regular season posted for public inspection, just to see the nuances of how coaches vote, especially with regard to their own team and conference.
You can check out all the ballots on USA Today's awesome interactive graphic, which lets you see all the ballots by individual team or voter. Some observations then ...
-- On the big Alabama vs. Oklahoma State debate at No. 2, all six SEC coaches followed the party line, putting Alabama ahead of OSU -- the Tide's own Nick Saban made a point to put the Cowboys, one of just six coaches to not have OSU in the top three. (Air Force's Troy Calhoun somehow put OSU at No. 5, below a two-loss Arkansas team). But on the Big 12 side, it wasn't quite unanimous in conference solidarity, understandably, as Missouri's Gary Pinkel went with his future league, putting Bama one spot ahead of OSU.
-- Out of 18 coaches who voted for their own team, only one had their own team lower than their actual final ranking. So kudos to Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer, who put his Hokies at No. 13, two spots below their actual ranking.
-- Most egregious voting-for-themselves offenders? Virginia made it on two ballots, one of them belonging to ... Virginia coach Mike London, who had his team No. 23 despite losing 38-0 in its final game to Virginia Tech. Louisiana Tech made two ballots, one of them ... Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes. BYU made 11 ballots, but none higher than the No. 22 ranking they got from ... BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall.
-- Biggest difference between a team's actual ranking and where they made their own coach's ballot? That'd be Southern Miss' Larry Fedora, who put his team No. 16, five spots above their ranking. Only two coaches had Baylor higher than Art Briles, who put his own team at No. 12, four spots ahead of their rank; same for Nebraska's Bo Pelini, who saw only one coach think more of his team than he did.
-- Stanford coach David Shaw was one of just six coaches to put the Cardinal at No. 3; South Carolina's Steve Spurrier saw only four coaches rank the Gamecocks higher than he did; only two higher than Boise State's Chris Petersen put his team, and only three higher than Wisconsin's Bret Bielema put his team.
-- Les Miles of course had his own team No. 1, Nick Saban his own team No. 2, and congrats to the following coaches, whose votes for their own team were either spot on or in the middle of the pack (coach vote, actual vote): Michigan's Brady Hoke (11/12), Michigan State's Mark D'Antonio (12/13), Houston's Kevin Sumlin (16/17), Georgia's Mark Richt (18/18), Oklahoma's Bob Stoops (17/19).
-- Highest ranked team left off a ballot? No. 16 Baylor didn't make the ballot of Colorado's Jon Embree; BYU's Mendenhall didn't rank No. 18 Georgia on his ballot.
-- And yes, USF's Skip Holtz had his own ballot, with no huge surprises -- he went with Alabama at No. 2, gave West Virginia its second-highest rank at No. 18 and put fellow Big East team Cincinnati at No. 23. He matched the highest vote on Virginia Tech at No. 8 and gave Oklahoma (after its 34-point loss to Oklahoma State) its lowest ranking at No. 24.
-- And if you think the coaches have some odd votes, check out the Harris Poll, where one voter had Houston at 5 and Oklahoma State at 6.