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Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Kevin O'Neill cares not for the coaches' poll

By Eamonn Brennan

At the risk of using a borderline meaningless cliché, the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' poll is what it is. It's fun to talk about, it provides a handy if questionably accurate reference point for non-college hoops fans, and it does provide some common perception of the national college hoops scene.

Beyond that, it's just ... there. It's a coaches poll. Coaches polls are kind of dumb in general. If you take it too seriously, that's your own fault.

Case in point: USC coach Kevin O'Neill. Discussing the Pac-10's total lack of coaches' poll entrants this week, O'Neill told the Orange County Register's Michael Lev that he has no use for the coaches' poll, anyway:
"I have no interest in doing it," he said. "I never want to do it. It's a conflict of interest, and it's a farce, let's face it."

That rather blunt statement stemmed from O'Neill's frustration that Washington wasn't included in this week's coaches' poll. Which is fair. I share that frustration. Washington is way, way better than "also receiving votes."

But the underlying theme here -- whether coaches take the poll seriously -- is what's interesting. Do coaches care about this thing? Kevin O'Neill certainly doesn't. If he's representative of his peers, then you can either lament the sad fact that highly paid college hoops coaches can't take time off from Facebook-messaging 15-year-olds to spend half an hour working on something college hoops fans spend time caring about. Which is a little bit sad.

Or you can acknowledge the poll for what it is, enjoy its innate absurdity and spend Monday afternoons ridiculing it accordingly. I'm going to keep going with the latter. I hope you join me.