Pac-12: Howard Schnellenberger
First, he's taking his ball and going home in a fit of pique. Second, USA Today's gotcha moment in the name of the "poll's integrity" -- insert canned laughter there -- inspired him to drop one more frustration from his life and focus on his team.
It's probably a little of both.
The bottom line is a negative for Kiffin. There was no reason to fib, to tell reporters he wouldn't vote his team No. 1 when he did. And his explanation afterward that he was speaking about other voters, not himself, when he was saying he wouldn't vote the Trojans No. 1 smacked of a guy with a razor blade and a shaky hand going after a strand of hair.
Kiffin's reputation, terrible after controversial tenures with the Oakland Raiders and Tennessee Volunteers, has experienced a renaissance this past year. And for good reason. He let his coaching and recruiting do most of his talking and the message that started to emerge was he was good at both. Further, those of us who've had a scattering of moments with him when he lets his guard down have experienced a guy who is insightful and pretty darn amusing.
This truly is a tempest in a teapot. While, if you are keeping score at home, this is a blip in the "Rehabilitated Kiffin" narrative. Kiffin haters, as frustrated and neutered a group of gadflies as you could find of late, now can again smear themselves with goat's blood and dance around their bonfires. So enjoy this 23 seconds in the news cycle.
On the other hand, some USC fans are going overboard with their conspiracy theories. Some seem to believe Kiffin was outed just because he's Lane Kiffin. While it is possible that a lesser-known coach's random comments wouldn't have registered, there is a precedent for USA Today's gotcha moment on Kiffin's dissembling. The same thing happened to former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel in 2006. And, yes, Ohio State completed a series of PR backflips to try to take the heat off Tressel.
This moment could have been avoided if Kiffin had just refused to say which team he voted No. 1 because his vote is -- was -- confidential. Or he could have said he voted his team No. 1, which would have been fine because his team very well might be the best in the land.
But since USA Today has gravely reiterated its so-serious task of protecting the coaches' poll integrity, perhaps it should actually take that job seriously by insisting the poll be transparent, with each voter's ballot published every week, as the AP poll does. We are talking about a news organization, not a "Hide Important Information From the Public" organization. The argument that coaches need confidentiality is devoid of merit. You win an argument over that point with a simple, "No, that's wrong. Hush."
Further, it should be more aggressive in policing voters whose ballots fail the integrity test. As the Pac-12 blog once pointed out, for years Howard Schnellenberger's ballot was often clueless and indefensible. Someone should have tracked down Schnellenberger and simply told him to re-vote or be kicked out of the poll.
Here's a guess that confidentiality has allowed more than a handful of coaches to vote in a way that is obviously self-interested and disingenuous. That is a far more serious issue than Lane Kiffin saying he didn't vote his team No. 1 when he did.
The Pac-12 blog has always held a special place for Howard Schnellenberger, who apparently got a painful wedgie from a Pac-10 fan at some point and took out his passive-aggressive revenge with his buffoonish coaches poll votes through the years.
But that's just me. You surely have your special guy who you rant and rave about.
So to help out, here are a list of 2011 AP voters, arranged so you can see who is in and who is out.
Further, here's a great website that takes you behind the scenes into the AP poll: PollSpeak. It's interactive, so you can vote on which voters you like and don't like.
Further, there's plenty of interesting information, such as the historically most overrated and underrated teams in in the AP poll -- Pac-12 teams are featured in both categories.
In any event, the Pac-12 blog gets plenty of mail from irate fans, ranting about various pollsters. Not saying I don't love those notes, but PollSpeak is where you should take those complaints.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Oregon's talented but inconsistent receiver Jaison Williams will play in the "Texas vs. the Nation All-Star Classic" on Saturday in El Paso, making him the seventh Duck to participate in a postseason college All-Star game, according to Duck Feed, Andy McNamara's blog (Addicted to Quack was already taken).
McNamara also calls Williams' coach for the game, Florida Atlantic's Howard Schnellenberger, "legendary."
Perhaps Williams will ask Schnellenberger about his vote in the Coaches' Poll.
Schnelly voted USC No. 8 and Oregon No. 19 at the end of the regular season. Both were the lowest rankings from any of the 60 voters.
He didn't vote any other Pac-10 team in his final top 25.
How about this: At the end of the 2007 season, he ranked Missouri No. 4 and Oklahoma No. 7 even though the Sooners gave Missouri BOTH of its losses?
And Kansas, which lost to Missouri, was No. 2.