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Tony Barnhart's AP Ballot


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I wish all voters at least took this much thought into their vote.

ANALYSIS: No. 1 spot should go to Auburn

Tony Barnhart - Staff

Monday, November 15, 2004

On Sunday, three of the 65 voters in the Associated Press media poll

changed their ballots from the previous week and made Auburn No. 1. I

was one of those, and here's why.

Many coaches would argue to the contrary, but sports writers are

people, too. And like most people, we want to be right.

Sometimes our desire to be right can come into conflict with what is

fair. Such is the case, I believe, for sports writers and broadcasters

who vote in the AP poll.

Like a lot of voters, I had USC and Oklahoma 1-2 in my preseason poll.

Both have had several close calls, but neither has lost.

For the writer/voter, it becomes a self-fulling prophecy that borders

on a conflict of interest. Those of us who wrote back in the summer

that USC and Oklahoma were the two best teams in the land want to be

proven right over the course of the season. Under normal

circumstances, it is only human for voters to keep USC and Oklahoma in

place as long as they do not lose.

But this is not a normal season. Heading into the third Saturday in

November, we still have five undefeated teams in Division I-A. Three

of those teams --- USC (10-0), Oklahoma (10-0) and Auburn (10-0) ---

have pulled away from the pack. Because only two teams can play in the

Orange Bowl for the BCS championship, if all three finish undefeated,

somebody is going to get left out.

So Sunday morning as I prepared to fill out my AP ballot, I decided

that the only fair thing to do was to pretend the preseason polls

never existed. On Nov. 14, each of the three teams should start with

an equal chance and be judged on their accomplishments to date.

When I did that, the ballot came out 1) Auburn; 2) Oklahoma; 3) USC.

Given where I live and work, the charge of regional bias naturally

follows. That's fine. But after spending Sunday morning doing the

research, here is the case for ranking the teams in that order:


> Seven wins in the SEC, only one (LSU, 10-9) by less than 18 points.

> Beat three teams --- LSU (5), Tennessee (10), and Georgia (8) --- that were

ranked in the Top 10 of the AP poll on the day of the game.

> Won its three SEC road games by 29, 24 and 21 points.

> Won its seven SEC games by an average of 20.43 points.

> After Saturday's 24-6 win over Georgia, Auburn now has the nation's best

scoring defense (9.3 ppg). Of the 93 points that Auburn has allowed this season,

67 have come with the Tigers leading by 20 or more points.

> In the first half of its 10 games, Auburn has outscored its opponents 194-26.

> And have you seen Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown? Does anybody else have

two backs like that?


> Won its seven Big 12 games by an average of 15 points.

> Very tough road wins at Oklahoma State (38-35) and Texas A&M (42-35). Had to

rally from behind in both of those games.

> Trailed Kansas State (4-6) 21-17 in the third quarter before winning 31-21.

> Trailed Texas A&M by 14 points three times. Led Oklahoma State 35-21 and had

to hold on to win 42-35.


> Won its seven conference games by an average of 23.3 points. Three wins,

however, were by 3, 6 and 8 points.

> Trailed a bad Stanford (4-6) team by 28-17 at halftime and had to rally to win


> Virginia Tech had USC down 10-7 and was driving to make it 17-7 when a

questionable call killed the drive. USC rallied to win 24-13.

> Trailed a bad Oregon State (5-5) team 13-0 before winning 28-20.

> Beat California 23-17, but the Bears ended the game on the USC 14-yard line. A

receiver slipped in the end zone for what would have been the winning score.

Granted, we are picking a lot of nits here, but something has to

separate the three teams.

Now one of these teams could make this entire exercise moot by losing

in the next three weeks, but I doubt it will happen.

Bottom line for me: A team that has gone 12-0 and won the SEC title

game has never been shut out of a chance to play for the national

championship. This is no time to start.


Associated Press Poll

1. Auburn..........10-0

2. Oklahoma........10-0

3. USC............ 10-0

4. California...... 8-1

5. Michigan........ 9-1

6. Utah............10-0

7. Texas............9-1

8. Louisville...... 7-1

9. Wisconsin........9-1

10. Boise State....10-0

11. Iowa............8-2

12. Tennessee...... 7-2

13. Georgia........ 8-2

14. Miami.......... 7-2

15. Florida State.. 8-2

16. Boston College..7-2

17. Virginia Tech.. 7-2

18. LSU............ 7-2

19. West Virginia.. 8-2

20. Arizona State.. 8-2

21. Virginia........7-2

22. Oklahoma State..7-3

23. Texas A&M...... 7-3

24. UTEP............7-2

25. Bowling Green.. 8-2

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can't really see regional bias there... he ranks only 4 sec teams, and only one in the top 10. i believe his ranking is lower for uga, ut, and lsu than the rest of the writers.

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Now he needs to contact the other 64 voters and tell them to put as much thought into their vote as he did his. Preseason polls are only done to sell magazines and give fans false hope for their teams chances every year. Who would have thought that they might cost us a shot at the NC.

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Yeah, USC should be #3. I don't understand why all the scrutiny is on OU and Auburn. The Pac-10 is the weakest conference of these three and USC hasn't even dominated it like they should have to be ranked #1.

Orange Bowl = OU + Auburn

That's my BCS formula.

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I hope you're right, but at this time, I certainly have my doubts.

I am sorta glad we are not #2 YET...it'll keep the boys hungry and focused...because they gotta do it again.

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