Lane Kiffin made the news recently with a controversy revolving around the USA Today Coaches’ Poll. Kiffin told reporters that he would certainly not vote USC No. 1 in response to a question about Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez telling reporters that he had voted the Trojans in the top spot. USA Today found Kiffin’s statements to harm the “integrity” of the poll and revealed that the USC head coach had in fact voted his team number one, against standard practice. Kiffin and USC responded that USA Today had been the ones to damage the “integrity” of the coaches’ poll by making his vote public, and Kiffin announced that he would be withdrawing from participating in the poll going forward. Whether it was a noble stand on Kiffin’s part or simply a man being too proud to admit that he’d been dishonest, the controversial coach has the support of one very important backer: Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott.
In an interview with 710-ESPN‘s “Mason and Ireland Show,” in Los Angeles, Scott responded to a question about Kiffin dropping his role with the coaches’ poll with some less than supportive observations on the state of the poll.
“I think it’s an unfair position to put the coaches in, to supposedly vote objectively when they’ve got a very natural conflict of interest, No. 1, and, No. 2, I think most coaches are focused on their own games — let alone breaking down tape afterwards and all that. So to expect that coaches could have a good, balanced, well-researched perspective on who the best teams are in any given week is a fallacy.”
“I’m not surprised Lane didn’t want to be part of it anymore. I don’t think any coaches should be in that position, and they won’t be, starting in 2014.”
In short, Scott thinks the whole notion of coaches voting on who plays for the national championship is a great big joke. And he’s not alone.
It’s long been common knowledge that the process coaches go through when voting is less than thorough. Reports of assistants being handed the responsibility, coaches voting for their own teams over others to improve their own ranking while also voting down their closest rivals to hurt their ranking, and coaches admitting to watching almost none of the teams they vote for are all too common. The so-called “integrity” that got talked about a whole bunch with Lane Kiffin’s feud with USA Today went missing long before Kiffin was disingenuous about who he voted for.
Larry Scott agrees. Luckily for him, and for all of us, the coaches won’t be asked to take on such a large role in the crowning of a national champion with the beginning of the playoff system in 2014. While it likely won’t keep Kiffin from getting into trouble with his mouth, at least he won’t have to worry about where he votes his own team going forward or getting into any more terse discussions about “integrity.” At least he can rest assured, in this case, that his commissioner feels the same way.
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