Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Poll Dancing?

by Tom Byrne

I read Bill’s entry on “The Great Komissaroff Poll Scandal of 2006” and feel obliged to chime in with my own two cents.I’ll start by telling you that I do NOT agree with Bill voting New Hampshire number one this week.

I am a little concerned about the possibility this faux pas by the K-Man will provide bulletin board material for JMU when it plays the Blue Hens in a couple of weeks. Can you imagine the scene in the Dukes locker room:

JMU coach Mickey Matthews: "Boys, we need to show that Bill Komissaroff what JMU football is all about!!!!!"

Players: "Yeah!!!! Wait, who?"

I’m sure the UD radio crew will need a police escort to get in and out Bridgeforth Stadium on November 4th.But I digress.Bill is right on a couple of counts and I figured he could use a little back up.First, he should not have been “outed” by ‘The Sports Network’s” Matt Dougherty. I know there has been a push for more transparency in polls, by listing who’s voting, or actually telling you how someone voted (remember earlier this year when Jim Tressel told the media that he voted Texas #1 in the USA Today coaches’ poll, but the paper revealed he actually voted for Ohio State.), but unless the voters agree to that level of transparency beforehand, they should be left alone.

Dougherty could have called Bill first, said there were media inquiries about his vote, and asked if he was willing to address them.Bill is also right that the polls are very arbitrary. And not just because voters can’t possibly see all the teams they are evaluating, or because of what Bill called the “carry-over’ effect at the start of the season, or because of “reputation” votes. There is also who votes. I do not vote in the “Sports Network” I-AA poll, despite my tenure as DSU’s play-by-play voice (until 3 years ago) while covering Delaware. You would think that would make me an “ideal” voter, with knowledge of two conferences. Nope. But oddly, I DO vote for things like the Heisman Trophy and the Maxwell Award. Make any sense to you?As an aside: I am not angling for a vote in the Sports Network poll. I have enough to do already, including my research on this year’s Heisman favorites.

Then, there are the coaches’ polls. Most coaches do not vote themselves, leaving it to an assistant or Sports Information director. Which, of course, defeats the purpose of having a coaches’ poll, where the premise is the voters are REALLY plugged in and know what they’re talking about.You get the picture.

So, enjoy checking out the polls each week. I’ll continue reporting on them, because they are nice fillers and conversation starters. But, keep it in perspective. Things usually come out in the wash on the field.Meanwhile, I’ve got to make sure I’m not rooming with Bill on the JMU trip.
Tom Byrne is a Sports Anchor for WHYY-TV, Sports Director of WILM Newsradio, and Sideline Reporter on University of Delaware Football Broadcasts on The River 94.7

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