Say it ain't so, Lane!
Last week, Kiffin came under scrutiny after telling a reporter he wouldn't vote for USC No. 1 in the poll when, in fact, he did. Kiffin told USA Today reporter Brent Schrotenboer that the quote was misconstrued, but the damage had already been done and Kiffin's voting integrity was being questioned.
So, in a letter to USA Today and Grant Teaff, executive director of the American Football Coaches Association, Kiffin officially gave his first-ever vote in the poll.
"It is an opportunity and responsibility that I do not take lightly," Kiffin said. "However, I find it necessary to relinquish my voting status."
Kiffin did not elaborate on why he was giving up his vote.
Normally, all votes in the USA Today Coaches Poll are kept secret until the final ballot. However, USA Today reserves the right to publish the picks of a voter if he lies or publicly misconstrues his vote, which is what Kiffin did. USC spokesman Tim Tessalone took issue with this policy and released a statement on the university's behalf calling out journalist integrity.
"USA TODAY sent a June 4, 2012, letter to coaches who agreed to vote in its college football poll stating that, except for the final poll of the regular season, 'votes for all other polls will be kept confidential by USA TODAY.'
"The fact that the leadership of the American Football Coaches Association, which tasks USA TODAY to administer its poll, joined with the poll administrators from USA TODAY to decide to breach that confidentiality by providing to a reporter a coach's vote in its pre-season poll is disappointing and attacks the integrity of the poll. Further, that the reporter who was given this information represents the very organization that conducts the poll is a conflict of journalistic interest."
I said this in an earlier post and I'll say it again, I do believe Kiffin's quote, which was in response to hearing Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez had voted USC No. 1, was misconstrued and he explained as much.
"We have less players than everybody else," Kiffin said. "So looking at it from the outside, I wouldn't (vote USC No. 1). Did I? Yeah, I did. That's not based off of 75 vs. 85. That's based off of (USC players) Matt Barkley, T.J. McDonald and Robert Woods and Marqise Lee. When everybody has the same record, I can't go into a meeting with our players and have them say, 'You put that team and that team ahead of us.' That's why I did that."
He should not be ashamed of voting USC No. 1. He shouldn't be criticized for it. USC is one of the best teams in the country preseason, and 18 other coaches agreed with him. For him to either have to give up his vote or feel pressured to do so is ludicrous.
If there were any solidarity in coaching, Les Miles and Nick Saban would reveal their first-place vote as well. I think we'd see a similar pattern.
Yes, coaches typically vote for self-interest. This has been documented and it's the reason why the votes are made public at the end of the season. But in this particular situation, Kiffin's vote for self-interest was a vote for one of the best teams in the game right now. I don't think anyone should fault him for that.
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