Duke’s Coach Has Simultaneous Stroke Of Brilliance And Stupidity

Every so often coaches make the mistake of addressing the media outside of the context of having just played in a game. One Florida assistance called Nick Saban the devil himeself. The Vanderbilt coach called him the same thing a few months ago. Generally coaches aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed, hired instead to coach football players, not run the PR for the team. Duke’s David Cutcliffe is the latest coach to make what I think should be a bigger headline.

Now to be fair, the ACC rotates which coach is acting as league coaches chair, and it just happens to be his turn and it just happens to be the end of a bunch of spring meetings of the coaches. So he kind of had to address the media regarding what was discussed. And he did so brilliantly and stupidly.

First the brilliant part, and this is in the context of selecting the four playoff teams:

“But the biggest item for us is the criteria of selecting those four teams. We want our coaches’ poll to matter. In another sense, all the coaches have a vote on the committee, and we think that’s good for the game for the coaches to be good stewards of who’s in that national championship picture. All of us having a vote, the vote becoming transparent and the vote being conscientiously done.”

Bravo I say! What on earth was the point of having only half the coaches vote in the poll in the first place? Makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. There are only 120 of them. I mean, if there were 500 I could understand taking a representative sample. That’s a lot of data to process otherwise. But 120? Gosh, seems like it’s not that tough to process a vote from each coach.

I also love the part about transparency. Make sure every coaches vote is posted for all to see and scrutinize. Don’t make it accessible to only journalists. Don’t make them anonymous. Make every coach show exactly how they voted each week. That will balance the bias. If every coach is biased to their league, then there’s no bias at all ultimately…except that some leagues have 10 teams while others have 14. But that’s ok. It’s the best we can do.

Unfortunately, Cutcliffe should have stopped there but didn’t. Here’s what he went on to say immediately after:

“We think we’re qualified. We’re not watching every game on the East Coast, on the West Coast, but no one else is, either. We see a lot of film of a lot of people. We know who’s good, and who’s best — maybe moreso than anybody else is looking at the game.”

The coaches know who is best moreso than anybody else looking at the game? He can’t be serious. He can’t be. There’s no way. Need I list the examples? How about their final poll where Georgia (finished with two losses) is ranked No. 4 and South Carolina (finished with two losses) is ranked No. 7. Did the coaches forget the 35-7 beatdown South Carolina put on Georgia? One of those teams is CLEARLY better than the other. Hint: it’s not Georgia.

And didn’t two loss Florida beat two loss Texas A&M on the road? How did Florid finish 6 spots behind the Aggies exactly? Yeah, the coaches sure are qualified to pick “the best” out there. I suppose if their criteria is watching “a lot of film of a lot of people” then sure, judging on film they can probably pick the best. But the best teams should be determined by how they play on the field and the results of their games, not just how well they can run or break up a play.

I sure hope the coaches poll switches and gets a transparent vote from all the coaches. And I think their poll should matter, just as much as it does now. The BCS rating system should continue with the exception of the dropping of highest and lowest computer ranking. All should be taken. And the top two teams in the BCS rankings should automatically be in the playoff, with the coaches poll contributing to that as it does now. But a selection committee should choose the other two, and that committee should obviously be the men of the square table.