Weekend Whimsy: 'INTEGRITY' OF THE 'COACHES'' POLL - Sports Illustrated


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Lane Kiffin, seen here pondering the ineffable integrity of the Coaches' Poll. Probably. (AP)

Lane Kiffin

Lovingly curated light reading to speed you through to the weekend:

There are a couple things happening in Los Angeles right now that we're going to sort of mash together here. See if you can keep up, because both tales are of vital importance to your very existence.

• The part where Jim Mora is all "LOL USC is full of murders" and then has to act like he's sorry he said that. So UCLA's new head ballcoach tried the white salmon trick on the radio, at the expense of his crosstown rivals. Here we have to go straight to excerpting the L.A. Times story on the matter because we don't want you to miss a word:

Mora, discussing recruiting on the Roger Lodge radio show, said he makes a point to tell parents how safe it is at UCLA, noting, “We don’t have murders a block from our campus.”

The murder of two Chinese graduate students near the USC campus in April became international news. But Mora said Thursday that he was speaking only about the UCLA campus. “I just said our campus is safe,” Mora said. “I didn’t say anything about anyone else’s campus. I just said it about our campus. I didn’t mention another campus. We don’t have anybody getting murdered a block off of our campus.

“If anybody, whether USC or Cal State San Bernardino, is offended by the statement, then that’s their insecurity, not mine.”

Mora later delivered something at least remotely resembling an apology, although we are not precisely sure why he bothered. If you're the guy who's OK insinuating to parents that their sons might be murdered if they sign with the Trojans, and then bring up that recruiting tactic on live radio, at least stick the landing. Own that. (It's also worth noting that we are absolutely certain this kind of gambit is employed in recruiting all over the country -- but that you don't hear those guys bringing it up on the radio. Ten points from Hufflepuff, J-Mo.) And, more importantly for internetting purposes, why on earth would you leave yourself open to the obvious and scathing retort?

• The part where THE INTEGRITY OF THE COACHES' POLL, which we are apparently still accepting as a real thing, is at stake. So Lane Kiffin says he wouldn't hand USC the top spot with "his" vote in the Coaches' Poll, only "he" did, and we keep putting the pronouns here in quotes because we remain unconvinced the Coaches' Poll is voted on by any coaches at all. USA Today revealed Kiffin's choice, and gave its reasoning as follows:

Each coach's vote normally is kept confidential until the final vote of the regular season under an agreement between USA TODAY Sports and the American Football Coaches Association. However, when a voter volunteers false or misleading information about his vote in public, then USA TODAY Sports, in its oversight role as administrator of the poll, will set the record straight to protect the poll's integrity.


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.

How so many people typed INTEGRITY OF THE POLL without dying on the spot of ceaseless, innards-rending laughter is beyond our capacity to imagine. Just to put a bow on things, here's our pal and former editor Matt Hinton with the dagger stroke: "That's right: The integrity of a secret poll in which self-interested coaches not only routinely allow surrogates to cast votes in their place, but have also been consistentlyempirically proven to return biased results that favor their own teams, is threatened by a conflict of interest… in journalism."

"Johnelle kicks ass"

"Mike Leach bobblehead."