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The AP's AU Voter: John Feinstein

Worth a vote? (AP Photo)

Remember when I posted the results of this week's Atlantic 11 Poll? And I pointed out that American got one vote in the AP poll, which I said was "beyond absurd for a 7-5 team that lost to Fairfield at home?"

And then unstoppable voter Jamie noted that CBS Sports's Gary Parrish had already mentioned this controversy, attributing the vote to our own John Feinstein and then savaging Feinstein thus:

The vote came from John Feinstein, of course. He once wrote a book about the Patriot League. He apparently enjoyed the effort so much that he can't help but to waste a vote on a member from time to time, but I'm guessing Stanford fans might be a little ticked off about it. See, had Feinstein given that vote to Stanford (worthy team) instead of American (unworthy team) the Cardinal would've moved from 132 points to 133 points and tied Rhode Island for 25th. As it is, Rhode Island is 25th by itself, Stanford is out of the poll and American is in the conversation for worst team to ever appear on an AP ballot in the history of organized basketball.

That John Feinstein is something, isn't he? Fabulous author. Terrible voter.

And then Jamie referred to Feinstein's WaPo column on the week in sports, in which Feinstein waxed a bit about the Turtles' waxing. Jamie also demanded "a big investigative piece for the Bog."

Well, Jamie, here ya go. Before I proceed, it's worth mentioning that I run a college basketball poll in which voters are encouraged to use their last place votes for things like mustaches and Redskins quarterbacks. So you could probably guess that I might sympathize with symbolic last-place votes. Also, not to suck up, but I still consider the year I got to watch the NCAA tournament selection show with Feinstein while eating pizza, crossing off team names on a hand-made bubble list and loudly attempting to show off my incredible knowledge of who was left out one of the highlights of my life.

Anyhow, our e-mail exchange and Feinstein's explanation are after the jump:

Steinberg: did you really vote for AU in the ap poll?

Feinstein: You bet pal. I use the 25th spot every week to try to give some recognition to a smaller school. I've voted so far this year for Harvard after they beat Michigan; for Holy Cross after they got to 7-1 (only loss to Dayton) and for Mason after their wins over Kansas State and South Carolina. (In truth that wasn't much of a stretch, but I was the first guy who started to vote for them back in '06). You'd be amazed how much it means to schools like that to get the one vote--so why not?

Steinberg: i'm all for recognizing smaller schools, but why not ohio? at least they have no bad losses. like, say, to fairfield at home.

my stupid local poll is mostly smaller schools, but we have VCU, mason, james madison, old dominion and UMBC all ahead of american, despite the MD win, because AU has losses to loyola, morgan state, UMBC, etc.

anyhow, it's not like the poll means anything, so i can't really complain.

Feinstein: You're certainly right that the poll ultimately means nothing, which is why I don't worry too much about giving someone a one-week nod at 25. Ohio doesn't really pass the little guy test to me--the MAC has been down for a few years but has had as many as three bids in the past. Usually I reserve the vote for teams from firm one-bid leagues--yes, the CAA got two the last two years but it had gone 20 years without a second bid till '06 and WAS a one bid league when I voted for Mason. You are right, overall, about some of those other schools but none has had a win as eye-opening as AU.

Steinberg: can't disagree with any of this, except a team like holy cross has been to the tournament three times in the past decade, and ohio's only been once i think. even if they come from a stronger league, that doesn't mean that a top 25 vote means less to them.

but AU's win was definitely the most eye opening, esp being on the road.

if you used half your ballot to reward such teams, would they eventually throw you out? just curious.

Feinstein: Have no idea what they'd do if I used half my ballot on teams like that--although they'd be JUSTIFIED to throw me out. If you look at ARV every week it is clear I'm no longer the only one doing this. [Sam Houston State] had THREE points last week I think. I do know that when I call in my ballot and one of the younger guys takes it (the older guys are so bored if I gave the AU WOMEN a vote they wouldn't notice) they always say things like, "so who gets your No. 25 this week"--and sometimes will campaign for a small school that's just pulled an upset. One kid, who was a Princeton grad, took it very hard a few years ago when I was giving Penn a vote when they were good.

Ok people, have at him, but no one who's ever given a 10th place vote to the Mary Washington women or Greivis Vasquez's beard is allowed to complain.

By Dan Steinberg  |  December 28, 2007; 10:29 AM ET
Categories:  College Basketball  
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AU receive a vote based on gallantry alone!

Posted by: sjf | December 28, 2007 10:47 AM | Report abuse

I think it's great that he does that. For a little school like American, they deserve some recognition nationally for what they did here. It was a major upset, even if Maryland's terrible this year.

Posted by: Ian | December 28, 2007 10:51 AM | Report abuse

It was a major upset but this is like Spurrier voting Duke as his 25 spot in football. Just stupid

Posted by: JDP | December 28, 2007 11:05 AM | Report abuse

AU better get it done tomorrow...

Posted by: Lindemann | December 28, 2007 11:05 AM | Report abuse

great stuff

Posted by: littles | December 28, 2007 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Junior Being Junior.

Too bad there was no segment on the radio this week with Feinstein and Knocke raving about American's win.

Posted by: odessasteps | December 28, 2007 11:46 AM | Report abuse

The problem with Feinstein is that he's not so much a journalist anymore, but a cheerleader. Which is fine, as long as you don't expect any objectivity.

Posted by: Jeff | December 28, 2007 12:04 PM | Report abuse

See, had Feinstein given that vote to Stanford (worthy team) instead of American (unworthy team) the Cardinal would've moved from 132 points to 133 points and tied Rhode Island for 25th.



Posted by: Unsilent Majority | December 28, 2007 12:11 PM | Report abuse

They might as well give Goofus and Gallant a vote in this thing.

Posted by: | December 28, 2007 12:17 PM | Report abuse

The NCAA men's basketball committee might not take gallantry into account, but I'm glad Junior does. Who needs Stanford and those big conferences when you can have the Patriot League!

Posted by: J. Jones | December 28, 2007 12:37 PM | Report abuse

the last line is the best, Vasquez is hilarious

Posted by: terpslax | December 28, 2007 12:56 PM | Report abuse

I really hope we can hang with Georgetown tomorrow. It will make Junior's vote all the more appropriate. There is plenty of coverage of the big guys. What's wrong with a shout out for the little guy once in awhile?

Posted by: Go Eagles | December 28, 2007 12:57 PM | Report abuse

thank you, Dan. this is the advantage of being a squeaky wheel during a slow sports news week. maybe the 10th/11th spot in the Bog poll should become known as the "Feinstein Slot" or something. or we could reserve that for the most egregious vote-getter of the week, like Howard or Coppin State this week.

and as much as don't really have a problem with his rationale, to continue the argument: Sam Houston St. is 10-0 with a victory over Texas Tech. there's also Southland compatriots Stephen F. Austin who are 9-1 and beat Oklahoma, or Texas-Arlington (8-2, win over Wichita St. - good year for the Southland!). or there's IUPUI (9-2, win over UMass, hung with Marquette).

also, Dan, if you can get me into this year's Selection Show pizza party, it would be a highlight of my life as well. right up there with meeting Donald Graham back in '99.

and btw, "Turtles' waxing" is a nice line. i'm disappointed in myself and my fellow voters for not coming up with a gag around that - "After losing to American, Terps were given their consolation prize: a year's supply of Turtle Wax" or something to that effect. but that's why you get paid the big bucks.

Posted by: jamie | December 28, 2007 1:02 PM | Report abuse

BTW, I'm very happy with Feinstein giving a vote to American if it means Stanford isn't ranked. Not ranking Stanford = good times.

Posted by: Lindemann | December 28, 2007 1:41 PM | Report abuse

I find Feinstein to be insufferable. It's pretty clear to me he values his role in sports far more than anyone else does.

That said, I give the man his due as an author. I always enjoy his books, although part of that is surely that his formula is one that will always appeal to me: Write a book about some sports thing. I don't think he's a great writer, but he's good at thoroughly reporting on something.

The one exception: "The Punch." I felt that writing a whole book on that was a bit much. What could have been covered in 50 pages or so was instead stretched to, according to, 384. I can't cite specific examples because I haven't read the book in a while, but I clearly remember thinking "wait, haven't we already covered this?" several times.

Posted by: Hayden Alfano | December 28, 2007 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Oh, also, go Eagles! Very proud alum here who wishes he was around to see the game or, for that matter, vote in the Local 11 poll this week (darn holiday season).

Posted by: Hayden Alfano | December 28, 2007 2:32 PM | Report abuse

God Bless you Feinstein!

If Stanford is really deserving of a 25 finish, they'll have PLENTY of opportunities to prove it. This was the little guys chance to shine, and no matter how well they play in the rest of the regular season, they still won't get another crack at the poll. (Deserving or Not)

Posted by: Hugh Akston | December 28, 2007 2:46 PM | Report abuse

I'd vote for Hayden Panatierre's bikini!

Posted by: WaPoLiveFan16 | December 28, 2007 3:08 PM | Report abuse

It's locally official: George Mason BB > Maryland BB.
(Hey, I never said my post would be objective.)

Posted by: Arlington Pimp | December 28, 2007 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Good to see AU fans coming out of the woodwork... it would be nice if some of you showed up to the games too...

I'll be at the Phone Booth tomorrow to watch the upset of the year.

Really though, why does anyone care if he used his 25 vote on American? The polls are a joke for the most part anyway.

Posted by: KC in DC | December 28, 2007 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Like Greivis Vasquez's beard would lose to Fairfield.

Posted by: Eddie C | December 28, 2007 6:07 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, but Spurrier only does it at the beginning of the season, letting Duke prove otherwise during the season, unfortunately pretty much always (okay, always always) to their detriment. To do so after you know better can't even be defended on theoretical grounds.


Posted by: Anonymous | December 28, 2007 10:32 PM | Report abuse

The poll doesn't matter at all. It's for the fans and Vegas. If it were college football, somebody may deserve to be taken behind the shed though.

Posted by: sitruc | December 28, 2007 11:39 PM | Report abuse

Feinstein is a fool and a self-rightous blowhard. Not because of this, but because of his continued idiotic comments on the fake Duke Lacrosse rape accusations.

Posted by: KMan | December 29, 2007 12:24 AM | Report abuse

Even if Feinstein wanted to recognize a team from a small/one-bid league with his 25th vote, I just don't know why American deserves that recognition for beating a bad team from one of the big 6 conferences.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 29, 2007 4:48 PM | Report abuse

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