The AP's AU Voter: John Feinstein
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.
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