News from the Tennessee Valley Sports


Quirky list of voters for new football poll

No, Wimp and Sonny don't have a vote, too.

Harris Interactive released the panel for the new college football poll, and it includes several curious choices, such as former UAB basketball coach and athletics director Gene Bartow.

A couple of other former hoops coaches, Wimp Sanderson of Alabama and Sonny Smith of Auburn, aren't part of the panel, and neither is one of their well-qualified co-workers at Birmingham's WJOX-AM — former Alabama quarterback Jay Barker, a morning sports talk show host at the station.

The Harris Interactive College Football Poll will play a large role this year, since it replaces The Associated Press in the Bowl Championship Series formula.

The AP asked the BCS to stop using its poll after last season. The Harris poll will count for one-third of a team's points in the BCS standings, while the USA Today coaches poll will count for a third and a collection of computer rankings counting for the remaining third.

The Harris poll will include 114 voters, with former coaches, players, administrators and media making up the group. Harris Interactive Inc., a marketing firm hired by the BCS, selected the panel out of nominations provided by Division I-A schools. The first Harris poll won't come out until Sept. 25, and the first BCS standings won't be released until Oct. 17.

Also on the panel are former Auburn athletics directors Mike Lude and David Housel and former Alabama athletics director Glenn Tuckett, most famous in Tide circles for then-giving basketball coach David Hobbs a five-year contract extension. Tuckett left the school soon after that, and Tuckett's successor, Bob Bockrath, fired Hobbs two years later.

Bockrath doesn't have a vote, but former Southeastern Conference commissioner Roy Kramer does. Another former SEC commissioner, Harvey Schiller, made the cut, too.

So did Chuck Neinas, a former commissioner of the Big Eight Conference and now president of Neinas Sports Services, a consulting firm. He's a headhunter who placed coaches and athletic directors at interested schools. By the way, he's the one who put together the Dennis Franchione-to-Texas A&M deal.

Former Alabama senior associate athletics director Steve Townsend, who has written two books about Crimson Tide football, has landed a vote in the poll.

The Harris poll chose a good one in Ray Melick, an afternoon talk show host at WJOX-AM and a Birmingham Post-Herald sports columnist.

But Cleveland sports talk show host Kenny Roda also has a vote. Check his Web site, and you'll see different links for Browns football, Cavaliers basketball, Ohio State sports, Indians baseball and "hotties." Apparently, "hotties" are important to him. Maybe that earned him his vote. Who knows?

Whit Taylor, a Vanderbilt quarterback in the 1980s, made the list. So did former coach Lou Holtz, most recently of South Carolina.

The list of former coaches also includes Spike Dykes (Texas Tech), Dick Sheridan (North Carolina State), Bump Elliott (Michigan), John Mackovic (Illinois and Texas), George Perles (Michigan State), Bill Dooley (Virginia Tech and Wake Forest) and Bill Yeoman (Houston).

Gerry DiNardo made the list after having losing college teams at Vanderbilt, LSU and Indiana and the old XFL with the Birmingham Thunderbolts. So if anybody needs to know about bad teams, he's your guy.

Another former Indiana coach, John Pont, made the list, giving the Hoosiers two more former coaches on the panel than Alabama and Auburn combined. Tennessee has one — Bill Battle, a former Crimson Tide player. Alabama will honor Battle at its season opener Sept. 3 as a recipient of the 2005 Paul W. Bryant Alumni-Athlete Award.

The list of players includes Rocket Ismail of Notre Dame, Lee Roy Selmon of Oklahoma, Anthony Munoz of Southern California. Former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback and current broadcaster Terry Bradshaw has a vote, although he shouldn't gotten left out simply for those cell-phone commercials that make you feel like somebody's drilling in your brain every time they come on the television.

But, hey, this collection can't do any worse than what we've already seen from the AP and USA Today polls.

Mark Edwards Mark Edwards
DAILY Sports Editor

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