Thu, Dec 09, 2004 - Page 20 News List

Cal feels slighted after being passed over for Rose Bowl

NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , NEW YORK

Although Pac-10 Conference Commissioner Tom Hansen questioned the integrity of the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll, the president of a coaching group said Tuesday that the coaches would not make their votes public.

"It's not going to take place," said Grant Teaff, the president of the American Football Coaches Association. "It's not going to happen."

Cal (10-1) is ranked fourth in the AP news media poll and in the coaches poll, but according to USA Today, Cal was ranked seventh by four coaches and eighth by two others after its 26-16 victory at Southern Mississippi last Saturday. The previous week, none of the 61 coaches who vote ranked Cal lower than sixth.

Cal, which had been fourth in the Bowl Championship Series ranking, fell to fifth behind idle Texas in the final BCS ranking, losing out on its first Rose Bowl appearance in 46 years. Texas will play Michigan in the Rose Bowl and Cal will face Texas Tech in the Holiday Bowl. It is unclear whether the six voters cost Cal a Rose Bowl bid, but Hansen said they were a factor.

"I have called out the AFCA to reveal those six votes," Hansen said. "There is no reason in the world for anyone to rank Cal below sixth. It's just wrong, and if they don't reveal who voted that way, it calls the integrity of the poll into question."

Teaff said he understood why Hansen was critical of the coaches poll, but he said the AFCA had not made its votes public for 54 years and was not going to start now.

"We are not just going to pick out six guys and say who they voted for," Teaff said. "The AFCA works at the will of the coaches, and they don't want that."

The Big 12 Conference will receive US$4.5 million because Texas is appearing in the Rose Bowl. The Holiday Bowl payout is US$2 million. Some Pac-10 officials and Cal fans have pointed out that Texas coach Mack Brown, who has been lobbying for votes for a month, and other Big 12 coaches had a financial incentive to vote Texas above Cal. Brown and his brother, Watson, the Alabama-Birmingham coach, are also voters.

"Lobbying had an effect, no question," Hansen said. "It started a trend in the last three polls. Three weeks ago, Cal beat Stanford by 35 points and Texas did not play and Texas gained on Cal."

Teaff disagreed. "I can assure Mr. Hansen that there is no conspiracy; we have due diligence," he said.

Cal's drop to eighth on the two coaches' ballots did not raise a red flag for the AFCA because it was less than a four-spot drop. "A swing of four or more would raise a red flag, so no eyebrows were raised," Teaff said. "A red flag has only gone up four times in 10 years, and twice it was because the coach simply forgot a team and left them off."

The AFCA has refused to release its ballots during the season for competitive reasons; coaches are leery of giving opponents bulletin-board material. Last February, the AFCA voted by 80-29 not to reveal coaches' votes, Teaff said. Last month, Teaff was approached by some members of the news media about releasing the final coaches poll. The coaches who vote in the poll opposed the suggestion, 32-29. The AFCA agreed to discuss the matter again next month. "If they have nothing to hide, they should be courageous enough to say they voted that way and explain to the Cal football players why," Hansen said.

Cal coach Jeff Tedford, who had his quarterback take a knee late in the game against Southern Miss rather than try to run up the score, agreed that his team needed closure.

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