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September 9, 2009 3:17 AM

BYU should be No. 1 -- period

By LES EAST

If the people voting in the coaches poll were interested in rewarding performance on the football field, their rankings would look much different than they do.

As I’ve written before – and, like it or not, will write again – the coaches poll – one-third of the formula used to determine who gets to play for the BCS championship – is hopelessly tainted by preseason polls.

Each subsequent poll, beginning with the one released Tuesday after the first weekend of play, is merely a tweaking of worthless preseason expectations rather than a fair-minded evaluation of performance and performance only.

If voters had watched the first weekend of games with an open mind, their rankings would look something like this:

1.BYU – Come on, no one can match the Cougars’ performance against the preseason No. 3. Don’t diminish what they did because of Sam Bradford’s injury; they played the Sooners toe-to-toe for the near half that Bradford was in the game. Let’s not overlook the fact that OU’s rebuilt offensive line clearly demonstrated that the No. 3 ranking was way too lofty. Let’s deal with what teams are at the time we vote, not what we thought they would be, or what we expect they’ll be in three months. The voters have BYU ninth. Might voters from BCS leagues, concerned that OU represented the most serious threat to an undefeated Cougars season (even though they have several other tough opponents), might have an incentive to hold back the team from a non-BCS league. I’m just sayin’.

2.Alabama – The Crimson Tide, ranked fourth, played outstanding defense and showed a lot of heart while rallying around a first-time starter at quarterback who grew up quite a bit in the span of four quarters to beat Virginia Tech in as good an opening-week game as you’ll see.

3.Oklahoma State – The Cowboys, ranked fifth, showed that they might be able to play a little defense after all in shutting down Georgia, though the Bulldogs’ offense is a work in progress.

4. Missouri – The Tigers, despite losing numerous key players from last year’s very talented team, dismantled a very talented Illinois team, but are ranked just 25th.

5.Miami – The Hurricanes, ranked 20th, showed some guts in rallying on the road in the fourth quarter to edge their bitter rival, Florida State.

6.California – The Bears, ranked 10th, looked good on both sides of the ball in dismantling an admittedly flawed Maryland team.

7.Cincinnati – Bearcats, ranked 23rd, went on the road and dismantled a solid Rutgers program.

8. Boise State – The Broncos, ranked 12th, continued to show their more of a defense-oriented group than the one that used a lot of memorable gimmicks against the Sooners a few years ago.

After this you start running into powerhouses who beat up on teams that weren’t in their league.

I understand Florida, the defending national champion, being No. 1, but it’s still not right. This year is this year, and these Gators will have plenty of opportunities to prove themselves against better challengers than Charlestown Southern. (The same is basically true of Texas, USC, Ole Miss, and Penn State).

Finally, how can we continue to live with a system in which Ohio State’s four-point victory against Navy (the Buckeyes are No. 8) is valued more than BYU’s upset of last year’s national runner-up?

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