ANN ARBOR - Earlier this week, Michigan coach Brady Hoke was asked about the USA Today Coaches Poll. USA Today released the final iteration of the top 25 - as voted on by the Division I football coaches - Sunday, and Michigan finished 22nd.
Furthermore, USA Today released how the coaches voted, illustrated on a handy interactive grid. And Michigan coach Brady Hoke voted his team 15th in the weekly poll - ahead of teams such as Nebraska (18th on his ballot) and Wisconsin (22nd on his ballot).
“I think we’re a good team," Hoke said. "You look at the opponents that we played, compared to other schedules that are out there. It would be easy to play a lesser schedule, but I think this has helped us grow as a program and as a team.”
Would Hoke have voted differently if the polls weren't made public?
"I think you vote your conscience," Hoke said. I don’t know if I would have voted any differently than I did.”
While Hoke was diplomatic in discussing the coaches poll, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier - whose team will face the Wolverines on Jan. 1 in the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla. - was a bit more frank when discussing the coaches poll. OK, a lot more frank. He even cited political correctness as a factor in firming up his poll. From the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier:
“There’s a little bit of a tough call, because you have to be politically correct, as we know, when they put your name on your ballot," Spurrier said. "So I tried to be politically correct. If it was anonymous, I would have changed it a little bit, to be honest with you. I would have put some different teams here there or the other."
“When I’m going to read USA Today tomorrow, I’m going to see where all those other SEC coaches put us. And they’re going to look and see where I put them. So that’s just the way life is. When it’s public knowledge, well gosh, you’ve got to put them here, them here. I would have done it differently if I hadn’t put my name on it. That’s just being honest.”
On that note, Vanderbilt coach James Franklin has taken some heat for ranking Notre Dame fourth on his ballot - behind Alabama, Georgia and Florida.
"This is what you have to understand: it's an opinion," Franklin told USA Today and the Nashville Tennessean. "But it's an educated opinion. I've coached in the ACC. I've coached in the Big 12. I've coached in the Pac-10. I've coached in the SEC. I've coached in the NFL. So I think I have a pretty good understanding of what these conferences are like and what our conference is like.
Also worth noting, verbatim from the USA Today/Tennessean story:
Franklin said the same format was employed in filling out his ballot that he has always used. Mike Hazel, his director of football operations, fills out the ballot and then gives it to him for approval and changes before it is sent to USA TODAY. Franklin was quick to note that the decision to rank Notre Dame fourth was his call.