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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Public Information

The folks at Sports Illustrated saw fit to use the Freedom of Information Act to their advantage and compel coaches poll ballots from coaches at public schools. Jim Leavitt was one of the first to come forth with his, and it was met with its fair share of disdain.

First of all, it's a preseason poll, so any references to the validity or lack thereof is asinine. Everyone's undefeated right now, and unless you've got Western Kentucky as #1, there's not too far off base you can possibly be. But it brings forth an interesting dichotomy in the poll that I hadn't yet considered.

For starters, I thought for a while the ballots should be public, so as to prevent, or at least expose, any "hanky-panky", as Steve Spurrier so eloquently put it. I don't exactly agree with how it was done--I think SI's inquiry is more self-serving than it is strictly the pursuit of truth--but I think transparency is something that's needed for some accountability and, at the risk of entitlement, I feel the right to know as a fan. But one piece that I didn't consider came forth when Coach Leavitt revealed his ballot. It's not just us the public who see his ballot. He's got a locker room full of young men who want little more than to know their coach is going to bat for them each and every day. This puts a coach in a clearly unenviable position of trying to be truly objective while still having to face the men whose lives you're helping shape on Monday morning.

For better or worse, if public ballots become the norm, it's just one more thing that the coaches who vote and the young men who play will have to learn to deal with. But it certainly adds a whole new wrinkle to what I thought was an easy answer.
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