The first People’s Republic of Coaches secret ballot is out. What we're supposed to learn from it:
1. SEC fan must be throwing himself off various barbeque shacks in the South after learning the crushing news: The world’s best conference has only five teams in the first poll. Condolences, the world is gaining on you SEC. The Big 12, ACC and Pac-10 are tied for second with four teams each.
2. First you have to be ranked. That’s another way of saying Boise State is the early favorite to grab its second BCS bowl. The Broncos go in as the highest-ranked non-BCS school (No. 16) followed by No. 17 TCU, No. 18 Utah and No. 24 BYU.
There is hope. Utah was unranked at the beginning of 2008 before going undefeated.
3. The Big East got skunked. Not only did the Big East not have a ranked team, you have to look all the way down to the team with the 29th-most votes to find the league. Cincinnati is followed, in order, by Pittsburgh (30), West Virginia (31) and Rutgers (32).
How embarrassing is this? In the last three years, the Big East has had a team ranked in the top 10 in the preseason. West Virginia started there in 2006 (No. 7), 2007 (No. 6) and 2008 (No. 8). Two teams were ranked last season (South Florida and West Virginia) and three teams were ranked in 2007 (West Virginia, Louisville and Rutgers).
4. The SEC West is strong. Ole Miss is No. 10 which means, according to the poll, it is only the third-best team in the West. Alabama is No. 4 and LSU is No. 9.
5. I’m a little bit surprised that Kansas isn’t ranked. The Jayhawks are favored by many to win the Big 12 North. The Jayhawks get No. 22 Nebraska at home and return the best pair of returning receivers in the country – Dezmon Briscoe and Kerry Meier. KU started just out of the top 25 with the 26th-most votes.
6. Only in the coaches’ poll. Voters can vote for themselves No. 1 before they’ve played a game, but they can’t (or are encouraged not to) vote for their teams No. 1 in the final poll unless their team wins the BCS title game.
7. It’s murkier and more secret next year. In 2010, coaches will go back to keeping secret their final ballots. As I’ve written, BCS commissioners are going to try to convince the coaches to change their stance – or possibly be kicked out of the BCS.
Would love to know who didn't vote Florida No. 1 (the Gators got 53 of the 59 first-place votes), but it's a secret.