For anyone who questions whether voters in the coaches poll get political with their ballots when BCS bowl berths _ and dollars _ are on the line, just check out today’s ballots, released by USA Today.
Oklahoma (10-2) is eligible to earn an at-large berth in the BCS later tonight, but only if Northern Illinois (12-1), the MAC champion, does not climb to 16th or higher in the final BCS standings. If Northern Illinois makes it to No. 16, Oklahoma is out of a possible berth in the Sugar Bowl and headed to the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic. Today's coaches poll is part of the formula that sets the final BCS standings.
If Oklahoma does not wind up in the Sugar Bowl, the omission would cost the Big 12 a $6.2 million windfall for landing an at-large team in the BCS mix along with Kansas State, which earned the Big 12’s automatic berth as the league champion.
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops did his part to help his team, voting the Sooners at No. 6 and Northern Illinois at No. 24 in today’s final coaches poll. Northern Illinois coach Dave Doeren, by comparison, voted Oklahoma 11th and his team at No. 14.
Other Big 12 coaches joined Stoops in voting up the Sooners and voting down Northern Illinois. Baylor coach Art Briles played Oklahoma at No. 6 and Northern Illinois at No. 19 on his ballot. West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen had OU at No. 9, with Northern Illinois at No. 24. The ballot of Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville mirrored where both teams finished in today’s coaches’ poll: OU at No. 11 and Northern Illinois at No. 16.
Kent State coach Darrell Hazel, whose team lost to Northern Illinios in the MAC title game, voted Oklahoma at No. 11 and Northern Illinois at No. 17 on his ballot.
Below is a loot at today’s coaches ballots, released by USA Today:
_ Jimmy Burch