Digging into the coaches' top 25 votes

The USA Today coaches' top 25 poll is private all season, until the final week. Every year, the final ballot is made public. Last year, Missouri coach Gary Pinkel made waves by voting Oklahoma State No. 4, instead of No. 3, which would possibly give Alabama the edge in the BCS race with Oklahoma State for the right to play LSU for the title.

So, what happened this year? Half the nation's coaches have a vote, and it rotates each year. I'll go through this starting with the Big 12 coaches' individual ballots, and then we'll look at how each Big 12 team looked on various coaches' ballots. You can see all the ballots in their entirety with this great graph from USA Today.

Let's get started:

Art Briles, Baylor

  • Briles had Oklahoma very high, at No. 6. He also voted Kansas State at No. 4. The Sooners finished No. 11 in the coaches poll, and K-State was at No. 6. Only two other coaches (You might recognize them, we'll touch on it later) had Oklahoma at No. 6.

  • Most coaches typically do have teams in their league higher than others, but aside from that, not much else about Briles' ballot was notable.

Paul Rhoads, Iowa State

  • Rhoads was the second voter who had Oklahoma at No. 6, joining Briles in voting OU higher than any other voter. We'll talk about the third and final voter to do so later.

  • He cast his vote for K-State at No. 3, behind national title participants Notre Dame and Alabama at No. 1 and No. 2.

  • Rhoads threw Texas a bone, but he was one of just two Big 12 coaches of the five voters to do so. He had the Longhorns at No. 22.

Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia

  • Holgorsen slotted K-State at No. 4 and Oklahoma at No. 9. He also included Texas at No. 25. He also gave his old friends in the C-USA, league champion Tulsa, a nod at No. 22. Only one coach had the Golden Hurricane higher. They finished at No. 29 in receiving votes.

Bob Stoops, Oklahoma

  • Stoops had his Sooners at No. 6, joining Briles and Rhoads as the voters who had Oklahoma higher than anyone. Stoops also clearly knew what was going on with Northern Illinois, voting NIU at No. 24, lower than all but one voter in the entire poll. Only one other voter among the 59 had NIU at 24th or lower.

  • Stoops also slotted K-State at No. 3, and didn't include Texas on his ballot.

Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech

  • He was the only Big 12 coach to put Alabama at No. 1 instead of undefeated Notre Dame, who the Tide will face in the national title game.

  • He had Oklahoma down at No. 11, right where the Sooners finished in the poll. He also had K-State at No. 7, the only Big 12 coach to place the Wildcats below where they finished, at No. 6. Tuberville also left No. 25 Texas off his ballot.

All in all, mostly decent ballots from the Big 12 coaches. So, how did the Big 12 teams receiving votes do?


  • We mentioned those two Big 12 coaches that had K-State at No. 3, but they were joined by a third. It won't surprise you. It's Miami coach Al Golden, whose Hurricanes lost in Manhattan in September, 52-13.

  • Fresno State's Tim DeRuyter (DC at Texas A&M last season) and Vanderbilt coach James Franklin had Kansas State all the way down at No. 9, but Kentucky coach Joker Phillips was all alone with the Wildcats at No. 11. Ouch.

  • Franklin, however, did have three SEC teams ahead of Notre Dame on his ballot.


  • You already heard about the three coaches (all from the Big 12, and only the Big 12) that had Oklahoma at No. 6.

  • Not a single coach had OU at No. 7, but Michigan State's Mark Dantonio had the Sooners at No. 8. No other coach had the Sooners below 13.


  • Brady Hoke of Michigan and Kent State's Darrell Hazell love them some Longhorns. Both had No. 25 Texas at No. 16, despite the two losses to close the season and an 8-4 record. Only two other coaches (Jim Grobe, Wake Forest; Mike Riley, Oregon State) had Texas higher than No. 21. It would seem the Horns have not convinced many in the Big 12 that they're world-beaters.

  • Texas appeared on 27 of 59 ballots.

No other Big 12 teams received votes.