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Leavitt explains his Top 25 ballot

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

South Florida coach Jim Leavitt was the first one to reveal his Top 25 ballot after Sports Illustrated filed open records requests seeking them. Leavitt has taken some grief on the Internet for some of his choices, including ranking Oklahoma No. 1 and his own Bulls 18th.

Leavitt talked about his voting process after practice last night, and you can watch the video of the interview here. Here are a few highlights:

On putting the Bulls' 18th, much higher than their actual rank:
"If you don't vote your team up high, then your team doesn't think much of you. I think they're a pretty good team, so I think we've got a chance to do some good things. ... I think most coaches out there know it's the preseason. Until you play, you don't really know how good teams are, so you take an estimated guess.

"I apologized to the team that I didn't put 'em up higher. They were on me about it. They said 'Coach, 18? C'mon.' I said 'I'm sorry. I apologize.' I like that attitude. They want to win and they expect to win. The bottom line is what you do on the field."On picking Oklahoma over Florida for No. 1:
"The SEC's tough. I think it's probably one of the tougher conferences out there in the country. To go through that and to become a national champion two years in a row, that's a lot of pressure on Florida. That was the only thing -- when you're the guy, trying to repeat as national champions, that's asking an awful lot. ... I did pick Florida No. 2. It's not like I put them down at the bottom. ... Do I give it to OU because I know Bob [Stoops] so well? No, I try to stay away from that, but I don't think anybody will believe me."There is really no right or wrong in a preseason ballot -- who's to say the Bulls won't be a Top 25-team this year? -- so this is more amusing than anything else. If Leavitt were to continue voting much differently than anyone else after the actual results come in, then he would have some real explaining to do.