Ohio State's Tressel won't vote in coaches poll

Updated: December 3, 2006, 10:17 PM ET
Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State's Jim Tressel did not vote in this week's USA Today coaches' poll to avoid the perception of a conflict of interest, a move the newspaper said could jeopardize his future in the selection process.

"We are disappointed with coach Tressel's decision, but our oversight role does not grant us authority to compel his participation," USA Today's managing editor for sports Monte Lorell said Sunday in a statement. "The agreement with the American Football Coaches Association obligates the panel of coaches to disclose final regular season ballots, without exception.

"Coach Tressel's future involvement in the poll will be part of our annual review with AFCA executive director Grant Teaff."

Told that USA Today was unhappy with him on Sunday night, Tressel acted surprised.

"Maybe they'll fire me as a pollster," he said, half joking.

Tressel said he didn't feel right putting Ohio State in the middle of the decision of who the Buckeyes are supposed to play for the national title.

"I have so much respect for both Michigan and Florida," he said. "Obviously there are only two teams that had a shot at playing us in the national championship game. I didn't think it was appropriate that Ohio State would cast a ballot one way or the other. Those are two great teams and we would relish to play either, but I didn't think it was appropriate for us to participate in something like that."

Michigan coach Lloyd Carr, a member of the coaches poll, said there was no scenario in which he would choose not to vote. On Tressel's abstention, Carr said: "I thought it was real slick."

Teaff, a former coach, said Tressel's decision was "not something that we would like to have happen, but it's kind of an unusual circumstance."

Until last year, the coaches' ballots were not made public. Now, the final regular-season ballots are released.

"It's just a tough situation," Teaff said.

Tressel said Teaff had floated the idea to him on Sunday morning that there was precedent for a coach "splitting" his vote between both two teams.

"I said that would be fine," Tressel said. "But when the next call came back they said that wasn't the way we could do it."

The top-ranked Buckeyes (12-0) were awaiting Sunday's final Bowl Championship Series rankings -- based in part on the coaches' poll -- to determine who they play in the national championship game on Jan. 8 in Glendale, Ariz.

Florida finished No. 2 in the coaches' poll ahead of No. 3 Michigan.

Tressel issued a statement earlier Sunday saying that he had consulted with athletic director Gene Smith and that "based upon our unique position in the BCS standings, I believe it is only fair that we not participate (in) the final poll."

The decision by Tressel not to vote could be unprecedented. AFCA executive director of marketing and development Mel Pulliam said he couldn't recall a coach declining to vote in the coaches' poll -- for any reason.

The Gators were ranked fourth in last week's coaches' poll and moved past the idle Wolverines after defeating Arkansas 38-28 Saturday night in the Southeastern Conference title game. USC, ranked second in last week's coaches' poll, fell to No. 7 after its 13-9 loss to UCLA.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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