By J.M. Comer
With hesitation, I’m going to bring it all up (briefly) again.
Back in mid-May of this year, it seemed there was a week when the stitches from the 2004 wound were picked open on Auburn Tiger fans … again. The playoff argument was bandied about again by football commissioners to no effect, and the Bowl Championship Series decided again to maintain the current non-playoff format.
Of course, our slighted 2004 Tigers were mentioned over and over again in stories and opinion pieces, arguing for and against the current situation in NCAA Division I football.
But among the frothing blather of do-nothing, nothing-new news, a story about one Nittany Lion’s protest caught my attention.
Joe Paterno says, “Hey Coaches Poll! Can you hear this? Well, maybe I should turn it up.”
In an interview by the Associated Press, Penn State head coach Joe Paterno said he hasn’t voted in the USA Today Top 25 Coaches Poll since 2004 because he was not allowed to vote for the Auburn Tigers as the best team in the country. He was forced to vote for the USC Trojans.
In his own words:
“They said, ‘Well, you’ve got to vote or else you can’t participate.’ So I will not participate in the voting,” Paterno said. “Not that I’m against what other people want to do, it’s just that philosophically I think you ought to win it on the field. If I have to vote for somebody only because people have said these are the two teams that ought to be in the BCS championship game and I think they left somebody out that probably ought to be in it, that’s when I’ll feel a playoff ought to be appropriate. I’ve always been for a playoff.”
So does Paterno stand alone in his protest against the Coaches Poll? Well, I can’t believe it, but Tommy Tuberville still votes in the damned thing along with his SEC brothers. What gives?!?!
It has been three seasons and many games since the Auburn Nation’s national championship dreams were quashed, but what would have happened if all the SEC coaches had joined Paterno in protest? It seems that not too many SEC rivals rushed to Auburn’s defense in 2004, so I guess such thinking-hoping-wishing is ridiculous.
SEC pride? I guess it comes and goes for some, but at least Paterno saw something in Auburn’s undefeated team as it slugged its ways through the toughest conference in the country.