The Bruins (17th in AP) finished No. 19 in the final USA Today Coaches’ Poll, which USA Today also broke down ballot by ballot in a fascinating interactive graphic. Definitely check it out in its entirety, but here are some of the highlights:
— UCLA’s highest vote was No. 13, which came from Middle Tennessee’s Rick Stockstill. San Jose State coach Mike MacIntyre had the Bruins lowest at No. 25, behind his own Spartans, Fresno State, Kent State and Tulsa.
— Five coaches had UCLA at No. 23, including Baylor’s Art Briles and fired Cal coach Jeff Tedford. Tedford probably didn’t think as much of the Bruins given what he saw in Berkeley, but Mike Riley beat UCLA too and had them at No. 17.
— Seven coaches had UCLA at No. 15, including David Bailiff (Rice), Bo Pelini (Nebraska) and Mike Leach (WSU). Wins over all three probably helped make an impression.
— Standard deviation tends to increase going down the poll, which is expected since distinguishing three- and four-loss teams from each other is more difficult. One exception is No. 8 Stanford, which is as as high as fourth (Todd Graham, ASU) and as low as twelfth. Georgia and Kansas State sparked disagreement as well.
— Other unsurprising regional biases include three southern coaches leaving Notre Dame out of the top spot. Vanderbilt’s James Franklin had three teams ahead of the undefeated Irish: Alabama, Florida and Georgia.
On the other side of that coin, Mike Riley and Fresno State’s Tim DeRuyter both had the Crimson Tide third behind Oregon.
The take-home lesson is probably that coaches should not be involved something that actually affects how the postseason is set up. Hard to blame them for helping themselves if the system allows it.