Paper protests Texas' lobbying for BCS bowl

Updated: December 10, 2004, 4:31 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

The controversy surrounding the BCS just keeps growing.

In the wake of Texas leapfrogging Cal for a BCS bowl bid, the Charlotte Observer has announced it will no longer vote in The Associated Press football poll. The newspaper's executive sports editor, Mike Persinger, detailed the reasons for the Observer's pullout in an editorial Friday.

Persinger said Texas fans, in the wake of coach Mack Brown's public pleading for voters to move the Longhorns ahead of "less deserving" teams, "bombarded AP voters, including the Observer's Ken Tysiac, with e-mails imploring them to change their votes. Some were eloquent, many were insulting."

Persinger said Tysiac did not change his vote in the face of such pressure -- the paper published his votes every week -- but others did. Persinger said an "Alabama voter, also a victim of the e-mail bombardment, moved the Longhorns from ninth to fifth -- still behind Cal on his ballot, but a gain of four precious poll points." The Los Angeles Times has also reported that three papers in Texas switched the Longhorns and Bears in their final votes.

Texas earned a Rose Bowl berth because of its AP poll movement and improvement in the computer rankings. Persinger noted the difference in Texas' Rose Bowl payday -- $7 million to $8.5 million per team -- and what Cal will earn for its Holiday Bowl appearance, $1 million.

"With that kind of money at stake, the potential for abuse is great," Persinger wrote. And because the newspaper believed the current voting system has been called into question, "the Observer has cast its last vote."