USA Today: Tressel did not vote Texas No. 1

Updated: September 8, 2006, 9:31 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

When Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said he voted Texas No. 1 in the coaches poll, he made a mistake, said USA Today, which sponsors the poll.

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The rematch between No. 1 Ohio State and No. 2 Texas on Saturday night at Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin will tag one team with a loss and diminished national title chances.

At his weekly news conference Tuesday previewing the showdown, Tressel said, "I've got [the Longhorns] ranked No. 1 on our ballot." Texas coach Mack Brown, meanwhile, said he had listed Ohio State No. 1.

USA Today, however, disclosed late Tuesday that Tressel's ballot actually lists Ohio State No. 1 and Texas No. 2. The paper, which normally does not reveal votes except for the final regular-season poll, said it announced Tressel's vote as a matter of policy to protect the integrity of the poll.

Stan Jefferson, Ohio State's director of player development, called in Tressel's ballot Tuesday morning. Jefferson said he changed the ballot to match the preseason poll and did not have time to tell Tressel.

Integrity of the coaches' vote
USA Today characterized Ohio State coach Jim Tressel's press-conference announcement that he voted Texas No. 1 as he "made a mistake." The paper released Tressel's vote in order to protect the "integrity" of the poll, which, to paraphrase Groucho Marx, is more than Tressel ever did.

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"When it came time to vote on the preseason poll, we voted Texas No. 1 and us No. 3 after talking about it as a staff," Jefferson told The (Manfield, Ohio) News Journal. "When I called in his poll [Tuesday morning], he did not tell me to put Ohio State No. 1. I put that down because we were No. 1 in the preseason poll that came out.

"I did not have time to get with him today before the press conference. It was an honest mistake on our part. It was not meant as a psychological ploy or attempt to play mind games," Jefferson said.

Ohio State confirmed Texas was No. 2 on Tressel's ballot.

Coaches can have another person call their votes in to USA Today as long as the head coach makes the selections.

Texas has won its last 21 games and is the defending national champion, but Brown said he has been voting Ohio State No. 1.

"We feel like they deserve to be the No. 1 team in the country because they finished the [2005] season like we did, but they've got more returning starters in key positions than we do," Brown said.

The Buckeyes lost 25-22 to Texas before an Ohio Stadium-record crowd of 105,565 last season. Even though Texas is dripping with tradition in its 113 years of football, it has never hosted a No. 1 vs. No. 2 game until now.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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