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Final Thoughts on the Bias Issue

Walt gives his final thoughts on the bias issue

Jeff Gross

It's been a week since I opened the poll on the bias issue. This is my final post on it following Josh Dowdy's original piece on the issue found here and my response here. The results are now in from the poll I created and we'll discuss those along with some of my final thoughts on the issue.

201 people voted in the poll. Of those 201, 8% claimed they had had no clue. 19% believed there was bias in 1983 and/or 2004, 33% believed there was no clear evidence of bias against Auburn, and 40% believe there is a clear history of bias against Auburn.

I'll be honest, when I had the idea for a poll I really didn't realize how limited I was to only one question and then a bunch of different answers. Perhaps if I had been able to create more questions and answers things would have come out a bit differently or I would have been able to make my point a bit clearer. I'm not surprised at the results that came out of the poll in the least. I'm curious about what would have happened had I been able to add a few more variables, though.

I got into a few arguments over Twitter about the issue. I think I need to be clear about some things: when I originally stated my argument it revolved mainly around Auburn's positions in the polls. I have zero doubt Auburn faces an uphill climb against many in the media in the state of Alabama. It comes with the territory of not being THE state school. I also know there are certain people in the media who undoubtedly dislike Auburn. Some of them are easy to pick out because of their having graduated from some of our chief rivals (looking at you, ESPN, and many of your writers). But I do not believe this has translated into a meaningful result where it mattered: in the polls. Even in the midst of the Cam Newton saga, Auburn was still getting the votes.

I argued these points in my previous article, so I'm just going to say it briefly, here. I believe 1983 was a result of "wow, Miami just beat 'unbeatable' Nebraska in a 'high' scoring game! Auburn struggled to beat their opponent and didn't score a single TD. We have to have the votes in right this second? Well then, it's Miami!" I think that was more a result of the immediate shock of "unbeatable" Nebraska going down. I don't think voters were even thinking about Auburn at the time, because they didn't expect to have to. Is that a bias against Auburn? In a way I guess it can be construed as such, but I don't think it was one with malice intent. It was praise of Miami for what they did. If the vote were a few days later, when the initial shock had worn off, perhaps the result in 1983 would have been different. I don't know, though. There's no real way to tell.

If there's any bias in 2004 it was FOR the teams that the media had voted the preseason #1 and #2 teams. They weren't going to move those two teams out of the top spots unless someone loss. We can talk about how great the SEC is, but you have to remember that at the time only Tennessee and LSU had won the BCS Championship from the SEC, and the SEC did not enjoy the reputation it does, now. Would Alabama have jumped us in the same situation? Maybe, but I really don't know what the results would have been in terms of the BCS computers' results had Alabama gone undefeated that season. It would be interesting if someone ever worked it out. I do not think Alabama would have jumped Oklahoma or USC in the polls, though, simply because USC and Oklahoma are also two of the traditional "powers" in college football.

That's what it comes down to for me. I do not believe - in terms of voting in the polls - that there has been anything approaching a large enough block of anti-Auburn sentiment that it has affected our standing. If you're arguing there is a bias FOR some of the bigger "power" schools (and I would argue Auburn - as a top 15 school in all-time wins - belongs in that category), then I would agree. Maybe Auburn not being included in that group is a show of bias if you care to see it that way. There is clear bias in the media for the schools that they know will pull in the ratings and advertising numbers. That does not necessarily mean there is specific bias against Auburn anymore than there is a bias against any school that is not one of the "power" schools. See 2011 and Oklahoma State. 2010 and TCU. There are other examples as well. I'm sure that in every single fan base you will find a large number of fans who will say that the media and everyone else is biased against them.

In the end my thoughts - and yours - on the issue don't amount to much of anything. Especially now that the playoff committee will choose based on their own random criteria who will play in the playoffs. They'll surely lean on the polls, but in the end that group of people is going to decide who plays for the weird trophy that is shaped like something that is unmentionable in polite company. When it comes to coverage all over the internet and on TV, ESPN and others will focus on what brings in page views and ratings. By this point I think they know slighting Auburn is going to mobilize the fan base in many ways and get us to read their articles and respond. That's why I haven't linked the article on Auburn's "lucky" wins last season. I don't want to give them the page views. They know which fan bases will respond and in what manned they will do so. How else does Finebaum keep getting ratings and now be on TV? Because he stirs fanbases by playing to what gets them responding to him.

So here's what we'll do here: We'll report on Auburn. If it's good, believe me we'll be proud of it and scream it from the mountains. If it's bad, we're still going to report it and we'll talk about what it means and how it affects the school, the athletic programs, etc. If it's erroneous, we'll do our best to show you why and refute it. Do you know what's going to determine Auburn's position in the polls at the end of the year, though? Those players and coaches on the field. We have zero control over them and what they do. If Auburn wins all their games, things will take care of themselves regardless what the media thinks or writes or reports.

Bobby Barkley posted his Ten Commandments of the Student Section a week or so ago. There was discussion, arguments, etc on that, as one would expect when we speak in absolutes. In the end I kind of came to the conclusion that let's go with the Christ philosophy of "love your neighbor as yourself." Love your brother and sister Barners as yourself. We have disagreements on the way things are done and/or the way we perceive things, but we all love Auburn in the end. Let's give everything we have to those men on the field and help them in every way they can to take care of business so that there's never any question where Auburn belongs.

War Eagle, always.