Joanna Norris, Assistant Director
Department of Media Relations and Events
A new study by four University of North Florida
professors finds that voters in the college football media poll are biased in
favor of teams and conferences from their home state and toward selected Bowl
Championship Series (BCS) conferences.
UNF Coggin College of Business professors evaluated the weekly ballots submitted
by 65 Associated Press (AP) voters in 2007. Drs. Jay Coleman, Andres Gallo,
Paul Mason and Jeff Steagall found evidence of geographic bias toward teams and
conferences in the voter’s state—and that such geographic bias is state-related
and not distance-related.
professors also found evidence of excessive favor toward teams in the SEC, Big
12, and PAC-10 (and against teams in the Big East, and to a lesser extent the
Big 10), as well as toward teams that played on television, particularly on
prominentnetworks. Additionally, they found that voter ballots were
too heavily related tosimplistic performance indicators such as the
number of losses andlosing in the preceding week. The business
professors did not find evidence of a so-called East-coast bias by AP voters.
media often heavily criticize the so-called computer rankings—particularly when
they differ from the media’s judgment—as well as the coaches’ poll, with its
presumed self-serving biases,” said Coleman. “And both of these are used by the
BCS, which amplifies the rhetoric. However, our findings indicate that there is
ample evidence that the media perspectives are hardly unbiased either.”
followers of college football have long surmised that many such biases exist,
no previous study has ever formally evaluated whether the group noted above—particularly
those involving geographic bias—are indeed true. However, the AP’s public
release of individual voter ballots, which started in 2006, finally provided
enough detail in the voting data to allow specific analysis of individual voter
results have significant managerial ramifications for the selection and
distribution of voters by the AP, and whether the champions so designated would
have been the same without such bias. To the extent that similar biases may
have existed in other seasons, it also calls into question the BCS’s previous
use of the AP poll,” stated Coleman.
study by the UNF professors will soon be published in the Journal of Sports Economics. Go to jse.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/1527002509346823v1
to read an abstract of the article.
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