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Harris Poll Loses Four of Its Voters

August 25, 2005|Chris Dufresne | Times Staff Writer

The new 114-person Harris Interactive College Football Poll, unveiled on Monday, got a few voters lighter on Wednesday.

Three members of the poll that will replace the Associated Press writers' poll in this year's bowl championship series standings formula -- former coaches Lou Holtz and Gerry DiNardo, and former Pittsburgh quarterback John Congemi -- will not be permitted to participate because ESPN, where they serve as analysts, has cut ties to the BCS.

The network, in pulling out of the BCS in June, cited conflict of interest and also said it was withdrawing its co-sponsorship from the USA Today/ESPN coaches' poll.

A fourth Harris voter, Jason Rash, gave no reason for his withdrawal, although his credentials were questioned when it was learned his only tie to college football is being the son-in-law of Troy Coach Larry Blakeney.

Rash works for a masonry company in Atlanta.

Harris spokeswoman Nancy Wong on Wednesday would only officially confirm the withdrawal of Congemi, but BCS spokesman Bob Burda said Rash was out and that he expected Holtz and DiNardo would follow suit because of their ties to ESPN.

"That's the assumption we're under," Burda said.

Wong said the vacated spots would be filled.

"Harris Interactive does have a plan in relationship to this," Wong said. "It's something we talked about from the very beginning."

Harris Interactive, a marketing research firm based in Rochester, N.Y., was contracted by the BCS to operate the new poll. Harris randomly selected the 114-person field from a list of 300 nominations provided by college football commissioners and football independent Notre Dame.

Wong said that the replacement voters will be randomly selected as well and that Harris had nothing to do with the fact that there were no women included among the original 114.

"In the overall pool, there were women," Wong said. "But to remain statistically valid, it was based on a random selection process. The fact there were no women on the list was not in the plan."

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