I initially didn’t have Clemson on my Associated Press Top 25 ballot. Yeah, how could that happen?

I could claim Texas A&M offensive guard Jared Hocker was so convincing in saying the Aggies would upset top-ranked Clemson, that I just decided not to rank the Tigers.

My only explanation is that I’ve voted Alabama No. 1 so many times, I just subconsciously figure Alabama should be first. I know this, I put Alabama first and filled in all the other teams, leaving off Clemson which I had ranked first.

Let me explain how we vote, or at least how I vote. I list approximately 30 teams. I like to know which teams are just outside my Top 25. I list all teams with no numbers beside them since I move them around so much. This week, I didn’t have much movement in my Top 15, but a lot of movement in my bottom 15. When I was done debating and moving, I logged onto the AP site and started voting. You click on No. 1, pull down to the team you have first and then move the cursor down to No. 2, etc.

For some reason as I was voting, I started with Alabama and went down my list. Remember, I have no numbers on my list (I certainly will in the future before logging on to the AP site). So Syracuse ended up being No. 25 on my initial AP ballot, though it actually was 26th on the list on my computer.

I did double check, again starting with Alabama as No. 1, glancing back and forth between the lists. I just blocked out Clemson or was focused on Alabama as the No. 1 team. And I hit save and logged off. What’s ironic is I’ve been thinking and writing about Clemson for months and have been looking forward to this game. Go figure.

Then came an email Tuesday morning from AP sports writer Ralph D. Russo: “Hey Robert, Ralph Russo here. You left Clemson off your ballot. Can you email me a corrected one ASAP.”

What a gaffe. Luckily, Ralph is one of the nicest guys you’ll meet. Hey, mistakes happen. But now, I’m a repeat offender. Last year, late in the season the guy from the AP desk woke me up bright and early Sunday morning, way before I even get up for church.

“Hey, Buddy, you left Oklahoma off your ballot,” he said.

I don’t know if I had them third or fourth, but I’d also skipped over them. Again no numbers, dah, I should have numbered them starting the following week. I guess, I’m hard-headed, old habits are hard to break. Ironically, I never had a problem in the old system, when we emailed our ballots. I always had 25 teams, no problems, year after year.

The guy last year assured me mistakes happen all the time. Maybe he was just trying to make me feel good. Then again, I know I vote in the wee hours of the morning, often half awake and hungry. I’m sure others do as well.

I know this, when I get down shuffling my teams around next week, I’m numbering them. And then I’m going to check my list twice and make sure I’m not naughty and making more work for Rudolph, I mean Ralph.

FYI, here’s my original ballot (there better be 30, again, next week, I’ll number them)





Ohio State


Notre Dame












Boise State


Iowa State

Washington State


Penn State

Michigan State






Get daily news, sports, opinions, entertainment and more, delivered every morning.

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.