In final coaches poll, most favored IU over Iowa State

In the end, the College Football Playoff committee had the power to send its No. 10 team, Iowa State, to a New Year’s Six Bowl over No. 11 Indiana.

But in the over-analysis that has followed, you can pit one more group of voters against the CFP and a three-loss Iowa State team.

Most college football coaches in America seemed to think IU (6-1) was a better team than Iowa State (8-3).

USA Today released the final ballots of the 61 coaches who participated in the Amway Coaches Poll this season, and just 11 ballots placed No. 12 Iowa State ahead of No. 8 IU in Sunday’s poll. Five of the dissenting voters were Big 12 coaches, including Iowa State’s Matt Campbell.

There is some folly in putting too much stock in these votes, because who knows how many hours these coaches invested in watching games outside of their conference, developing a true understanding of whom should be ranked where. But these ballots do provide an interesting glimpse of how another voting bloc viewed it all.

Here’s a sampling of some of the results:

Jeff Monken, Army

Monken seems to be a big proponent of IU.

The Army coach slotted IU in at No. 5 in the nation, the highest ranking the Hoosiers received. That was even ahead of CFP-bound Notre Dame, which he placed at No. 6. Monken had Iowa State at No. 11.

In the end, a coach who has reason to be aggrieved sided with the aggrieved. Army, despite its 9-2 record, was not invited to a bowl. The SEC, for example, had six teams make a bowl game with a sub-.500 record, including Mississippi State (3-7), Arkansas (3-7), Kentucky (4-6), Ole Miss (4-5), Tennessee (3-7), and South Carolina (2-8).

So maybe it was meant for Monken to be on the Hoosiers’ side. Or maybe he is just hearing more good things about IU than most. Former IU quarterback Blake Powers — the son-in-law of IU’s assistant athletic director for alumni relations, Mark Deal — currently serves in an admissions support role for Army’s football team.

Ken Niumatalolo, Navy

Niumatalolo’s ballot is worth highlighting not because of its support for IU as much as its dislike of Iowa State.

Navy’s coach had the Hoosiers at No. 7, matching where they ranked in the Associated Press poll the final two weeks of the season. Nothing earth-shattering. But Niumatalolo had the Cyclones at No. 24 in the country.

That was the lowest ranking Iowa State received. The next-worst evaluation came from Hawaii’s Todd Graham, who had the Cyclones at No. 18. East Carolina’s Mike Houston and Wyoming’s Craig Bohl had them at No. 17.

A majority of voters, 31, had the Cyclones somewhere between No. 10-12.

The head of the military academies’ football programs, for whatever reason, much preferred IU over Iowa State.

Mel Tucker, Michigan State

One Big Ten coach did not perceive IU to be the better team, though.

It was close, but Tucker, the Spartans’ first-year coach, ranked the Cyclones at No. 10 in his final poll, with the Hoosiers at No. 11. That matches the CFP.

He was the only Big Ten coach to slot Iowa State ahead of IU. Nebraska’s Scott Frost had it 7-versus-11, in IU’s favor. Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald ranked his Wildcats at No. 10, but IU was No. 11, and Iowa State was No. 12.

Penn State’s James Franklin had the Hoosiers at No. 8 and the Cyclones at No. 11. Wisconsin’s Paul Chryst had IU at No. 7 and Iowa State at No. 12.

IU beat three of those teams during the season, including Michigan State. In fact, IU shut out the Spartans, 24-0. But apparently, Tucker still thought the Cyclones were the better team.

Dabo Swinney, Clemson

Swinney was one of the six non-Big 12 coaches to slot the Hoosiers behind the Cyclones. But he also gave IU its lowest ranking overall, pegging the Hoosiers as the No. 14 team in the country, while Iowa State came in at No. 9.

But Swinney just doesn’t seem to be a fan of the Big Ten. He had Ohio State — the No. 3 team in the CFP — at No. 11 in his final coaches poll. That’s bulletin-board material, because the ACC-champion Tigers are about to face the Buckeyes in a semifinal contest.

Swinney had Northwestern at No. 19 and Iowa at No. 22, as well.

But that may be a function of games played. All of Swinney’s top-10 teams logged at least nine contests in the regular season, including 9-0 Cincinnati at No. 7. He had 11-0 Coastal Carolina at No. 10, just above the 6-0, Big Ten-champion Buckeyes.

The other non-Big 12 coaches to rank IU lower than Iowa State: Florida’s Dan Mullen, USC’s Clay Helton, Western Kentucky’s Ty Helton, and Texas State’s Jake Spavital.

All four of those coaches had IU at No. 11 and Iowa State at No. 10, matching the CFP’s final ranking.


  1. “Five of the dissenting voters were Big 12 coaches, including Iowa State’s Matt Campbell.” It’s pretty nice when a coach gets to vote for his own team.

    “More logs on the fire.”

    1. You realize that most coaches don’t cast their own ballots, right, and that they’ve been criticized for years over this very thing?

    2. Will be good to remember Mel Tucker of MSU ranked IU behind ISU after we shut them out. More logs!

      1. Tucker just indicated that his team is really, really bad. When you get trounced and embarrassed it’s prudent to keep your mouth shut since the ignorance and resentment will be dealt with every year on the schedule. This from a guy whos QB just entered the transfer portal. LOL.

  2. Coaches poll is just more good-old-boy cramp, a waste of time, just a way for some coaches to target other athletic conferences or teams, its just a coaches pissing contest.

  3. The bowl matchups in general this year for the most part are senseless. I understand Covid restrictions, some bowls have conference ties etc,..but this lame bowl committee had an opportunity to match IU with their overrated ‘love child’ Cyclones + other fun matchups,…they didn’t do it. Putting these .500 or less teams in top bowls is meaningless and less than compelling. Based on what the ‘behind the curtain’ evidence shows from the ‘committee’ and the ‘coaches poll’,…the writers AP selections are the least tainted and should be used for final bowl assignments.

  4. Brad, what Bear Down is referring to is that most of the voting is done by assistant coaches, head coaches don’t want to take the time to deal with it so they let their assistants do it. I have read this many times in the past.

    1. Whatever. That flies in thebface of Sweeney’s interview on his placing OSU at #14, doesn’t it! By the way,…bad move. Clemson likely would’ve had won easily in the upcoming matchup by keeping his trap shut. Feeding the Buckeyes burning slag for billboard motivation wasn’t too bright. Then again,’s Clemson. Regardless of the game’s score, rest assured OSU will be more physical on defense..and noticeably so. Blondie may now have a target on his back.

  5. Just want to point out that the double standard BD applies is humorous. When others make a statement (“IU got screwed”) based on a lot of evidence, he discredits the evidence and demands that the person/people who posted the comment provide “proof.” But when he makes a statement (“You realize that most coaches don’t cast their own ballots”) without providing any evidence to back it up, he expects everybody to take his comments as gospel. Just because some coaches have admitted that they delegate the voting to assistants doesn’t mean “most” coaches do that. We have no idea what percentage of the coaches delegate the voting to assistant coaches.

    But whether it’s a few coaches or most of the coaches, I agree with Brad’s comment that “the writers AP selections are the least tainted and should be used for final bowl assignments.”

    1. Sorry, Po, but you and a few others alleged that the committee was corrupt, and you’ve not shown any evidence to support that. None. As for how coaches vote, do some basic research and you’ll maybe understand that what I’ve described about who actually votes is hardly the exception. Again, it’s about evidence, and you’ve totally come up short with anything to support your position.

  6. IU didn’t beat any team with a winning record, nor any ranked team. ISU did. THAT is why IU tumbled to a garbage bowl.

      1. How many are ranked now? Zero. You guys keep ignoring that fact, and it kills your argument that this was somehow a corrupt process.

        1. The AP’s #7 final season ranking of IU. Since 1995, when this process began, first with the BCS, no team ranked #7 was left out of a top bowl.
          I think that speaks for itself.

        2. Oh,..and there’s another indictor. Northwestern’s bowl placement, the Citrus vs Auburn, the number two B1G ‘award’. We lost to OSU at their place, while they had Olave’ and full strength by a single TD. We blanked MSU..while the Fitz’s lost. The evidence of bias is all over the place.

          1. BD is missing things that prove the bias and keeps wanting to tell us that there was no bias. I am at the point I may decide not to respond to his post any more as he can’t admit anyone but him is right.

          2. V, you haven’t shown this was anything other than a difference in how the committee viewed Iowa States body of work versus IUs. That you and others keep saying it was corrupt while showing no evidence of bias really hurts your cause. That you think the Citrus Bowl was a committee decision speaks very loudly about what you do and don’t know.

  7. That’s sort of BS. We defeated PSU when they were ranked. It is the shocking nature of our upsets against traditionally strong East/Big10 teams (most of which had decades-long winning streaks against us) that sent many of our opponents flirting with Top-20 into downward spirals and out of the rankings. We ended hopes with our upsets and were not justly rewarded…It’s criminal that our team (even in post injury to Penix who orchestrated many of those upsets) has been snubbed because we are now looking at after-the-fact rankings of teams which would have likely gained momentum had we not slapped them around like rag dolls.

  8. Lastly, we were certainly worthy of being given a chance to “prove it’ again on Jan 1st against another favored and highly respected opponent (like the formerly respected Wolverines, Nittany Lions and Wisconsin Badgers until a ‘Hoosier’ with a football team stunned them).

    They don’t want rankings…nor do they want to give a just reward to a team that went through a unprecedented transformation like never before seen in college football. The “championship committee” is a committee of stale frauds.

  9. There is not a team in the history of college football that transformed an image like the 2020 Indiana Hoosiers. If that’s not worthy of a Jan 1st bowl then what the hell is?

    How often do any of us ever change our hard wiring? How often does any reputation ever break free of the shackles of a dismal history as dismal as Indiana Football? There was a story for the ages here ….and they (as in the powers that be…in their moron committees sitting on fancy prima donna fat soft thumbs) simply chose to dis us and hide us under a bus. They should be strung up by their scrotum skins.

    1. Good post H4H and I am glad you made them. I hope IU can be as good next year and prove how improved the program is. I understand it may be different next year but I hope not and teach those people how they screwed up so bad.

  10. IU beat three teams that were ranked when they played them, and they lost to the #3 ranked team, on their home field, by only 7 points. ISU lost to Louisiana (not LSU) by 17 points on their home field and had a total of three losses. They also played in a weaker conference. The committee gave credit to OSU for beating IU, but gave IU no credit for losing a close game to OSU.

    The BS involved in the committee’s selection stinks up all of college FB.

    1. We beat no ranked teams. Iowa State beat two ranked teams. You may disagree with how the committee chose to weigh that as the prime consideration for referencing ISU over us, but that’s what happened.

      1. This last statement just lost you any indulgence or credibility that you fleetingly may have had. Matchups are counted at the time of kickoff,…not polls from the previous season, at the end ìf the season and not from 1965.

        1. So, should our ranking when we beat those schools be the one used, too? The committee simply valued ISU’s wins more than IUs. No idea why you guys can’t accept that rather than float ridiculous notions of corruption.

  11. PO, well said and that isn’t what the committee didn’t see. Just like NW that lost to a depleted OSU team and lost to MSU which IU beat by 24 points. This is what Marco and BD doesn’t seem to understand along with the CFP didn’t see, they were just against IU for whatever reason despite beating Wisconsin at their home field and ranked. IU dominated Wisconsin despite the score which dropped them from being ranked. IU is a very good FB team this year and last but several posters don’t want to see.

    1. For the umpteenth time, the committee didn’t make the decision for the Citrus Bowl, the Citrus Bowl made the choice.

  12. PSU was ranked when we beat them. Wisconsin was ranked when we beat them (on their field with our back-up QB). And Michigan was ranked when we beat them. Only one other team, Alabama, defeated three ranked teams in the regular season. Facts are stubborn things, and those are the facts. The members of the committee can twist themselves into pretzels trying to justify their decision, but they look like fools and have lost a lot of credibility.

    1. So, your logic is that we should use the rankings of IU’s opponents at the time we beat them but use IU’s present day ranking? Hmm.

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