Voters face unusual challenges because of COVID-19


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USA TODAY Sports activities’ Paul Myerberg breaks down the preseason Amway Coaches Ballot which options the Clemson Tigers sitting on the high. Discover out the place your favourite workforce landed.

USA TODAY

For the primary time within the fashionable historical past of the Amway Coaches Ballot, groups should take care of two opponents each week with a view to hold their rating. And solely one in every of them will likely be on the sector. 

The nice problem for voters this season, to no matter extent a season is feasible in 2020, will likely be producing a ballot each week that each rewards the packages which might be taking part in one of the best soccer whereas additionally acknowledging that groups are additionally going to be in a combat in opposition to COVID-19 that will not be winnable each week. 

In a standard 12 months, evaluating groups for the Amway Coaches Ballot is a reasonably simple project. Coaches may need totally different methods than others for evaluating groups, put totally different priorities on parts like margin of victory or energy of schedule, however the fundamentals are usually the identical. Groups that win will rise by means of the rankings, groups that lose will often be penalized.

However is that basically going to be truthful throughout a season wherein everybody concerned within the sport expects coronavirus disruptions starting from canceled video games to quarantining vital gamers resulting from constructive exams or contact tracing? How do you account for a workforce that exhibits as much as play however, for instance, is lacking most of its vast receivers or first-string offensive line? 

As groups ease again into follow with the scheduled begin of the season now lower than a month away for some conferences, no person is basically positive how any of it will look or play out. Steerage from the NCAA and the Energy 5 conferences on COVID-19 testing and make contact with tracing procedures counsel that anybody who comes into shut contact with somebody who has the coronavirus should quarantine for 14 days. Which means coaches will likely be holding their breath on each testing day figuring out that one constructive take a look at might rule complete place teams out of the next week’s sport. 

TIGERS ON TOP: Clemson picked No. 1 in preseason poll 

LOOKING AHEAD: Outlooks for the Top 25 teams in the preseason poll

OVERLOOKED: Five teams snubbed by this year’s preseason Amway Coaches Poll

Coping with that fixed uncertainty of who’s going to be accessible and the inevitability of groups needing to regulate their lineups in vital methods resulting from constructive exams makes for probably the most difficult seasons any coach or participant will ever expertise. Nevertheless it additionally means ballot voters might be required to take extra than simply wins and losses under consideration when formulating their rankings.

Because the years in the past by and voters change into extra refined about issues like superior statistics and energy of schedule, we’ve seen extra willingness to contemplate extenuating circumstances like accidents when evaluating a workforce’s true high quality. A aggressive loss to a high-quality opponent isn’t essentially going to ship somebody tumbling down the ballot, particularly if a key participant or two was out with an harm. 

However COVID-19 isn’t going to be something like an harm bug. If faculties are heeding the protocols they’ve been given, you may have gamers who appear to be completely wholesome not be allowed on the sector as a result of they confirmed up within the contact tracing of a constructive case.

What if that’s the star quarterback? What if it’s a whole beginning offensive line that practiced collectively all week and all of the sudden a workforce has zero depth at that place? How do you consider a highly-ranked workforce that loses with a dozen gamers sitting out, however most of them are prone to be again for the following sport? 

Frankly, numerous outcomes this season appear prone to come right down to COVID-19 luck. So how voters deal with these conditions from week to week will make for maybe essentially the most fascinating ballot arguments within the Web period. Don’t anticipate consistency, and don’t anticipate each voter to present a free move to groups that lose as a result of they’re brief on personnel. On the finish of the day, that is nonetheless school soccer — a sport that traditionally rewards the groups with the fewest losses.

However it’s nonetheless an enormous duty that the coaches should take it critically and get it proper. Even within the School Soccer Playoff period, the place a committee will select the groups who play for a nationwide title, the polls can nonetheless set the narrative and affect considering. 

“I believe it’s essential within the means of crowning a nationwide title and who goes into the playoffs,” former Ohio State and Florida coach City Meyer stated this week on the debut of the Contained in the Amway Coaches Ballot podcast from USA TODAY Sports activities. “There are folks on (the committee) that, I don’t need to say don’t perceive the sport of soccer, however there’s some that don’t perceive the sport of soccer. They by no means performed it, by no means coached it. Whether or not you’re an athletic director or commissioner of a convention, all due respect, I’d say they’re going to take heed to individuals who, that’s their life. So I imagine and anticipate that they’d hear and say, why does that coach have this faculty ranked this excessive?”

The why is at all times a very powerful half, however this 12 months it won’t be clear-cut from week to week as groups attempt to hold as a lot of their gamers on the sector as potential. The preseason ballot seems to be pretty regular, as if it got here from a world earlier than COVID-19. However beginning now, which groups can keep away from coronavirus outbreaks might be the largest think about who finishes on high. 

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