Four members of the media panel had Oklahoma State at No. 1, and Erik Gee, of KNML-AM in Albuquerque, N.M., picked Louisiana State University — as he said he would before the game.
“I was a lot closer than I thought I would be to changing my mind,” Gee said during a telephone interview Tuesday. “I don’t think I necessarily felt good about voting for LSU. But I also didn’t feel good about voting for Alabama. I stared at the computer for 10 minutes. It wasn’t an easy decision.”
Alabama (12-1) was an overwhelming No. 1 in the final Top 25, receiving 55 votes. LSU (13-1), which beat Alabama 9-6 in overtime on the road in November and played a much tougher schedule than the Tide, finished second and Oklahoma State (12-1) was third.
The USA Today coaches’ poll had the same top three, but those voters are contractually obligated to put the winner of the BCS title game No. 1 on their ballots. While there have been occasions when coaches have ignored the rule, it was not the case this season. Alabama received all 59 first-place votes.
Only once in the past five years has the final AP No. 1 been unanimous. Unbeaten Alabama received all 60 first-place votes after the 2009 season.
The Crimson Tide’s 21-0 victory Monday night at the Superdome didn’t sway Gee, but it did persuade two other AP voters who had said they expected to vote LSU (13-1) No. 1 even if the Tigers lost.
“The score says it all,” Joe Giglio, of the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., said in an e-mail early Tuesday morning.
Giglio ended up voting Alabama No. 1.
Seth Emerson, of The Macon Telegraph, was also leaning hard toward keeping LSU in the top spot.
“My thinking was I was going to keep the Tigers No. 1 unless they got trounced – and they did,” he said.
Emerson, however, ended up giving Oklahoma State his first-place vote, along with Matt Markey, of The Toledo Blade in Ohio, Steve Conroy, of the Boston Herald, and Scott Wolf, of the Los Angeles Daily News.
Big 12 champion Oklahoma State finished its season with a 41-38 overtime victory against Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl last week, and many fans believed the Cowboys should have played LSU instead of Alabama getting a second chance to beat its Southeastern Conference rival.
But when the final BCS standings were posted in December, the Tide was second behind LSU and just ahead of Oklahoma State. The AP Top 25 isn’t part of the formula used to determine the championship matchup.
Emerson had Oklahoma State second and Alabama third in his final regular-season rankings, and said the Cowboys had done enough to stay ahead of the Tide after both won bowl games.
“OSU wins and drops a spot?” he said.
Emerson said Oklahoma State had more quality victories than Alabama, and as good as the Tide is defensively, the Cowboys were as impressive on offensive.