New Players Poll Set

Much maligned West Virginia – be it perceptively or realistically – will have at least one ally in a new football poll. Of course, so will many other teams.

Mountaineer linebacker Jay Henry, arguably the smartest player on the WVU roister and inarguably the one with the most football knowledge, will be West Virginia's representative in a new college football poll that hope's to one day survey one player from every Division I-A team. Of now, 18 schools will participate in the first poll, including Big East members Syracuse, Cincinnati and West Virginia. Each player votes for his top 25 four times during the year, and the votes are tabulated in the same way as other polls – one vote for No. 25, 25 votes for No. 1.

The poll begins this week and runs through the end of the season. And Henry could be among the most educated this week, seeing as how West Virginia does not play and will held just a lone morning practice on Saturday, which gives him plenty of time to actually watch a number of games, if he so chooses, this afternoon and evening. The Mountaineers came off the field at 2:15 p.m. today.

"I wouldn't put much stock into it," Henry said. "We don't see many games at all being a player. It's probably not very scientific."

It can't be any less scientific than the Associated Press poll, which asks media (mistake one) to rate football teams, very few of whom they have watched played. And anybody who reads anything media-oriented on a daily basis, be it this website or anything else, can note how uneducated or downright absurd the Fourth Estate can be at times, if not always. At least Henry has a base of football knowledge upon which to rely, defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel having called him among the smartest players he has ever coached and roommate Dan Mozes saying how the first time he played Henry in a college football video game that after two series' he knew he was playing someone who knew the game extremely well.

"I am looking forward to it, to enjoying it and having fun with it, but I'd take it for what it's worth," Henry said.

Several universities expressed concerns about releasing the results of the ballots cast by individual players, the anonymity of the voting player, and the amount of time that it will take for a player to vote in the poll. So each player will only vote once per month at the end of each month. The first poll will not be released until Monday, October 2, 2006. This means that the player will cast his first vote on Sunday, October 1, 2006. This will allow the player one full month to judge the teams prior to casting his first ballot. It also takes into consideration the demands on a player's time at the beginning of the season when he is just adjusting to both a full football and school schedule.

Plus, like with any other work, sometimes one needs to escape it, to not watch or live or eat or breathe football. And off week is designed to be just that, even from a coaching standpoint at times. And while Henry says he will see many games, he won't just camp in front of the TV for the entire weekend.

"This was supposed to be a secret," Henry said. "I guess it's out now. But that's fine. I'm not sure how knowledgeable I will be."

The poll can be viewed at, where fans can nominate Player of the Year candidates. The Players Poll hopes to continue to add more team each week, meaning the votes will increasingly be of lesser value. The poll it not in any way tied into the official national title picture. Numerous national and local newspapers will print the poll, the sponsors of which tried to become involved with The Sporting News. The magazine refused to publish it when the poll could not find enough teams to participate.

The final ballot will also contain a ballot for The Players Poll National Player of the Year. The following is the final schedule for voting this season:

Sunday, October 1, 2006; Sunday, November 5, 2006; Sunday, December 3, 2006; Tuesday, January 9, 2007. The ballots of individual players will not be available to media or the public to protect privacy and other issues. In accordance with NCAA regulations, the player will receive no compensation for participating in the poll.

The following schools will participate in the initial poll: Clemson, Florida State, Colorado, Cincinnati, Syracuse, West Virginia, East Carolina, Marshall, Southern Mississippi, Navy, Temple, Ball State, Kent State, Miami (OH), Southern California, Arkansas State, Florida Atlantic and Louisiana Lafayette. That breaks down to seven BCS schools and 11 non-BCS programs. The Big East has more teams involved than any BCS conference.

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