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Delayed kickoff for new BCS poll

NEW YORK -- The Bowl Championship Series has a new poll, one that begins a month into the college football season and will include former coaches and players, plus media members.

Called the Harris Interactive College Football Poll, it will rank the top 25 teams on a weekly basis, starting Sept. 25. Plans call for 114 voters.

The BCS has said it would like to see the elimination of preseason polls, which some believe give highly touted teams an unfair head start in the rankings.

''This allows for some games to be played in the current season rather than allow teams to be ranked purely on preseason expectations," BCS coordinator and Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg said yesterday during a conference call.

The season's first BCS standings will be released Oct. 17.

The new poll replaces The Associated Press poll, which the BCS had used in its formula for ranking teams since 1998. Last season, however, the AP told the BCS it no longer could use its media poll.

In addition to the new poll, the BCS will continue to use the USA Today coaches' poll and a compilation of six computer rankings -- each counting for one-third of a team's grade. The coaches will continue with a preseason ballot.

Weiberg said voters in the new poll will be allowed to make their votes public at any point in the season if they choose.

Last season, Southern California and Oklahoma held the top two spots in both the AP and coaches' polls in the preseason and kept those positions throughout undefeated regular seasons.

Auburn, which began the season ranked in the teens in the polls, went unbeaten but never could pass the Trojans and Sooners. The Tigers did manage to tie Oklahoma in the AP poll for one week late in the season.

All three teams finished the regular season unbeaten and USC and Oklahoma played for the national title in the Orange Bowl. Auburn went to the Sugar Bowl, finished the season 13-0, and had to settle for a final ranking of No. 2 behind national champion USC.

Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said the preseason rankings put his team at a disadvantage because they had too much ground to make up in the BCS standings before games were played.

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