USC's #2 ranking the Times' fault? *

Retired L.A. Times staff writer Ken Reich blogs that the LAT's new ethics policy forbidding sportswriters from voting in the college football polls cost USC the top ranking.

It is a striking illustration of how silly ethics revision has diminished Times influence.

Carroll's revision held that three members of the Times sports staff could no longer vote in polls used to help compile the BCS standings.

Who can doubt that the absence of their votes led to the result this morning where USC trails Texas in the BCS (Bowl Championship Series) standings by .0007, the slimmest margin between number one and number two in the history of the BCS....

Times football writer Chris DuFresne and sports columnist Bill Plaschke both wrote at length in this morning's Times about the BCS treatment of USC, undefeated in 27 games, but neither mentioned the Carroll ethics policy as a factor. Were they censored, or was this self-censorship?

Actually, I very much doubt Times sports editor Bill Dwyre told them not to mention the ethics policy. He protested against it at the time, and he knows how every sports editor in the country is laughing at Los Angeles' shortsightedness this morning.

The Trojans have won 29 straight games, but still were knocked out of the #1 spot. College football fans are salivating at the idea that USC and UCLA will both be undefeated when they meet Dec. 3 in the Coliseum.

* Hold on a minute: I'm told that there are a few holes in Reich's argument. First, no one at the Times had a vote in the college football polls even before the new ethics rules came down. The AP poll voters in Los Angeles are Todd Harmonson of the Register and Scott Wolf of the Daily News. Second, USC is still ranked #1 on the AP, Harris and USA Today polls, so that wouldn't have counted against the Trojans even if AP's poll was still part of the BCS calculation (er, Third: which it apparently isn't.) 5:05 pm

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