Best-selling author John Feinstein explains why he voted Kansas No. 1


Best-selling author and GolfChannel and ESPN regular John Feinstein always has the most interesting, independent ballot in the weekly Associated Press poll.

Every voter claims to not care what the nation thinks in filling out his or her ballot. Feinstein proves it weekly with votes that often are quite different from the consensus. This week, Feinstein stands alone in putting Kansas at the top of his ballot. Sports Illustrated's Seth Davis is the lone voter to rank Kansas second.

"Kansas has the most impressive win of the year: At Ohio State, as Michigan found out," Feinstein told me in an e-mail exchange. "Bunch of one-loss teams. I give them the edge because of that."

Nineteen of us put Kansas third and fifth was the most common Kansas ranking, appearing on 26 ballots.

No. 1 Louisville received 36 first-place votes, No. 2 Indiana 13, No. 3 Duke 14 (including mine). Kansas is ranked fourth and Michigan, with one first-place vote, fifth.

Feinstein has written several best-selling sports book, the most famous "A Season on the Brink," a fascinating all-access look at a season of Indiana basketball under Hall of Fame coach Bob Knight.

The book ended a friendship but led to a priceless exchange between men at the top of their professions.

Knight, upset with his foul language being used verbatim, referred to Feinstein as "a pimp and a whore." With a counter-punch better than any Ken Norton threw in upsetting Muhammad Ali, Feinstein retorted: "I wish he would make up his mind so I'd know how to dress."

I don't know any Knight fan who read the book and didn't think even more highly of Knight after reading it, four-letter words notwithstanding.


jakejayhawk 5 years, 4 months ago

Tom, I have a lot of respect for your work. That is why I am surprised that you vote Duke number one. No one (outside of Duke anyway) knows how serious Kelly's injury might turn out to be. Is it fair to agree that your vote should reflect the actual status of a team and not what they might be? Add to that the tenuous nature of Curry's leg. It appears there are a lot of questions about the team from Durham.

Ben Kane 5 years, 4 months ago

so feinstein voted us #1. could've just left that headline and moved on.

Matt Tait 5 years, 4 months ago

Funny, man. We've talked about doing that. Looks like we'll start brainstorming ideas. Might become a regular thing -- careful what you wish for!!!

Freedman Moor 5 years, 4 months ago

Call it "Point. Counter Point"

Its also a pretty decent book if you ever get a chance to read it.

Ray Winger 5 years, 4 months ago

Absolutely hilarious. It has become so predictably amusing as the unwarranted criticism of Dayne Crist, last fall. (note the comma). I found the production of the passing attack to be a multifactorial issue (right side line play, failure to get open/finish the route, failure to stop the ball and catch it and failure to put it in the right spot).

dylans 5 years, 4 months ago

I'm kinda glad KU isn't ranked number one. If KU had blown out temple and isu they could be 1. I would like our guys to play like they are being disrespected. Complacency kills.

Ben Kane 5 years, 4 months ago

this team is not ready to be #1. #4 is fine for now.

Mallory Rempp 5 years, 4 months ago

Totally agree. Not only does it make us a moving target, but we're certainly not number one material yet. Soon...but not yet, just based on the last few games we've played.

Tom Keegan 5 years, 4 months ago

Thanks, Jake. Fair question. Coach K (note my laziness in avoiding the step of looking up the spelling of his name) said in ACC conference call that he expects Curry to be back Thursday, although he won't practice today. Kelly's in a boot. I didn't want to hold one loss against Duke, which has had the toughest schedule of the one-loss teams. But if it looks as if Kelly will be gone for a while then that does make them a different team and their performance will lead to be bumping down the Blue Devils.

dylans 5 years, 4 months ago

Fair assessment. I would find it rather difficult to overlook personal dislike for certain teams to be objectionable. Mizzou, Arizona (I would root for them if it wasn't for 1997), Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina are all teams for one reason or another I would have a hard time not over-penalizing for losses.

jakejayhawk 5 years, 4 months ago

I appreciate your thoughts. Like I said, I do respect your work.

What are you smoking? Have you tried any of the EP Carillo's? They are amazing!

Phil Leister 5 years, 4 months ago

Ha, what are you smoking. I ask myself that same question of Keegan daily. :)

jakejayhawk 5 years, 4 months ago

That was one of the best comments I have ever read here! Great humor! I didn't even think about that connotation when I wrote my question to Tom.

Tom Keegan 5 years, 4 months ago

Feinstein, by the way, is a Duke grad, so don't accuse him of playing favorites.

Jeff Coffman 5 years, 4 months ago

KU is the only team with a 12 game winning streak. During that time they have beat OSU on the road (best road win from any team this year), a tough temple team (team that knocked off SU), and blew Colorado out of the sky.

I'm not saying that KU is the #1 team, but the same argument that people are using to say that Duke would have been undefeated if is the same reason Louisville could use about Duke.

Personally, I always think losses at the beginning of the season are less meaningful than the ones that just occurred. Teams mature, adjust, and get better.

Phil Leister 5 years, 4 months ago

Keegan, you're the ONLY person to rank Pittsburg (at 24, no less) and you ranked Indiana at 5, which only a few other voters did. Insights?

Brandon Deines 5 years, 4 months ago

Anyone hear the priceless exchange between Bob Knight and Rece Davis last week?

Bob - "What's that number mean?" Rece - "That's the shot clock." Bob - "What's that other number mean?" Rece - "That's the game clock."

GreatJake 5 years, 4 months ago

I mentioned early in that game that BK must have hit happy hour before the game as his face was so red.....everyone dismissed my comment until BK's babbling and drawing with the white board and then of course after BK's clock mystery comment was not taken for granted....

The clock questions were really odd

DCLawHawk 5 years, 4 months ago

You're being too kind. Even after Rece told him what it was, Coach Knight kept asking about it. He didn't have the good sense to realize that Rece was covering for him, and he kept digging the hole deeper and deeper. Good grief, Coach. Are you so convinced of your own brilliance that you persist in making the same point over and over even after it has been shown to be absolutely wrong? I'm one who tends to enjoy Knight's insights, but that was downright embarrassing.

Geezer 5 years, 4 months ago

The committee isn't supposed to use RPI anymore. The members all are aware of KenPom, Sagarin etc. but they aren't anything but justification.

Tom Keegan 5 years, 4 months ago

Coach K said he hopes to have Kelly back this season but didn't get specific on ACC conference call. ... I might have put too much stock into Pitt blasting Georgetown on the road and probably didn't put enough into Pitt's loss to Rutgers. ... RPI is too influenced by schedule-makers. It puts too much stock into whom you play, not enough into how you do. For example, Kansas could not have played much better than it did in destroying American, but because American is a weak team, KU's RPI dropped after that. ... As for what the committee's exact seeding instructions are, I'll have a better handle on that and so you will when I blog about it from Indianapolis in mid-February. I was invited to partake in the mock-selection process. I think the strongest members of the committee try to use whatever rating system is their favorite as a last resort.

Ben Kane 5 years, 4 months ago

I think I speak for everyone in that you should do that.

Stan Unruh 5 years, 4 months ago

Good stuff Tom. Love Feinstein's work. Have read all of his books. Season on the Brink was outstanding. Glad KU is not #1 just yet.

Tom Keegan 5 years, 4 months ago

Feinstein is a great story-teller. I loved "Next Man Up," the season with the Baltimore Ravens. As a reader, I bled for the players and in so doing realized what an awful NFL GM/coach I would make. You have to treat players as if they were plastic pieces vibrating on your electric football field. If one breaks, "Next Man Up." ... Feinstein's one of my favorite big names in sports. Fame hasn't changed him a bit.

Brad Avery 5 years, 4 months ago

Most of us can figure out why Feinstein would vote for KU as #1. He's a smart guy. This article would be much better off if it were devoted to explaining Keegan's irrational obsession with Duke.

Jeff Coffman 5 years, 4 months ago

I would have hoped that the headline would have read, Local Duke writer chooses KU.

TexasRockChalk 5 years, 4 months ago

It's laughable that Keegan places Duke at the top perch of today's rankings. Notwithstanding Kelly being out, Duke got outplayed and LOST on the road to a ranked team, albeit in a somewhat competitive ACC. Michigan loses to a team -- and was down by 21 in the first half - whom we beat (OSU) by double digits and pretty much owned in the second half. If you're truly looking at "body of work", then look at all the game, and not just ones which serve to buttress your own viewpoint Keegs. The Rock Chalk Nation will accept your apology in tomorrow's sports section :)

Mark Lindrud 5 years, 4 months ago

I'm in shock Puke is still ahead of us. They were dominated throughout and Michigan lost a hard fought game. I agree we are not #1 material at the moment, but we should have been 3rd followed by Michigan then Puke. It's not my hatred that says I want them further back, but still can't help, but feel that east coast basis still into play. I have noticed pollsters don't always take injuries into account, which they should, but guess we can do only one thing to make everything right, win baby!!!!

johnsont1 5 years, 4 months ago

I think I'm beginning to like Keegan.

hawk_of_ages 5 years, 4 months ago

"A Season on the Brink" is Feinstein's most famous book, but the most essential from a KU perspective is the follow-up, "A Season Inside," which chronicles the 1988 season in college basketball, climaxing in the Danny & the Miracles title run. Lots of great behind-the-scenes material on Larry Brown and crew, along with a lot of other interesting teams and coaches.

As for Season on the Brink, I can't say I agree that Knight comes off well. Feinstein details his verbal abuse of players in brutal detail. In his other books, he gets similar access to a lot of other coaches, and while they may have their tirades, none has anger issues to the extent that The General did.

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