UPDATE: Kiffin has relinquished his poll. Not that he really needs it anymore.
Unbelievably, the Coaches Poll still exists. Its very existence in 2012 (and the fact that it still means something) is an affront to all the advances we've made as a society, like the Mars rover, quantum teleportation, and the Doritos Taco.
"I would not vote USC No. 1, I can tell you that," he told reporters.
But he did.
In his first-ever ballot as a voter in the poll, Kiffin voted his Trojans as the preseason No. 1 team in the nation.
First of all, this quote is out of context. Kiffin is referring to Rich Rodriguez voting USC #1, not himself. So Kiffin could be talking from the mindset of an opposing coach ranking the Trojans so high rather than Kiffin himself ranking USC.
Secondly, it's quite possible Kiffin never even saw this ballot. It is common practice for most coaches to hand the ballot over to their SID, someone else on the football staff, or even an intern to fill out for them to submit. It's foolish to believe coaches have any insight into how 119 other FBS teams are doing considering they're actually COACHING A GAME when Saturday's action is in full swing. This would tie into the first point, where Kiffin hasn't actually filled out a ballot and is just swinging from the viewpoint of an opposing coach.
"I don't really care," he said. "Really, it doesn't make sense to me. The coaches vote, and the coaches I know, the good ones, they don't watch other games. They're trying to worry about their own team, watching film.
Thirdly, even if he was being two-faced about it, who cares? Don't most coaches tend to rank their team higher than they deserve, particularly when their BCS title hopes are at stake? Why would you self-sabotage your hopes of making a BCS bowl? Honor? What honor is there in college football, a for-profit sport where athletes get paid zilch and coaches, athletic directors, university presidents and bowl financial staffs rake it in, particularly when college football teams?
There are millions of dollars and mythical national championships at stake. You go for that if you're even considered a contender in the race. Having a top ten ranking in the Coaches Poll is important in terms of being able to stay in front of other teams that have vaulted up from obscurity or lower rankings. USC being as highly-ranked as possibles makes it more likely they'll earn a national title bid if they can run the table unscathed. Even if they lose a game, their fall might not be as dramatic as the potential upstarts in the system. In college football, it's better to be the incumbent than the underdog.
So we have three operating theories: Kiffin's original quote was misconstrued, or he didn't really know what his ballot was, or he's just trolling away at all of us. I wouldn't be surprised if it was the former.