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Say what? CMU coach 'needles' WMU, votes Broncos 25th

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
In his Top-25 ballot, as part of the USA Today Amway Coaches Poll, John Bonamego ranked Western Michigan 25th following its Mid-American Conference championship victory over Ohio.

Central Michigan coach John Bonamego raised some eyebrows last week when, in an interview with The News, he went to bat for his school’s chief rival, Western Michigan, and its case for a Cotton Bowl bid.

On Sunday, he was back to poking the bear, err, the Bronco.

In his Top-25 ballot, as part of the USA Today Amway Coaches Poll, Bonamego ranked Western Michigan 25th following its Mid-American Conference championship victory over Ohio. The Broncos are 13-0 and will play Wisconsin in the Cotton Bowl, on Jan. 2 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Bonamego was one of five coaches to have Western Michigan ranked 20th or worse. Only one other, Miami’s Mark Richt, had the Broncos ranked 25th. Fifty-three of the 58 coaches who voted had Western Michigan ranked better than 20th, most from 12th to 16th.

Kansas’ David Beaty listed the Broncos ninth, their best showing. Eastern Michigan’s Chris Creighton had Western Michigan 14th.

"The truth is, I'm still a Chippewa at heart," Bonamego said Sunday night. "I made a rule for myself that I was never going to vote them higher than 25, and I stuck to it. I could've changed that this past week, but I wasn't going to be untrue. That's where I voted them all year.

"They probably deserve to be higher. That's where I put them, that's where I kept them. It's a rivalry."

Truth is, the coaches' poll really is rather meaningless. It doesn't factor into the College Football Playoff committee's rankings, which are all that matter in the end.

"It's more of, I guess you could say a 'needling,' " Bonamego said. "If the roles were reversed, I would expect the same from them. In all honestly, I'm glad they got into the Cotton Bowl."

The final coaches’ ballots were made public Sunday, and can be viewed here.

Western Michigan checked in 12th in the Associated Press (media) poll, 14th in the coaches’ poll and 15th in the final College Football Playoff rankings.

Bonamego last week made a public plea for WMU to get the Cotton Bowl bid, if it won the MAC championship, over a two-loss Navy team -- which became a three-loss Navy team after it lost Saturday in its American Athletic Conference championship game. Bonamego made the plea more for the MAC conference than Western Michigan, he said Sunday night.

"If Western was to get snubbed, then what happens to the next team," said Bonamego, whose Chippewas lost to the Broncos, 49-10, but still finished the season 6-6 and will play in the Miami Beach Bowl against Tulsa on Dec. 19. "I don't want that to happen to us when we finally get there. To me, there's right and there's wrong.

"Our conference is underrated in a lot of ways."

One other note from the coaches’ ballots: Every voter had Michigan outside of the top four with the exception of San Diego State’s Rocky Long, which listed the Wolverines fourth.

Michigan (10-2) missed out on the four-team playoff and will play Florida State in the Orange Bowl in Miami Gardens, Fla., on Dec. 30.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter.com: @tonypaul1984