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Steve Alford’s mad about rankings because it could mess with his money

Jan 23, 2013, 11:30 AM EDT

Alford Greenwood Adams McCurdy AP

Yesterday we touched on a topic that a number of other writers wrote about: Steve Alford complaining about where teams in the Mountain West are ranked.

Essentially, Alford said the MWC is underrated in the polls and that he doesn’t like it. Our response? So what. Polls don’t matter. And it’s true. They don’t have any impact on the NCAA tournament or conference standings or anything beyond perception of the program. Recruiting wise, it helps. But San Diego State and UNLV are the two teams that could have been ranked this week, and I don’t think either program is struggling on the recruiting front right now.

That said, I’m going to change my tune a bit here.

Steve Alford does have the right to be upset about where teams in the MWC are ranked.

Because he has money riding on it.

You see, in Alford’s contract with New Mexico, there is a clause that allows him to receive some performance bonuses. He gets $10,000 for a 20-win season and $20,000 for an NCAA tournament berth. There’s a $25,000 bonus for a National Coach of the Year award and a $100,000 reward for a trip to the Final Four. That’s just a sampling.

The most interesting bonus, given our discussion yesterday, is that Alford gets $15,000 if the Lobos beat a top 20 team, as defined by either poll. Now, he’s already reached that bonus once this season — the Lobos beat then-No. 8 Cincinnati earlier this year. But he can cash in on that bonus more than once-per-season, and on Saturday, the Lobos take on San Diego State. They already beat UNLV once this season, when the Rebels were ranked 24th in the country.

He’s running out of chances to cash in.

I’d be upset, too.

(Edit: There was an addendum to Alford’s contract that allowed him to receive the bonus for a team ranked in the top 20 of either to Coaches or the AP poll so as to eliminate a conflict of interest in voting. A previous version of this story said that Alford only received the bonus for wins over top 20 teams in the Coaches poll.)

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

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