Whether it serves any functional purpose or not, the 2009 pre-season Coaches Poll has arrived. While wrapped up in the excitement that college football season is almost upon us, I couldn’t help but notice one glaring omission.
No Big East.
Not one. This guarantees that for another year, a team entering the season unranked will appear in a BCS Bowl.
Granted Rutgers, West Virginia, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh were all high in the “others receiving votes” category, but not one of them crossed the threshold needed to make the evening highlight reels.
I understand that the Big East is crowded at the top, and clearly votes were split amongst the top four teams, but I did expect at least Rutgers or West Virginia to break in.
Here is a breakdown of ranked teams by conference:
SEC – 5
Big-12 – 5
Pac–10 - 4
ACC – 4
MWC – 3
Big 10 – 3
WAC – 1
But the lower point totals for the four Big East leaders also indicate that the few votes they received were not very high.
Is it telling that the WAC has more ranked teams then an automatic qualifying conference? Probably not. Boise State is a strong brand and happens to be the only WAC team to receive a vote. So there was no cannibalization factor.
What may be more telling is that the MWC came in with three ranked teams.
The MWC is top heavy too, much more so than the Big East, but coming in at #17 (TCU), #18 (Utah) and #24 (BYU) indicates the top of this conference is much higher regarded than the Big East. Or at least coming into the season.
Clearly the coaches are rewarding teams with terrific prospects for the 2009 season, but you can see a hint of influence from last years bowl season.
Naturally, this won’t last.
I'd imagine the winner of the Rutger’s/ Cincinnati Monday Night thriller will crack the top 25. West Virginia will probably be there already, just in time for their redemption match versus East Carolina at home and a compelling road trip to Auburn.
Nobody should put much stock in preseason polls. More than anything though they provide a snapshot of how teams individually and conferences collectively are perceived by the coaches, or should I say, their assistants.
While parity at the top figures to add drama and suspense for most of the 2009 Big East, the lack of a standout team could be hurting the overall perception of the conference.