Big East and the College Football USA Today Coaches' Poll: Again?

Tim McGheeCorrespondent IIIAugust 6, 2010

If the USA Today Top 25 Coaches' Poll were extended to the USA Today Top 35 Coaches' Poll, here in terms of teams in the poll is how the conferences fared:

Southeastern: Eight (but of course, and who can argue?)

Atlantic Coast: Six (you cannot be serious!?!)

Big Ten: Four (top heavy conference, but No. 2 through No. 14 are strong)

Pac-10: Four (USC's inclusion could have been five)

Big East: Four (always bringing up the rear, more later)

Big 12: Three (the three are top 10)

Mountain West: Three (save us from the ACC!)

Western Athletic: One (Boise State, No. 5 in your poll, No. 1 in your heart)

Conference USA: One (Houston, for those who crave points)

Also, don't forget Notre Dame. I can't. Every Sunday, the monsignor does a Touchdown Jesus.


In the college football dictionary I want to publish someday, the entry for "deja vu" refers you to several top 25 College Football USA Today Preseason Polls where the Big East teams listed in those polls are highlighted.

Or not.

Not, as in last year's 2009 top 25 preseason polls and early polls in which no Big East teams were represented.


In fact, it wasn't until No. 29 where Cincinnati was ranked. Following the Bearcats were No. 30 Pittsburgh, No. 31 West Virginia, and No. 32 Rutgers.

Allow me to take you to the 2009 final poll. Looking at the Big East first:

No. 29 Cincinnati finished ninth.

No. 30 Pittsburgh finished 15th.

No. 31 West Virginia finished 22nd.

It's obvious I favor the Big East. I haven't approached FanBoy status, not do I want to and I'm not going to. The Big East to me is a football league that hasn't gotten the time of day from those who track the other five BCS conferences since Miami, Virginia Tech, and Boston College hit the bricks.

The outcomes of football games do not lie and cannot be altered or influenced. As well, computer rankings are set up by the ranking services using algorithms consistently within mathematical laws.

So, if one wants to put a team or group of teams "in its place," the human polls provide a fine mechanism through which to do it.

In the people polls, what usually happens to good Big East teams, along with teams such as Boise State and TCU, is they "slowly win their way up."

Contrast these with teams such as Oklahoma, Southern Cal, Penn State, and Georgia, which have to string together a couple of losses in order to begin a slow descent.

I believe I have been and will remain objective in this sense and write on Big East topics, knowing that the anecdotal evidence is strong enough to make most third party observers think again.

In fact, since I'm on the topic, look at the ACC's record. And, don't take my word for it. See for yourself:

While you're at it, compare the Big East rankings to the "venerable" ACC.

I'm not limiting my analysis of coaches' wayoff-ness to the Big East:

No. 16 Boise State finished fourth.

No. 17 TCU finished sixth.

No. 19 Florida State finished unranked at 7-6.

No. 23 Notre Dame finished unranked at 6-6.

No. 3 Oklahoma (with one first place vote) finished unranked at 8-5.


No. 5 Alabama with no first place votes won the national championship.

This has been going on for a long time. Here's more anecdotal evidence: West Virginia under Don Nehlen put together two unbeaten seasons and took both into the bowl games during the years 1988 and 1993.

Ancient history, but stick with me.

Both teams lost their respective bowls, decisively, to Notre Dame in the 1989 Fiesta Bowl and to Florida in the 1994 Sugar Bowl.

They both finished fifth in the nation in the final polls, both with 11-1 records.

Both were unranked preseason.

I know. Anyone with enough time can come up with these arguments and counter them.

It's just my theory, but I think you can find that the Big East teams, especially Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, West Virginia, Connecticut, Rutgers, and Louisville (that's six out of eight) have to "show" the pollsters a lot before they believe.

Hence, low preseason points and higher November and December rankings.


The coaches' preseason poll is difficult to avoid. It's usually early August when the USA Today releases the poll into a void as fans have been starving for college football for months.

Early February through July is crazy. Grown men and women become besotted with 6-5 300 pound high school linemen, running backs with 4.2s in the forty (I swear!), and mobile, agile, and hostile athletes your coaches can line up anywhere.

Remember, folks, before you get too fired up: they're 18 years old.

But, it's either them or more Rich Rodriguez news.

Now these coaches have gotten together. It's something substantial to heat up the keyboard. 

But, is it? 

Many sunrises and sunsets have to pass before the first ball is teed up. Football looks as if it is upon us, but it''s...just a preseason poll.

Featured columnists like myself have been filling the infinite web with ethereal commentary. I have published a) a West Virginia top 10 games in history list, b) a West Virginia top eight gutty plays of the last 35 years list, and c) now I'm working on the annual Upsets to Watch For list.

Empty rhetoric.

It's been a long offseason. Aren't they all? 

We've done our jobs, keeping the kettle stirred February through July. So, payday is upon us.

Payday to an FC is, of course, writing about games, analyzing the last game and predicting the next one. Games, scores, who did what and how and why. The way it is and the way it should be. 

That's in our DNA.


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