The word “consensus,” which simply means “an agreement,” can be one of the finest words in sports. Think of how it would feel to be a consensus All-American, as the best minds of your sport got together and all agreed on your prowess.
That’s heavy. Never happened to me, but I understand it’s really cool.
This is especially true in college football, most notably Football Bowl Subdivision football, the sport for which little is decided on the field and mostly all is determined in meeting rooms, by computer algorithms, and through electronic computer balloting.
So, if you can't beat them, join them.
Here's how I got five polls together to arrive at a consensus Big East preseason ranking.
a. the USA Today coaches’ poll
b. the Big East media day poll
c. Rivals.com poll published by Yahoo! Sports
d. The Sporting News, and
e. Sports Illustrated.
I took the first through eighth place standings and assigned scores. Simply, the top-ranked team of each poll was assigned a score value of 1.00. As well, No. 2 scored a 2.00, and like that on down. Positions from the five polls were added, with the lowest scores achieving the highest ranking.
The consensus rankings of the five polls
No. 1 in all five polls with a young but ultra talented offensive backfield and a senior-laden defensive line with Greg Romeus and Jabaal Sheard.
Key game: Nov. 11 at Connecticut. Nationally ranked in all five polls No. 14 through No. 16.
QB Zach Collaros with new spread offense might make the digit counters fall; with a porous Bearcat D, he’ll have to.
Key game: Sept. 25 at Paul Brown with Oklahoma. National ranking: No. 18 (SI) and No. 24 (Rivals.com).
3. West Virginia
Lightning-quick running back Noel Devine and hitman safety Robert Sands lead 16 other returning starters.
Key game: Sept 25 on the bayou at LSU. National ranking: No. 24 (USA) and No. 24 (TSN).
The Huskies have momentum with late 2009 big double-OT win at Notre Dame and a PapaJohns Bowl victory over South Carolina; 17 starters return for highly-regarded head coach Randy Edsall.
Key Game: Sept. 4 at Michigan. National ranking No. 20 (Rivals.com).
The Scarlet Knights could be the 21st century version of the “Super Sophs,” led by second-year QB Tom Savage. Hard hitting D is a key, but the youth extends to the offensive line.
Key Game: Sept 25 hosting North Carolina.
6. South Florida
Young QB BJ Daniels is ready, and, according to new head man Skip Holtz, everyone will follow. Will there be no more Jim Leavitt second-half swoons?
Key Game: Sept. 11 at The Swamp against Florida.
Syracuse fans and some experts say this is the year the Orange turn the intangibles into real facts and go back to a bowl.
Key Game: Washington at Seattle Sept. 11.
The Cardinals are all intangibles, starting with new head coach Charlie Strong, the defensive coordinator from two national championship staffs at Florida.
Key game: Nov. 20 Papa John’s date with West Virginia.
Pittsburgh is the runaway No. 1 choice of the five polls. The Panthers are, in my opinion, a thinking person's pick.
Head coach Dave Wannstedt is getting eleven returning starters, and Jeez Louise, are they talented. And, talent he will need as Pitt's out-of-conference is challenging albeit ideal for a championship run. Wannstedt takes his team to Utah in their opener and hosts Miami on a Thursday night.
Cincinnati, West Virginia, and Connecticut are within a gnat's antennae of each other. Cincinnati's new head man Butch Jones brought a successful dynamic spread attack from Central Michigan, but that defense... man, they have to get better.
If the holes are plugged, the Bearcats' most realistic bet is probably a fight for the Big East No. 2 Meineke Bowl.
West Virginia has 18 starters returning, along with a quarterback in Eugene Smith you could almost call the 19th. It is interesting, however, that the Mountaineers have so much experience, but Sports Illustrated ranked the team a dreadful fifth in the league. Why is that?
Connecticut looks to me to be much more than a dark horse. The Huskies are a contender with experience on both sides of the ball. But, the overriding facet of UConn's team that will lead a challenge with Pittsburgh is 12th-year head coach Randy Edsall. He has grown a tough squad that's scheduled an ideal slate as WVU, Pitt, and Cincy fly to the Constitution State.
Don't let their low ranks fool you. Rutgers and South Florida are a far sight more than spoilers. Rutgers' young Knights will grow this season and could give West Virginia's Bill Stewart fits as he hosts big-time, proven head coach Greg Schiano in early December.
The conference and the entire FBS will find out that Jim Leavitt's ouster is a blessing to South Florida. New head man Skip Holtz will rally the always talented Bulls around quarterback BJ Daniels. Daniels has had his baptism of fire and is ready to lead.
Syracuse boosters and fans look to this season for the Orange to return to postseason play. They may have a point there. The team and the fan base remained optimistic through a 4-8 season, and head coach Doug Marrone has hired himself as the offensive coordinator of a potentially dynamic attack.
Louisville's big asset is head coach Charlie Strong. Bringing a national championship pedigree to Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, Strong's job may not be as difficult as those outside the conference believe. The Cards were there in the hunt in 2006.
I invite comments on this one.