It was said by St. Peter, the first pope: "Rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, of all hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind."
Words to live by in The Big East football conference.
So, players of the eight teams in the league, listen up: Cut the resentment and definitely don't talk trash, then throw in a Hail Mary or two for attitude adjustment, and you're ready for some football.
Because, men, playing football is the only thing you can do to alleviate any frustration your conference gets year after year in the preseason polls.
The Associated Press writers are dishing out some tough love to teams like AP No. 15 Pittsburgh, AP No. 25 West Virginia, No. 26 Cincinnati, and No. 31 Connecticut.
In the AP poll alone, the conferences are represented by the number of teams as follows:
Southeastern Conference: six teams with the top team, No. 1 Alabama
Big Ten: four teams with top team Ohio State at No. 2
Big 12: three teams with top team Texas at No. 5
Atlantic Coast Conference: five teams, Virginia Tech the top team at No. 10
Pac-10: three teams, Oregon the top team at No. 11
Big East: two teams, the top team is Pittsburgh at No. 15
And don't forget Western Athletic Conference's Boise State at No. 3 and Mountain West Conference's TCU at No. 6, way beyond the Big East.
It's like this: A track coach from my "blazing" sprint days sensed an entitlement in my psyche and always yelled solely at me, "Son, you gotta want it! You gotta earn it!"
A lot of running and puking later, I got the message.
That's a similar message from the voting scribes across the land to Big East coaches, administrations, players, and fans: Set up a challenging schedule; if your 2010 slate is not challenging, then win every game.
It's rather easy for fans of West Virginia and their fellow league mates to check out the preseason votes and say acerbically, "Here we go again." But, my friends, that's the moonscape the Big East travels on. Accept it, in the spirit of St. Peter, founder of The Church.
You probably know what "groupthink" is. According to Wikipedia, the word is as it sounds: "...a type of thought within a deeply cohesive group whose members try to reach a consensus while minimizing conflict."
The members of a group practicing groupthink avoid promoting viewpoints outside a predetermined yet implicit comfort zone.
Examples of groupthink are President Lyndon Johnson's Vietnam War, and the people surrounding Pontius Pilate.
I looked over the Top Ten of these six preseason FBS college football polls: Associated Press, USA Today coaches, Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News, Rivals.com, and Lindy's.
These publications and services well represent the print and Internet media. This group does not include the computer algorithmic side of the Football Bowl Subdivision rating equation. We'll get to them at a later date.
Of these half-dozen "human" polls (the Big East may call them "inhuman" polls), a consensus has been established by the fact that the following six teams are in every Top Ten:
- Ohio State
- Boise State
These three teams appeared in the Top Ten of five out of the six services:
- Virginia Tech
Alabama is the consensus preseason No. 1. Ohio State is No. 2 in five of the polls, with Boise State breaking from its solid No. 3 spot to land in the No. 2 spot in Lindy's.
However, one brave poll is the iconoclast among the six. Shockingly, The Sporting News ranked Miami, a firm No. 11 through No. 15 in five of the polls, a brazen No. 4. Writers from TSN, after submitting themselves to a psychiatric examination, look to a defense returning to the speed and hitting of the turn of the century Hurricanes to lead the way.
To writers from TSN and to all Miami players, coaches, and fans: I'm being sarcastic. I enjoyed your magazine. As well, Randy Shannon has rounded the corner and Jacory Harris is fabulous to watch.
That's the problem with groupthink. Any excursion outside the box is met with resistance.
This leads to my conclusion.
In 2009, the USA Today coaches' poll preseason Top 25 had no, I repeat, had no Big East team ranked.
The final coaches' poll after the bowls and the BCS championship game?
Cincinnati, 12-1 at No. 9
Pittsburgh, 10-3 at No. 15
West Virginia, 9-4 at No. 22
The only thing the Big East can say is: Tee it up!