August 24, 2009
There were no surprises in the preseason AP poll released over the weekend, including Florida's record-breaking margin at the top: Nearly half the poll -- a dozen teams -- comes in at exactly the same position as in the Coaches' Poll, including the entire top seven, and another eight are within one spot of their position on the coaches' lineup. Aside from a wack ballot or two, it's completely in line with the summer chalk.
But that predictability in itself is another not-so-subtle slap at the Big East, which once again failed to land a single team in the top 25 of one of the major polls; Pittsburgh led the voting at No. 28 in the "Also Receiving Votes" category. Meanwhile, it was another love-fest for the Mountain West, which put TCU, Utah and BYU in the top 20; along with Boise State at No. 14, it was the best performance in decades -- maybe in the history of the preseason poll -- by the mid-majors, which traditionally only have one or two teams, period, and usually none in the top twenty. Obviously, that doesn't mean they're going to finish that way; I'm on record with my skepticism toward Utah, specifically, especially given its apparent commitment to a true freshman quarterback, and I'm willing to go on record and predict the Big East champion will finish in the top 25 (even Pittsburgh made the cut in 2004). But the poll is ipso facto an indication of where the public opinion stands at the moment, and again, it's definitely not with the Big East.
Before this turns into another "Mountain West in the BCS in our lifetimes!" treatise, though, there are other realities in play -- like, for instance, the Mountain West's total inability to get a decent TV deal, keeping its best games hidden from the rest of the country for the foreseeable future and certainly limiting its potential ceiling in the national debate. Friday nights on ESPN may not be ideal, but they do beat being the low man on the totem pole on networks most fans don't have even if they've heard of it.