The college football picks are in, the votes tabulated, and the projections locked down. They’re all fighting for your attention on websites and glossy pages, archived for posterity, and come Christmas, you’ll swear some were yanked straight from a posterior.
Monday brought the unveiling of the Associated Press preseason poll, which signaled the last in the line of best guesses from those of us who spend Saturdays in the press box.
West Virginia received a No. 17 ranking from AP’s panel, a middle-ground amid some scattered forecasts.
Sports Illustrated really likes the Mountaineers up at No. 10, but Phil Steele doesn’t like the Mountaineers in his Top 25 at all.
The Sporting News picks WVU 16th, which is one spot higher than The Orlando Sentinel. CBS Sports ranks the Mountaineers 20th, matching the projection of the Amway Coaches poll (so sponsored because the coaches who flounder may wind up selling it.)
Athlon’s weighs in at No. 22, Sagarin at 34th. and the algorithmic matrix making up the computer composite doesn’t have West Virginia anywhere among the top 40.
The consensus on the Mountaineers is there is none.
Will Grier may become the most efficient quarterback in the country, but, hey, he ascended to No. 5 last year and his team barely cracked .500. His frontline returns four-fifths intact, though it’s the same group that wilted late last season when the offense needed it most. (I mean, 1.9 yards per carry vs. Texas and 1.4 against Utah? Good thing there was a Mike Stoops creamy center sandwiched between.)
While nobody expects West Virginia’s defense to relive 2017’s embarrassment, nor does anyone anticipate a 2016-like resurgence.
Ultimately, you end up with predictions scattered all over the yard, and the AP’s No. 17 feels about right for a team mixing a few huge stars with a few huge questions.
Because the AP no longer factors into a BCS-style metric, you call this preseason poll worthless. I contend it matters more than you think.
Expectations become anchors when programs fall short of them, and West Virginia has ended a season ranked only twice in seven tries under Dana Holgorsen. The late Bill Stewart achieved two top-25 finishes in only three seasons.
Assign whatever importance you will to that stat. Such debates drive the run-up to kickoff.
Time to transition from guessing games to playing ones that actually matter.
Follow Allan Taylor on Twitter @GAllanTaylor. Email firstname.lastname@example.org