ASK CFN (8/5) ... CFN's West Virginia ranking
Posted Aug 6, 2007

Why is West Virginia ranked 24th? Is the SEC really the best conference? Which non-BCS coaches are on the hot seat? These questions and more in the latest ASK CFN.

By Pete Fiutak
Fire over your questions to me at I might not be able to answer them all, but I promise they're all read. Any e-mails sent to this address may be published or edited unless requested otherwise. (Please put ASK CFN in the subject line, and PLEASE keep the questions short ... it makes my life easier.)

Your an idiot and so is CFN to have West Virginia ranked 24th. See the coaches poll? Don’t you feel like a bunch of morns now? I’ll never read your joke of a site again. Morons. – SS

WVU 24th? We’re going to be playing for a national championship, and you have us ranked 24th and Georgia Tech 10th after we beat them and they lost Calvin Johnson? – BH

Once again, your anti-West Virginia bias shows through. Why not just be ACC and quit wasting everyone’s time. Your and idiot and everyone knows it. - KW

Past ASK CFNs ...    
- CFN's West Virginia schedule
- Is Booty Heisman-worthy?
- The USC Schedule
- The Big Ten Network
- The most underrated head coach
- The Top Ten NFL receiver prospects 

- Why did Brady Quinn slide?
- The Virginia Tech situation

- Creating a MWest-WAC super-league
Mid-majors who should be in the bigs
The potential new superpower
The 5 best coaching jobs
March Madness for football?
Potential Bowl Shockers
Tim Brewster?
Fox's BCS broadcasts
- Is Brady really better than Russell?
Hot & Cold Bowl Programs
- How ineffective was Reggie Ball?
- A 2007 Top 10 Mock Draft
Can Michigan win a national title?
- BCS possibilities for several teams
- West Virginia schedule, BCS rules
- Toughest coaching jobs
- Hidden Heisman 5

- Is Temple worst ever?
- Oklahoma-Oregon fiasco
- Has Bob Stoops lost it?
- Is Colorado done?

A: I always try to make sure all e-mails are answered, even the screaming, angry, threatening ones, but to hopefully save time, here’s my attempt to calm down a frenzied Mountaineer nation.

1) If you bothered to notice our projections in the
West Virginia preview, we have your boys going 11-1, winning the Big East, and finishing up with a trip to the BCS. If we’re the idiots you think we are, then we’re obviously wrong on that and for being the only ones who think Pat White is a better college (NOT pro) player going into this year than Brian Brohm. If you think that’s an anti-West Virginia bias, then I can’t help you.

2) Read the criteria of the rankings. We rank the teams based on how good we think they are right now. West Virginia is one of those teams we think will probably be far, far better after a few games, even with all its returning starters. However, the O line needs to replace two key cogs (don't underestimate the loss of Dan Mozes), the linebacking corps has to somehow be stronger after losing top playmakers Boo McLee and Jay Henry, and the secondary has to prove it's better after getting torched throughout last year. Our rankings are never based on where we think the teams will end up.

3) Read all the previews, including the ones of the teams we have in the top 23. We're not ranking the teams this way by pulling names out of a hat. Also, don't get so hung up on the rankings. There's a razor-thin margin this year between No. 5 and No. 25. If you really believe WVU belongs in the top ten, we won't argue too much. If and when West Virginia comes out and looks terrific, we’ll change the ranking accordingly, as we do throughout the season. It’s all about adapting and adjusting as the season goes on. It’s our job to give honest opinions on every team and every player. We’re not trying to be wacky; we’re trying to be right.

4) Finally, don’t bring up the Coaches Poll as an example of anything; it insults us both. I’ll bet you six bucks and a venti raspberry mocha latte that 85% of all the non-Big East voting coaches couldn’t name two Mountaineers other than Slaton and White.

Florida fans, at least the ones I know and chat with on the message boards, don’t necessarily disagree with CFN ranking us 14th, but why’d you guys have to show your anti-Gator bias by saying “everyone seems to have forgotten just how close last year's supposed juggernaut of a national champion came to having just an above-average season.” Why the jab? Are you that bitter that we won? – TC

A: First of all, how is that statement wrong? With so many games won by a touchdown or less, and needing a last-second blocked kick to beat South Carolina, if a few breaks had gone the other way, Florida would’ve been 9-3. Of course, the Gators made their own breaks and got the job done, but the point was that young, inexperienced teams, even ones as talented as this year’s Gator squad, doesn’t always get all the good bounces, especially in the SEC. As other Florida e-mailers correctly pointed out, last year doesn’t have anything to do with this year, but it’s relevant because all the other preseason polls have the Gators high mostly because of the way last year ended.
Explain to me why the SEC is hands down the best conference in America this year?  Only 2 teams in your top 20 and only Tennessee plays a tough road game outside the south this year.  I know the SEC is deep and many of the stadiums are tough to play in with fan bases who would rather be doing nothing else than watching football on a Saturday, but this year it doesn't seem to be such a clear cut winner vs. other BCS conferences in terms of quality. – Mike

You keep saying the SEC is the best conference in college football, but judging by your rankings, it doesn’t appear that way. Is the ACC really that good? - MM

A: I can’t stress this enough when it comes to our rankings; they’re based on right now. ACC teams like Virginia Tech, Boston College, Miami (because of its defense) and especially, Georgia Tech, should be more ready to rock and roll on day one than other teams. While all teams are better after a few games under their belts, several SEC teams should make a bigger overall jump.

As far as the conferences, the Pac 10 is loaded with great teams from one through nine (Stanford still needs work), the Big 12 should be far, far better, and the Big Ten, while still not terrific after a down year, should be improved. With that said, the SEC might not have a lot of teams high up in our rankings now, but that’ll change after a month or so. Florida needs all its freshmen to get their feet wet. Georgia needs to show its defense has reloaded and the receiving corps has to prove it’s better. Tennessee needs its new receiving corps to shine, and could use time on the defensive line and secondary. Arkansas has to replace the stars on defense, Alabama has to find a steady running game, and Auburn needs show it can be consistent despite all the changes on the line and with a suspect receiving corps. Why is the SEC still the best? The bottom. Vanderbilt, who’s a LOT better than many will give it credit for, Kentucky and Ole Miss are all good enough to beat anyone in the SEC on any given day and can all honestly shoot for bowl eligiblity, and Mississippi State is better than last year.

Can Nebraska and will they beat USC, Wake Forest, and Texas. If they beat those three, are we looking at a National Title game? (being that they do good the rest of the season and win the big 12) – JB

A: There’s a growing part of me that thinks more and more that the Huskers are going to give USC a nightmare of a game. The Trojans are so good on the road, and this team is so loaded, that it’s hard to pick against them against anyone, but Husker QB Sam Keller is familiar with playing against USC”s speed and won’t be fazed by the uniforms. If Nebraska plays its best game, and it mistake-free, it shouldn’t have a problem with the road trip to Wake Forest. Winning at Texas is going to be tough, but the game Husker fans really have to worry about is at Missouri on October 6th. Lose that, and Nebraska will be chasing the rest of the season. To answer what you’re getting at, Nebraska’s schedule (which includes Texas A&M, at Colorado and Oklahoma State) appears to be too tough to get through unscathed, but if it’s good enough to beat USC, it’s good enough to beat everyone else.

We always hear about the BCS conference coaches who need to win or at least show major progress in the upcoming season.  But what mid-major conference coaches do you think are on the hot seat in 2007?  Also, how much more patience do mid-major coaches get from AD's and boosters, and do you think they deserve more/less/the same generally?  -AM in Berkeley

A: UNLV’s Mike Sanford is probably front and center after going 4-19 in the first two seasons. Colorado State’s Sonny Lubick needs to come up with a turnaround season considering he has his best team in years. CSU has to become more of a factor in the Mountain West. Utah State’s Brent Guy had better start winning after going 1-11 last year and winning just four games in two seasons. Tommy West of Memphis, Eastern Michigan’s Jeff Genyk, and UL Monroe’s Charlie Weatherbie could use a winning season.

Patience-wise, it depends on the school. For the most part, a good coach can turn a MAC, Sun Belt or Conference USA program around in a big hurry and get into the title race. Brian Kelly at Central Michigan, Frank Solich at Ohio, Rick Stockstill at Middle Tennessee, Steve Kragthorpe at Tulsa, and a few years ago, George O’Leary at UCF instantly turned their teams around. The pressure isn’t there like it is at the top BCS schools, but coaches usually get three years to start to make things happen.  

Which school (or schools) seem to gain the most attention when you run an article about them?  Which programs ALWAYS grab a lot of page hits?  I bet there a couple schools that you guys know will generate a lot of run by their rabid fans but by and large nobody else cares about... – PJC

A: Like clockwork, anything, anything, related to the SEC, Ohio State, Michigan, or Texas brings in the readers. Of course, when we tick off a particular fan base, we get the message boarders who check out the site to yell at us, even though most rarely read the entire offending article. Shockingly, the Pac 10 and ACC don’t do too much for us. No one ever reads anything we do regarding Conference USA, the MAC or the Sun Belt, but we always do what we can to cover everyone equally since many readers want to know a little about every team, and we do get pockets of fans who are happy when someone is paying attention to them. You can’t know the entire college football landscape, and be able to come up with predictions, rankings, etc., unless you know the Eastern Michigans and Arkansas States along with the Floridas and the Ohio States. As far as the good hits for teams that “nobody else cares about,” outside of the BYU and TCU fans from the Mountain West, the WAC fans are the most rabid among the non-BCSers. I don’t think anyone’s ever read anything we’ve done on San Jose State or Utah State, but Boise State, Hawaii, Fresno State and a few others generate plenty of interest.

So what up with this Texas A&M schedule prediction? They are picked to beat OU and UT, the two best in the Big 12, but lose three conference games, and still either OU or UT is the Big 12 south champ?? I imagine if you knock off the two best teams in the league you'd be the conference champs but not according to you experts. I know everything pre-season is meaningless but I see NO logic here whatsoever, you know what I mean? –Paul

A: Here’s how this came about. Start with two theories: 1) The Big 12, outside of a few exceptions, is going to be nasty. 2) A&M is going to be the type of team that can beat anyone, and could get tagged by anyone on the wrong day. The A&M pick over Oklahoma is simply an out-of-the-blue upset call. There are always going to be shockers, and this seemed like it could be one if the Aggie ground game gets rumbling against an OU defensive front that might have an inconsistent year. As much as we love the Sooners, they’ll likely come up with one dud when nothing seems to work, and with two weeks off after playing at Iowa State, this could possibly be it. This is a best-guess pick; don’t get too hung up on it for now. The Texas showdown is in College Station. If it was played in Austin, we would’ve gone the other way. The Aggies have to play at Texas Tech, at Nebraska, and at Missouri. We have them losing all three, but two of the three is more likely.

I still am curious about Virginia Tech's high rankings in nearly everyone's preseason poll.  I realize the toughness of their defense, however it can be argued that they played four 'good' teams last season, and lost three of them.   Their lone 'good' win against Clemson.  I hate to think that that the interest in the Hokies is based on sympathy (a tragedy indeed).  Although I am very excited about the matchup in Death Valley. – JD

A: While the motives of all the rankings need to always be questioned, I honestly don’t believe Virginia Tech is getting the sympathy vote … for now. As the season plays out, I wouldn’t be shocked if Tech gets a few benefits of the doubt if it’s in the national title hunt, mostly because it would be a great story, but the team really is that good. Yeah, the offense is still suspect, but that defense is going to stop everyone cold. If QB Sean Glennon really is as improved as he appeared this off-season, and if the O line can play a bit better than expected, and if RB Branden Ore can stay healthy, going 11-1, and if it becomes 12-1 with an ACC title, might be enough to get to New Orleans.



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