Posted by Chip Patterson
The first official preseason poll was released on Thursday, with USA Today announcing the results of the Coaches Poll. Much to the dismay of Big East football fans, there was not a single representative from the conference in the initial poll. It should not come as a complete shock, as not a single Big East team finished ranked in 2010's final coaches poll either. West Virginia was the only vote-getting team down the stretch of last season, but after a 23-7 loss to N.C. State in the Champ Sports Bowl the Mountaineers fell from the rankings.
With only three teams receiving any Top 25 votes from the coaches, we will look to the "Other Receiving Votes" to find our Big East contenders. (No. 25 Penn State received 161 points in the poll)
West Virginia, 149 points, No. 27 - The Mountaineers fall just short of the Top 25 after being named the preseason favorite to win the Big East. Dana Holgorsen is looking forward to a challenging non-conference schedule that will include playing LSU and facing Maryland in College Park. In order to be taken seriously on a national level, West Virginia needs to win one of those September matchups. Unless something drastic changes, being first in the Big East standings won't be enough to get you invited to the party.
South Florida, 9 points, No. 38 - Skip Holtz's squad enters the season predicted to be one of the top three teams in the conference. Despite five straight 8+ win seasons, the Bulls haven't finished higher than third in the conference since joining the Big East. Many believe that this season could be the year USF breaks through. They finished the 2010 season with emotional wins over Miami and Clemson, creating what Holtz is calling a "snowball effect" of excitement around the football program. They'll have a chance to show that newfound excitement early, kicking off the season against No. 18 Notre Dame in South Bend.
Pittsburgh, 3 points, No. 47 - The Panthers return eight starters from the eighth-best defense in 2010, and add a new high-octane offensive scheme brought by new head coach Todd Graham. It is not shocking to see Pittsburgh failing to collect Top 25 votes, but they seem to have an advantage when compared to many of the other teams around them. The Panthers will get a chance to prove themselves against Iowa, Notre Dame, and Utah. If they have a squad that deserves to be in the rankings, we will know by the middle of October.