Who is the dissenter?

As expected, WVU found itself in eighth place in the Big 12 media’s preseason poll released Thursday. Two things here to discuss:

1) [REDACTED!] [Cripes, the title doesn't even work now...]

2) WVU was 127 points out of seventh place, which was only 80 points out of third place. That’s amazing and also concerning.

I wrote a little about this in Tuesday’s paper — “Placing is important, but point totals matter, too.” — because realistically the preseason polls and teams are about perception. Placing reveals the perceptions six weeks before the first game, but the point totals allow you to read between the list’s lines.

So the concern here is that not merely that WVU is in eighth place, for a second straight season, but that WVU is perceived to be alarmingly outside even the rather large middle class right now. That’s not a good thing in the third year of this deal.

Please, please spare me, “Caz, you act surprised. They’re 11-14 the past two years. They’re 6-12 in league play. What are you missing?”

Uh, nothing. That’s not what this is about. Not at all. We’re talking about something else. Something bigger. Something WVU had to get its arms around soon.

Know who else is 11-14/6-12? TCU. Know who’s 127 points better than WVU in the poll? TCU. Know who came into the Big 12 with WVU? Hint: They wear purple  … crap, Kansas State does, too … and spit blood out of their eyes!

Now let’s not worry about the problem. Let’s worry about the solution. And here’s where we can share floor space: You have to win to change perceptions and realities. That’s the only fix here. The only fix.

“Uh, Spec, you said winning matters? TCU isn’t winning.”

Correct. But there’s another reason WVU (and probably, to some non-competitive extent, Iowa State and Kansas) has to win to impress in these polls. The Mountaineers are so damn far away from the rest of league, and the concentration of the voters are in Texas (See: Longhorns one point away from third place).

I strongly doubt that many of the voters know much about WVU’s recruiting, underclassmen, roster situation, so on and so forth. My hunch is many are more familiar with TCU’s.

More? WVU had one player on the preseason all-conference team, and certainly the poll reflects presumed talent. Well, Oklahoma State was the only team without a preseason all-conference player, though the Cowboys had the preseason newcomer of the year. OSU finished fifth in the poll and 142 points above WVU. I mean, that’s a big gap for teams that honestly are not and cannot be that much different right now.

Now, this is not to say the polling is wrong or that WVU deserves to be higher. I had WVU eighth and Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Texas 4-5-6.

The point is that the Mountaineers aren’t going to get by on perception or reputation unless one or both are propped up by wins. The things that make you and your neighbor optimistic in most offseasons aren’t going resonate strongly, or at all, so far away.

Don’t mistake this as curb stomping the team. It’s not. I probably get more grief for being, uh, light-handed than heavy-handed. The truth is I just don’t put a lot of stock in the poll — Honest! I can explain! — and last year TCU was third and Baylor was fifth and I thought that was ludicrous.

Where I do give it credit is where it matters, which is perception. I don’t think you can think about the things we think about, like ticket sales and prices and the effect on road crowds and fundraising and even recruiting, and not bundle this all together. Perceptions matter in appropriate places and the perception, from here to Lubbock, from Ames to Austin, is that WVU isn’t even near where it wants to be.

17 Responses to “Who is the dissenter?”

  1. Hersh_WVU says:

    Before I even opened the link to this blog, that was my first thought and I couldn’t agree more.

    “I strongly doubt that many of the voters know much about WVU’s recruiting, underclassmen, roster situation, so on and so forth. My hunch is many are more familiar with TCU’s.”

    It’s not a conspiracy, but human nature. We’re out on an island and the folks in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas probably aren’t exactly well-versed on the dynamics of the Mountaineer program right now. Why would they be? We haven’t given them much of a reason to invest a lot of time and resources into giving us the benefit of the doubt in these polls and preseason lists. It will have to be earned. That said, I think the 3-8 spots are more up-for-grabs than the point totals may indicate. We’ll find out soon enough.

  2. Spatial Angel says:

    I repeat…August can’t get here soon enough.

  3. JP says:

    In before the Luck/Holgerson flogging begins

  4. I love you, Doug! says:

    WVU used to be a victim of East Coast Media Bias. Now, WVU is a victim of Plains States Media Bias.

  5. Aaron says:

    Is it too pedantic of me to point out that there are a whole lot of other ways to get to 170 than 56 eighth place votes and a ninth place vote? I understand that the hypothesis FEELS right, but statistically there are quite a few other combinations.

  6. Kevin says:

    I wonder sometimes how much thought, research and effort voters invest in the season polls, much less a preseason poll. I suspect if WVU were coming off of 2 10 win seasons we would have been voted in the top 3 with the curent roster. For the most part, the really important stuff is decided on the field.

    The main thing that really concerns me about the perception side of things is how WVU will be received when the next round of realignment comes… I think the payment of players and the expiration of the GoRs will force another round of it. If WVU keeps stringing together 4 and 5 win seasons, we may not like WVU’s alternatives…

  7. SheikYbuti says:

    No, Aaron, at least not in my book. First, there were 56 ballots counted, not 57, as confirmed by both the total of reported first-place ballots and by the check total (the 3080 total points received by all teams, divided by the 55 awarded by each voter on a 10-9-8 basis, equals 56 voters). So if all 56 voted WVU in 8th, that would have been a total of 168 points. We actually received 170, which could have occurred by one voter putting us 6th, or two voters putting us 7th, or one voter putting us 4th while another puts us 10th, or one voter putting us 2nd and two others putting us 10th, or … you get the picture. All we really know for sure is that no one voted us first.

    I was going to let it go, but since Aaron asked . . .

  8. MontanaEer says:

    After scrolling through the comments section on WV Metro earlier today, let me just say this: Kudos to all of you and your rational, level and competently-grammared [sic] and punctuated posts. Man, that’s a cesspool on that site!

  9. Mike Casazza says:

    I kicked that voting math, didn’t I?

  10. Ccteam says:

    8th is fair and it could have been worse. After all, last year WV lost to the 2 teams behind them in the poll. As Mike says, WV can change perceptions in only 1 way, by winning. Holgersen has his work cut out for him. I don’t know if he is up for it. A healthy QB will be important. The kicking game should be solid. The defense can’t be worse than the last. Two years. I think WV finishes at or near .500 and better than 8th but can’t quibble with the preseason poll.

  11. SheikYbuti says:

    The good news, Mike, is that being bad at math qualifies you to join me and others here in the legal profession. If we were good at math and chemistry, we’d be engineers and physicians.

  12. David Kurtz says:

    Hey Mike–This is off-topic, but I was wondering if you might want to give us a preview of the other WVU fall sports–soccer (men and women),volleyball, etc.–before the football team gets going again? Some of us are interested in all WVU sports, and summertime might be the best time to give them some attention. Keep up the good work!

  13. lowercase jeff says:

    #istandwithkurtz

  14. Down South says:

    If we are compiling a list of topics to get us from now until August, it might be nice to get a look at where construction stands on the new baseball stadium.

  15. Philip says:

    we’ve got ‘em right where we want ‘em, boys.

  16. Philip says:

    i never get the quote right.

    “they’ve got us right where we want them.”

  17. Woody says:

    TCU plays defense. That is the difference. And last year WVU played no defense and not much offense. And they lost at Kansas. And blew a 24 point lead vs. Iowa State. That should be enough put the doubt on WVU’s ability.