MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The bar is low for Neal Brown in his first season at West Virginia — nearly as low as you can go.
The Mountaineers were picked eighth in the Big 12 preseason poll, which the conference released Wednesday. If the season were to play out as predicted, it would be West Virginia’s lowest finish since 2013, when the Mountaineers went 2-7 in league play and 4-8 overall. The poll is voted on by media members who cover the Big 12.
Oklahoma finished atop the league’s preseason poll for the seventh time since 2011. The Sooners have won the past three conference championships.
The Sooners have a league-high six players on the preseason all-Big 12 team as well as the projected newcomer of the year in quarterback Jalen Hurts, who transferred from Alabama. Oklahoma received a whopping 68 first-place votes on the 77 ballots used for the poll. The other nine first-place votes went to Texas.
West Virginia’s low standing is a reflection of the team’s lack of experience under its first-year head coach.
The Mountaineers are last in the league when it comes to the percentage of offensive yards returning from last season and ninth in the number of career starts for offensive linemen. On defense, West Virginia ranks eighth in the league in the percentage of tackles returning from last season.
Kansas State and perennial punching bag Kansas are the only two teams picked lower than West Virginia.
The bottom four teams in this year’s poll all have first-year head coaches. In addition to Brown, this year will see the debuts of Matt Wells (Texas Tech), Chris Klieman (Kansas State) and Les Miles (Kansas).
Big 12 Preseason Poll
1. Oklahoma (68) — 761
2. Texas (9) — 696
3. Iowa State — 589
4. TCU — 474
5. Oklahoma State — 460
6. Baylor — 453
7. Texas Tech — 281
8. West Virginia — 241
9. Kansas State — 191
10. Kansas — 89