MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — While Ohio State was THE unanimous No. 1 choice in the AP’s preseason poll Sunday, those 61 media voters almost reached a consensus on West Virginia not being ranked at all.
Except for one.
The Mountaineers received a single 25th-place vote courtesy of Rustin Dodd, the Kansas beat writer for the Kansas City Star. He explained his rationale to MetroNews:
“To be completely transparent, my vote for West Virginia was sort of a ‘flier’ prediction. I was looking for somebody to fill that No. 25 spot, and while I also ranked TCU, Baylor, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma, I thought the Big 12 was a little under-represented. I like West Virginia’s defensive potential and Dana Holgorsen is always going to put together an offense that can score points. I also liked that most of the computer projections have West Virginia somewhere in the 25-40 range, so they’ll be in the mix. Are they a top 25 team? We’ll see. But I think they might finish in the top half of the Big 12, which should get any team some top-25 consideration.”
As Dodd referenced, he voted four other Big 12 teams in his preseason top 25—TCU at No. 2, Baylor at No. 4, Oklahoma at No. 19 and Oklahoma State at No. 20.
Among other voters from within the Big 12 footprint—Kirk Bohls of the Austin-American Statesman, Tim Griffin of the San Antonio Express-News, Jimmy Burch of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and John Shinn of The Norman Transcript—all ranked TCU and Baylor in their top five.
Then there’s the contrarian view from Charleston Gazette-Mail columnist Mitch Vingle, who isn’t necessarily buying either of the Big 12’s preseason favorites. He’s starting Baylor at No. 11 and TCU way down at 17th, the only voter who has the Frogs outside the top 10.
West Virginia hasn’t appeared in the preseason poll since 2012, when it checked in at No. 11 riding a momentous wave from destroying Clemson in the Orange Bowl.
Of course, the AP poll was rendered somewhat meaningless after extracting itself from the BCS formula in 2005—better to cover the news as opposed to generating it, right? That doesn’t erase its purpose as an interesting talking point from week to week, or a reason for fans to practice clamoring before the season kicks off.
Feel free to weigh in below on who’s overrated and who’s being snubbed.