As always, comments and critiques can go in the comment thread. Final poll goes into the hopper at midnight Tuesday.
They have the best resume of any team so far this year, with wins over two top-20 teams. They don't have another opponent on the schedule with half the chops of the two they have so easily dispatched (they play NC State and Virginia later, but both of those teams are giant piles of FAIL). They are coached by Dr. Lou's kid. They're probably going to go 12-0 and make the BCS. So the question is: What the fuck do you do with East Carolina?
It's not like we didn't see the downfall coming for West Virginia and Virginia Tech. WfVU handed the head coaching job to a guy who has no experience in that position but won a bowl game against Oklahoma (which is beginning to look like a staggeringly easy thing to do). He is making an inexplicable move away from the RichROR spread option attack for a pass-oriented offense. Of course, he's doing it with Pat White and Noel Devine, which is sort of like having the 1995 Nebraska Cornhuskers run Texas Tech's offense.
Farmed out to prep school:
Miami, West Virginia, Central Michigan, South Carolina, Tennessee, Cincinnati
Georgia Tech, Boise State, Nebraska, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Kansas State, Central Michigan, Cincinnati, BYU
Iowa-FIU, Ohio State-Ohio (2nd half), Wake Forest-Ole Miss, USF-UCF, portions of Florida-Miami, BYU-Washington, Kansas-Louisiana Tech, Texas-UTEP
Virginia Tech, on the other hand, lost damn near everything after last season. Further, there may be something to the fact that the ACC was rotting from within last season and nobody truly recognized it. Just look at the postseason results (and yes, I know it's an imperfect indicator):
- Virginia Tech, who LSU pummelled earlier in the year, nevertheless wins the conference and then loses the Orange Bowl to Kansas, who - let's face it - wasn't THAT good.
- Clemson lost to underdog Auburn in the Peach Bowl.
- 60% of Florida State lost by a touchdown in the Music City Bowl to a Kentucky team that was clearly sliding down to the end of the regular season.
- Maryland loses to a thoroughly overrated Oregon State in the Emerald Bowl.
- Boston College, the Atlantic Division champs, nearly loses the Champs Sports Bowl to Michigan State, a thoroughly mediocre team from a thoroughly mediocre conference.
- Georgia Tech, a 7-point favorite, is shitkicked by Fresno State in the Humanitarian Bowl
- Virginia loses to Texas Tech at the Gator Bowl (completely excusable, because Mike Leach is a much, much, much, much better football coach than Al Groh).
- Wake Forest, which continues to be the exception, beat the hell out of UConn in the Meineke Bowl. That being said, it's UConn.
That's two wins in eight games, most of which were against allegedly inferior competition with slight location advantages. The warning signs were there, folks, and the full effects are only being felt now, as this house of cards collapses like Bear Stearns. (There is much more to be written on the effect of the Miami/FSU/Boston College defection to the ACC and its detrimental impact on the quality of play in both conferences, but that's better suited for the offseason.)
In fact, only one ACC team (Wake Forest at #23) and one Big East team (South Florida at #17) makes this week's poll. Both those teams took hits this week, mostly for making nailbiters out of games they probably should have won by double-digits. Georgia Tech is knocking on the door, but the fact that a young team running a completely foreign offensive system with ill-fitting personnel under a new head coach is almost certainly the second-best team in the conference should tell you something about the ACC.
Which brings us to East Carolina. If you look at it and breathlessly scream HOLY SHIT ECU BEAT WEST VIRGINIA AND VA TECH (as I think was everyone's immediate reaction Saturday) without considering just how mediocre those two teams may well be, they're bona fide top 10. On the other hand, if you think West Virginia is going through a transition approximately as painful as their former coach's at LMAOchigan, and Virginia Tech probably wasn't that good and hasn't been for a couple of years, they're probably worthy of a spot in the second half of the poll. The truth, as usual, probably lies somewhere in the middle. I have East Carolina at #13, an acknowledgement that the feat is impressive, but a reservation that it might not be quite as impressive as the names ECU beat would have us believe.
Yeah, that's Iowa at #21. Go ahead and call me a homer, but we're possibly seeing the effect of replacing players like Bryan Mattison and Al Young - who played hard but maxed out their ability - with far superior pure athletes like Adrian Clayborn and Shonn Greene. Defense was never a serious concern (outside of possibly the secondary), and it has lived up to its billing. The giant question marks going into this season were quarterback, running back, and offensive line. With the emergence of Greene and (this is almost certainly premature) Swingin' Dick Stanzi, and the apparent growth in the offensive line, there might be something to this team.
Someone in the Saturday open thread quoted the FIU radio announcers as "stunned" by how good Iowa was and openly claiming Iowa would kill Kansas. I don't quite buy that yet (as noted, comparing teams based on mutual opponents is dicey, especially in college football and especially early in the season). Still, I have to believe that the destruction of the opening cupcakes is better than the alternative, right? Right?
God damn it, I've drank the Kool-Aid again, haven't I?