The Bottom Line
By Bill Nestor
Now that the Democrats and the republicans have finally settled on their top picks we can finally start to get down to business. It’s Donald and Hillary that will square off and in just a few short months of mudslinging and campaigning we will have a winner. Until we have the climax of a new president we need something to keep our interest. Luckily we have polls that will keep us in the know until then.
Luckily for West Virginia football fans there is a measuring stick that lets everyone know just where the Mountaineers currently stand-the Big 12 Football Media Poll. Who better to comprise a list of conference teams from the top to the bottom than the media? They follow their respective squads like a top notch nurse – keeping their fingers on the pulse of these programs at all times. They are in the know concerning injuries, eligibility and trend. They perform the eye test at practices where the general public cannot attend. Sometimes they have conversations with coaches off of the record that provides valuable insight into coaching strategies. They are the insiders.
The 2016 poll has the Mounties at #7 just ahead of Kansas State, Iowa State, and Kansas. The top five are 1) Oklahoma 2) TCU 3) Oklahoma State 4) Baylor 5) Texas. Last season WVU was picked to finish the year at #6 but climbed one spot and wound up in 5th place. The Sooners have been consistent on the football field and in this poll as well. Oklahoma has been tabbed to claim the crown in all but one campaign since the Mountaineers entered Big12 Conference play.
There are many people that don’t believe in the power of polls. Just ask around – take your own poll. However, I feel strongly about the power of polling. Almost if not all of what is said about every major college team is utilized in one form or another to motivate players to perform at the highest level. A quality coaching staff can spin the numbers in their favor regardless of where their team is ranked.
A higher ranked team has a bull’s-eye on their back and every week they will get the best “punch” from their opponent. Coaches will preach the need for focus and consistency in players. They won’t be able to take one play – let alone one week off – regardless of the level of competition. Fear is also a great motivator for many. If a team has worked hard to get to the top then they don’t want to be knocked off of the pedestal. The confidence factor also helps the top of the top. If everyone else believes in you then it must be true.
Teams such as this upcoming edition of the “Eers” tend to rally around each other, looking to draw close together as a more cohesive unit. Coaches will use the phrase – “It’s us against the world”. An underdog is always dangerous because they are expected to lose. It’s just a hunch but I would say that Mountaineer Head Coach, Dana Holgorsen and his group feel a little disrespected. There are several key players returning and there are a solid group of talented newcomers that could help plug some of the holes that need filled.
There could be a chip on this teams shoulder. It is a slap in the face and a downright embarrassment to the program. The Mountaineers could play angry and it might be just what they need to put them over the top.
Some early season wins would help WVU gain confidence which could help them “Trump” this poll.
That will do it for now. Until next week…take care and God Bless!