Expect parity in Big East preseason poll
The Big East's preseason media football poll will be unveiled Tuesday morning, and it's a safe bet that this year's predictions will show more parity than in any of the four seasons since USF joined the league in 2005.
In each of the previous four seasons, the preseason favorite has garnered at least 16 of the 24 media votes -- three journalists who cover each school -- and not once since 2005 have more than three teams gotten first-place votes. Over the course of four years, of 96 total first-place votes cast, all but four have gone to West Virginia (58) and Louisville (34) -- in the last two preseasons, West Virginia has gotten 42 of a possible 48 first-place votes.
That should change Tuesday, where a wide-open race for the Big East crown could have four or even five different teams netting first-place votes. USF and Pittsburgh got a single vote each last season, and Rutgers got one vote in 2007 -- all three of those should pluck votes away from West Virginia, and reigning champion Cincinnati, despite losing 10 starters on defense, could draw first-place votes of its own, thanks to confidence on coach Brian Kelly and quarterback Tony Pike.
USF has the league's best-known offensive and defensive players in seniors Matt Grothe and George Selvie, who will represent the Bulls in Rhode Island for the league's preseason media gathering. How high can the Bulls finish in the media poll? The Bulls have moved up in each of their seasons -- picked seventh in 2005, fifth in 2006, fourth in 2007 and second last season. My guess? Third for the Bulls in a five-team logjam atop the standings ... here's my ballot, which I unveiled way back in June.