NEWPORT, R.I. — USF football was picked to finish sixth in the Big East when the conference's media preseason poll was released Wednesday.
While it's the lowest expectations for the Bulls since their Big East debut in 2005, that's of little consequence to players.
"You're going to look and be upset or happy with where you're at, but at the end of the day you have to look past it," senior C Sampson Genus said. "Even if you're ranked No. 1, you still have to look past it or somebody at the bottom of the poll will take you out. Once you get on the field, it's what you can accomplish there. It's how you finish it."
The Bulls essentially were picked where they finished last season — USF finished in a three-way tie for fourth last year but lost to Connecticut and Rutgers, who were picked to finish immediately ahead of them again. Pittsburgh was a nearly unanimous pick to win the league, getting 22 of 24 votes, but coach Dave Wannstedt said he thinks two-time defending champ Cincinnati is the team to beat.
"We're chasing Cincinnati," he said. "We're not going to overreact to the Big East preseason poll."
Bearcats LB JK Schaffer, whose team was tied for second in the poll with West Virginia, said Cincinnati gets much more out of wanting to defend a title than any motivation that comes from preseason predictions.
"If Coach Wannstedt is saying that, it says a lot," Schaffer said. "That means a lot more than looking at the polls. It feels pretty cool to still be the team people are chasing. We still like to say the Big East championship comes through Cincinnati."
INJURY UPDATE: WRs A.J. Love (knee) and Sterling Griffin (ankle) won't be part of Skip Holtz's 105-man roster in Vero Beach next week, though they will travel with the team. Holtz said they'll start attending meetings when classes begin Aug. 23, but neither is likely to play in the first few games.
"The earliest is probably going to be four or five games in a best-case scenario," Holtz said. "We'll know more as we get through camp."
THIS AND THAT: What was Genus' final lobster count from Monday night's clambake? "Six," he said. "I tried to be courteous. I could have eaten about 10." … Holtz has named five graduate assistants — former Bulls players Marquel Blackwell and Glenn Davis, coach Steve Bird, who was in the same position last year, former ECU walk-on Joe Sloan, his holder the past three seasons with the Pirates, and former Kansas State S Marcus Patton. … Holtz will address his summer transactions today, with a few scholarship players who won't be back and some signees who won't make it to campus in the fall. He'll also confirm new arrivals, including key transfers Colorado RB Darrell Scott, Notre Dame CB Spencer Boyd, Auburn RB Dontae Aycock, a former Chamberlain High standout, and East Carolina FB/TE Kevin Gidrey.