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Bearcats Breakfast 8.2.11

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Us media types tend to think very highly of ourselves and our knowledge of the subject matter which we cover. Some times deservedly, many others irrationally.

In sports, understanding the situation and the teams you cover doesn't at all correspond to predicting actual success. Handicapping yes, but predicting is impossible. There's a reason your boss' wife who picks her favorite mascots wins the NCAA pool at your office every year.

There's a reason last year's national champion began the year outside the preseason Top 20. There's a reason last year's preseason No. 5 team in the country finished 5-7 (Texas).

Sports are more unpredictable than a blind date.

So, while the Big East football media poll will create plenty of fodder for us scribes, the only thing it shouldn't do it be held as a ledger of expectations. This is what a bunch of writers looking a pieces of paper with heights, weights and stars on them while recollecting a few games from a year ago sent in an email before crushing another free buffet.

And I include myself in that depressing mix.

But, we will have a month until the season opens, so we need something to talk about, right?

Anyway, here is the Big East media poll that somehow was leaked last night. (Who even attempts to find this leak?)

1. WVU         188
2. Pitt            162
3. USF           151
4. Syracuse     98
5. Cincinnati    96
6. UConn         76
7. Louisville     60
8. Rutgers       33

All fair enough. West Virginia, on paper, has the most talent returning and a top quarterback to go with it. Interestingly, the top two teams in the poll own first-year head coaches. Of the three first-year head coaches in the league last season, two programs fell below expectations (UC, USF) and another jumped above it (UL), but none finished above .500 in conference.

But back to why this list of teams and numbers above should mean as much as if I ranked them by which school makes the best chili.

Take a look at last year's preseason poll:

1. Pitt
2. UC/WVU
4. UConn
5. Rutgers
6. USF
7. Syracuse
8. Louisville

How did they actually finish?

1. UConn
2. WVU
3. Pitt
4. Syracuse
5. Louisville
6. USF
7. UC
8. Rutgers

The winner was fourth, a second-place selection seventh and the two last-place picks in the middle. But other than, pretty accurate. Yikes.

The last year that the Big East media correctly predicted the eventual champion? 2007. We're on a three-year losing streak. And, to be fair, picking WVU to repeat with Pat White and Steve Slaton returning wasn't exactly rocket science.

Here is the list of champs with their corresponding preseason media poll spot:

2010: UConn (4)
2009: UC (3)
2008: UC (5)
2007: WVU (1)

Yep, that's right, the last time UC was picked to finish 5th in the preseason poll was 2008. They won the title and went to the Orange Bowl that year. I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin.

The parity within the Big East has grown exponentially in the last three years and few more evident than this season where you could make a legitimate argument for almost every team (sorry, Rutgers) to win the title.

Considering the last three champs were ranked either 3,4 or 5, I guess that makes USF, Syracuse and UC the odds on favorites to play in the BCS? Yeah, something like that.

Moral of the story: The BE Preseason Media Poll came out today. Move along, people. Nothing to see here.

Let's eat...

--- Hey, look! It's Dan Hoard! He's at the Big East Media Days and he's reporting for your viewing pleasure. Bengals, Bearcats, Pawtucket Red Sox? He's the Swiss Army Knife of modern sports broadcasting.

--- More lovely GoBearcats.com
video. This time talking defense with co-DC/LBs coach Jon Jancek. Can't talk with Jancek without talking about his undeniable leader, JK Schaffer. Amid a sea of youth and potential on that defense, Schaffer brings a consistency invaluable to this defense's progression.

--- Tim Adams isn't done with you yet! Part III of his interview with Butch Jones.

--- I have been and will continue to pound the pavement on the DL Derek Wolfe for Heisman campaign. OK, not quite, but I think the guy has been incredibly underrated by every outlet I have read.

Andrea Adelson places him at No. 21 player in the Big East. I'm happy he made it and Adelson gives him more love than most, but I still would place him in the top 15.

--- A Big East hoops team coming under fire for a weak non-conference schedule? Bearcats fans may be familiar with the storyline coming out of UConn.

Only a few of UC's non-con games are known right now, but judging by the success of last season and conviction Mick Cronin has had in how he handled the schedule last year, I would expect UC's to look much like the Huskies' does. Three or four major conference opponents (XU, Georgia among them) a few in the middle (Marshall) and the standard run of smaller schools.

--- Jason King at Yahoo! updated his preseason Top 25 college hoops poll. He has UC at No. 19 and Xavier at No. 20. Can't tell you how much I am looking forward to the Crosstown Shootout this year.

Here's King's graph on UC. Not exactly revolutionary stuff, but there it is anyway.

"The Bearcats won their first 15 games last season against a collection of mostly no-name opponents. But they proved their legitimacy by going 11-7 in the Big East and then waxing Missouri in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. Mick Cronin's team returns its top four scorers, including forward Yancy Gates (11.9 points, 6.9 rebounds)."

--- Some randomness...

--- That's one way to celebrate grandma. At least they didn't latch her onto the trailer hitch.

--- Blog favorite Dana O'Neil captures the peculiar rise of Brian Gregory to Georgia Tech. I'm sure UD alum Mo Egger wouldn't use "peculiar," but I won't put words in his mouth.

--- Spent 40 minutes this morning reading this piece on the Seal Team 6 operation killing Osama bin Laden. Just a fascinating read. (H/t Jeremy Martin)

--- Local Kings of Leon fans are looking for something else to do on Aug. 24 since the band canceled their US Tour. Too bad, would have been a fun show.

--- "The Milwaukee Brewers: Beer, sausages, Prince Fielder and other things that fat people like." Sports Pickle with 30 internal slogans of MLB teams.

--- Randy Moss playing in the MAC was like Yancy Gates spending next season in the CYO at St. Susanna. (Go Titans!)

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