Yeah, it's on.
Ok, it's nothing we haven't heard before and certainly not to the degree we've seen at times, but still (the red meat can really be seen in the comments).
They started to lose me around #16, when Oregon came off the board. Then, at #17, I completely gave up on this fiasco.
Firstly, Oregon at 16th isn't entirely bad. Since the BCS was formed, the Ducks have surely cemented their position as one of the stronger BCS teams, right? So how is it a stretch to put them at 16th in this ridiculous ESPN draft?
I don't get it.
But what further confuses me is the statement that he fully gives up on the list with Utah's ranking at 17th.
Because West Virginia was ranked behind Utah? I can see them having a gripe with their ultimate spot (28th), but what have the Mountaineers done to be placed ahead of Utah?
They don't own a national championship.
They have the exact same BCS bowl record as the Utes (2-0).
They've not really outperformed Utah on a national scale over the past few years.
So where's the gripe with being placed behind Utah?
Maybe because they're not BCS?
I have no problem with their argument that their ranking was trash. I actually agree. West Virginia deserves to be higher than that and I wouldn't even bat an eye at placing them ahead of Utah. But then, I'd also concede they haven't done much more than the Utes over the span of their history and certainly not since the BCS began.
They might fall back on the broken and flawed argument that the Mountain West is weak (I can't take Big East fans seriously when they do this), but in the end, when it comes down to perception, who holds more weight right now? I'm going to guess it's not West Virginia.
But that's not a bad thing. It's something Utah faced when Urban Meyer bolted and it's not new territory for schools who lose their successful coach to a bigger and more known program. The Utes had to prove their success went beyond Meyer and in 2008, they did just that. West Virginia fell back a bit after Rich Rodriguez bolted for Ann Arbor and it's going to take more than just a 9-4 season to regain what was lost during their early-2008 struggles.
If Bill Stewart proves to be the right man for the job, they'll be back and this debate will become moot. However, until that point and since these rankings were based on potential, it's not hard to see why the Utes were rated higher than West Virginia.
Utah has won eight straight bowl games. This suggests they perform better on the national level than many teams and get it done in big games.
Utah is the only team in the BCS era to go undefeated twice. Not USC. Not Florida. Not Oklahoma and certainly not West Virginia.
West Virginia's highest poll finish in school history was 5th (reached twice -- 1988 and 2005). Utah's is 2nd.
This can change and if Stewart gets the ball rolling again, I'm sure it will. But it's hard to forget the fact they started 2008 ranked 8th and could only manage 9-wins with a team many thought would contend for a championship.
Hell, they didn't even win their own conference.
What ultimately bugs me, though, is the fact they seem so insulted their team is ranked behind the Utes. I could see this if they had dominated their conference for years, racked up national titles and finished in the top-ten routinely. Yet that isn't the case.
There was a great three-year window under Rodriguez from 2005-'07, however, beyond that, especially when you look at Don Nehlen's final seven seasons, they pretty much hummed along, but hardly did anything spectacular.
In fact, they had losing seasons in 1995, 1999 and 2000. One more than the Utes during a similar span.
Utah's record from 1990-2000 was 75-53, or a winning percentage of .585.
West Virginia's record from 1990-2000 was 72-54-2, or a winning percentage of .570.
I'm not seeing much of a difference.
From 2000 to 2008, Utah is 76-33, or a winning percentage of .697.
From 2000 to 2008, West Virginia is 77-35, or a winning percentage of .687
Again, not seeing much of a difference.
You'll have to go all the way back to the 80s to find a decade where the Mountaineers were actually better than the Utes.
Regardless, though, I do believe they deserve more praise than they received in ESPN's mock draft. But how are they really better than Utah?
The difference, of course, is that the Utes' undefeated season - rightfully or not - is still fresh in the minds of many. That's something no Mountaineer team has ever accomplished.