The 2015 preseason Amway Coaches Poll came today, and Utah just missed out making the top 25. They received 40 votes, which effectively ranks them No. 30. The complete top 25 can be found here. Six Pac-12 teams were ranked in the top 25, including four in the Pac-12 South. Oregon tops the list at No. 5. USC (No. 10). UCLA, (No. 14), Arizona State (No. 16), Stanford (No. 21), and Arizona (No. 22) are the other Pac-12 teams in the top 25. The Pac-12's six teams was second to the SEC, who had eight teams.
I think the reason that Utah is not getting as much preseason love as the Utes deserve is because of a few reasons. First, East Coast bias is definitely at play here. Teams in the SEC are almost always artificially inflated in the preseason, with 10 SEC teams receiving more votes than Utah. Another reason is that Utah struggled in the Pac-12 prior to 2014, going 5-7 two seasons in a row before finally having a breakout season in 2014. Coaches may want the Utes to prove last season was more than just a fluke, especially since all of their conference wins were decided by one score or less. Third, Utah has not had landed many highly regarded recruits in the last few classes. Much of the hype that can be attributed to the SEC schools (like Tennessee for example) and USC is due to the fact that they have brought in a lot of blue chip recruits in the last few classes that coaches expect to have big seasons. The coaching turnover in the offseason was also negated some of the positivity from the season, so some coaches may question how well Utah will perform after losing both coordinators. Lastly, while Utah fans know how talented Gionni Paul, Tevin Carter, Lowell Lotulelei, and many others are, they are not well known outside of Pac-12 country. Coaches who are not familiar with the Utes have likely only heard of Devontae Booker, Andy Phillips, and Tom Hackett. They also see losses of All American defensive end Nate Orchard and cornerback Eric Rowe and do not know the depth and talent Utah has at those positions.
I am not saying all of these reasons are valid concerns, but they could all cast enough doubt on the Utes in some coaches' eyes to feel they are not a top 25 team. Receiving votes is a marked upgrade from last preseason though, and a dominant performance against Michigan, a game that will have a lot of eyes from around the country watching, could easily propel Utah into the top 25. Utah will also have plenty of opportunities to move up in the polls if they take care of business and win games. They face two preseason top 10 teams (both on the road), Oregon and USC. They also will face a total of five teams ranked in the preseason (Oregon, USC, UCLA, ASU, and Arizona). Two of their nonconference opponents (Michigan with one and Utah State with four) are receiving votes as well. If Utah puts together an 8+ win regular season with the schedule they have this season, they will very likely be a fixture in the polls.