Every summer, just prior to Fall camp opening, many outlets begin to reveal their preseason predictions for the upcoming college football season. This year, despite being the defending Coastal division champions, Pitt hasn’t been getting much respect in the majority of these prognostications. The vast majority, including Phil Steele, Athlon, and Bill Connelly’s (ESPN) S&P+ metric, have Pitt finishing right in the middle of the division at 4th. Sure enough when the official ACC Media Poll was released following the conference media days last month, Pitt was once again picked to finish 4th. Despite this, there is no reason to take this as a premature death knell to Pitt’s chances of a repeat Coastal title. This is because in addition to a rich history of the media being way off on teams in these preseason polls, it has also become a tradition for the ACC media to underrate Pitt.
The poll itself was unsurprising as a whole. Clemson was overwhelmingly picked to win the Atlantic division (and the ACC overall), while in true Coastal Chaos tradition every single team received at least one first place vote. Virginia was picked to win the Coastal after being picked to finish last in every preseason poll since 2014. This sets up a big game right off the bat for Pitt who play the Cavaliers in their first game on August 31st. If Pitt knocks them off to open the season, then they would immediately vault into consideration as a contender to win the division again. However, if they lose they’ll immediately be faced with an uphill climb.
While these polls don’t actually matter too much, they are indicative of a sense of disrespect that many Pitt fans feel the team gets from the national and local media. One could argue that this is a legitimate gripe, at least when it comes to the official media poll. As mentioned above, Pitt has consistently been underrated in the annual ritual compared with how their season turns out. Since joining the ACC in 2013, Pitt has on average been underrated by nearly two places in the final standings. From 2013-2018, Pitt’s average selected place in the preseason poll has been around 5th in the Coastal...
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