Last week, if you were paying attention, Underdog Dynasty quietly released our CUSA Pre-Season poll, where we picked Marshall to win the whole damn thing, despite late 2014 runs by WKU and also a little thing called the Actual CUSA Coaches Poll.
While the SBC writers has previously run a discussion on their own poll, amongst themselves, the consensus for the CUSA poll was more-or-less on point. With a few exceptions.
After actually SEEING the poll, a few of the writers weigh in. You can review the original poll here.
Andrew G. Thomas, WKU Writer:
How can anyone rank Marshall at #1 when they lost Cato and lost to the Tops at home last season? Doughty is ready. I hope you all are, too. *drops mic*
That was the entirely of his response. We asked for 3-4 paragraphs and this was literally all he had to say. Points for brevity.
This is, however, a fair point, and if WKU plays the entire season the way they played the last half of last season, they could be pretty hard to stop. They're also only a half-dozen years removed from FCS, which is perhaps what made the rest of the pollsters hesitate. Andrew is in good company, though, as the actual CUSA coaches agree with him.
Jared Kalmus, UTSA Writer:
So my poll was pretty brilliant and everyone seemed to follow my lead. The only team that was more than a spot or two off for me was Old Dominion. That's understandable because they're definitely a hard team to predict heading into this season. Taylor Heinicke was everything to this program last year. I just see too much of 2014 UTSA in this team to have any confidence in them.UTSA was able to compete above their weight class by having an experienced quarterback that made few mistakes. ODU did the same last year thanks to Heinicke's heroics. ODU returns a ton of experience despite Heinicke's graduation, just like UTSA in 2014. ODU's talent level is still a step below the competition but it was hard to see last year as Heinicke covered for them. The Monarchs are going to be a great, great CUSA program but 2015 will prove to be a reality shock and a short term step backwards for ODU.
WKU may be new-ish to FBS, but ODU is even newer, so it's likely nobody is paying attention to them at all... except Underdog Dynasty. 2015 sees a step back for a number of programs, and we hope the Monarchs defy expectations. And they'll certainly defy the expectations of at least one writer here...
Trey Lower, Charlotte Writer:
I was somewhat surprised that Old Dominion was as low as they were. The Monarchs may have lost their quarterback, but they bring a lot of pieces back, including a talented running back in Ray Lawry, and their new QB Shuler Bentley appears to be very good from what I’ve seen. The offense was the primary reason I voted them so high, but I can understand where the defensive issues would bring down the Monarchs’ rank. I do think though that Coach Bobby Wilder has enough pieces to at least get to a bowl game out of the CUSA, because it’s not like ODU is the only team with these minute issues in the conference. Therefore, while I was surprised to vote Old Dominion the highest, I am glad I went against the grain to pick them where I did.
This fall, heads won't just crash into each other on the field-- someone's going to be eating crow. ODU could indeed be the wildcard... what say you, gentle reader?
Nic Lewis, Site Manager
So I will admit that my ranking WKU #1 (just barely) ahead of Marshall is based on a few things -- WKU didn't have as good a record last season, but they played a tougher schedule. Same will be true this year, but WKU returns a bunch of talent, including Brandon Doughty, who lit the conference on fire the second half of last season. Marshall plays an even weaker season than last year, PLUS they lost the two most important players on their offense (Cato and Jasperse). I think all that makes WKU the fave over Marshall.
Secondly, I question Trey's ranking because there is absolutely NO WAY that La Tech is the FIFTH best team in this conference. They were the third best last year, and while I don't think they make some giant leap forward, I don't think anybody else is going to improve enough for them to drop that far. Just like there is no way that Old Dominion will finish right behind them.Then again, Trey is better off than Jeremy, who is either smoking crack or completely didn't understand the poll to have ranked Southern Miss SEVENTH. That said, I personally am convinced that they could easily be better than UNT, FIU, UNCC and UTSA. They also could be worse than everyone who isn't Charlotte.
Nic knows his stuff and you're wise to listen to him, provided you can stand the constant barrage of sarcasm and four-letter words. You heard it here-- CUSA finishes 2015 as a tasty sandwich with WKU and Charlotte as the bread. Wait wut.
Adam Woodyard, UNT Writer and Discussion Wrangler
Look, I'm the low guy on the totem pole, in every sense except I don't write for Charlotte (kidding). Well, I mean, no, I don't write for Charlotte, but I feel a kinship with all the writers keeping an eye on this poll because we are the Underdogs of Underdog Dynasty. Yeah, Bama can't even see Marshall in their rearview, but Marshall is still a part of the national conversation that covers all the conferences, and there's about 2 square inches crammed with side-notes about we happy few, the bottom half of this poll, FIU, UNT, Charlotte, FAU, and anyone ranked below UAB's 2014 6-6.
You pick up a college preview magazine, or go to a fansite, these writers have spent months poring over every off-season move and coaching change in the SEC, the PAC-12, the Big Ten. I guarantee you they spent five minutes on the G5 because, "whatever man, they don't count, they're not in the playoff picture, so who cares."
Everyone on this site cares, and we know these schools inside and out. What's frustrating about CUSA is up until a couple years ago, the conference champion got a national spotlight by playing an SEC team in their bowl game. That did not go well, but what else are we even playing for if we just get to play whoever won the MAC Championship? The pecking order is supposed to be P5, MW, AAC, CUSA, MAC, Sun Belt. That's how this works. Apparently, it's no longer just individual schools who are confounding expectations. This season could smash the entire pecking order, and I am NOT COMFORTABLE being an underdog to frikkin'.... Western Michigan.
WHAT SURPRISED ME. That WKU rocketed up that fast at all. I don't care how they finished last year, they've been sucking it since 2009, but I guess the new coach is the real deal. And Brandon Doughty is the realest of deals; if the Hilltoppers are playing on a screen near you this season, you sit there and you watch it.
Rice surprised the hell out of me, because Rice, but in keeping with Subconscious Homer Bias, I'll point out that even though I freely admit North Texas is terrible this year, there is no way we're as bad as FIU. No way. None. The only thing keeping FIU out of the basement is is a Charlotte-shaped cushion. Mark it.
Let's get this season started already. There's nothing I want more than even one team to totally prove us wrong and see, like, USM go 10-2 (they won't), or MTSU sneak in and win it all (ehhhhh). SOMETHING. Give is some surprises man.
But we're not wrong. We know our stuff.