Today, Mark Schlabach of ESPN published his college football Post-Spring Top 25. In it, he has WVU ranked #14. Schlabach had WVU unranked in his Pre-Spring Top 25. The jump stems from how good the Mountaineers looked under Dana Holgorsen's new offense. Here is what Schlabach had to say:
14. West Virginia Mountaineers (Previous ranking: NR)
On the field, West Virginia's transition to coach-in-waiting Dana Holgorsen's spread offense seemed to be pretty seamless during the spring. Quarterback Geno Smith threw for 388 yards with four touchdowns in Friday night's spring game (albeit against the No. 2 defense), and Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey looked like big-play weapons. Whether WVU's progress carries over into the 2011 season might depend on what happens behind closed doors. Can Holgorsen coexist with Mountaineers coach Bill Stewart, who wasn't exactly ready to retire after the 2011 season? WVU must still find a No. 1 tailback and replace seven starters on defense. The Mountaineers are going to score a ton of points on offense with Holgorsen at the controls, which will probably be enough to send Stewart out with a Big East title.
Although the offense rolled over the 2nd-Team Defense under Geno Smith, WVU has a few question marks headed into the fall. ESPN's Big East blogger, Brian Bennett has a dissenting view of the Mountaineers high ranking.
Bennett believes that the Mountaineers deserved to be ranked in the Top 25, just not as high as #14. He points out concerns in the kicking game that arose during the spring to go along with replacing Noel Devine and 7 starters on defense. The question of how Stewart and Holgorsen will coexist this season is a good one, but I don't see this team imploding because of it. If things look like they're heading in the wrong direction, I think that Oliver Luck would step in at some point.
Bennett believes that the ceiling is high for the Mountaineers and should be the favorite to win the Big East next season, and I agree. If the offense can look as good as it did in the Spring Game during the Big East regular season, and even if the defense falters, I can't see anyone who can outscore WVU. If it's a 'first to 40' contest, then I'd bet on the Mountaineers in every game judging from the early returns. Louisville, PITT, and Cincinatti all have their question marks on offense and could be good enough to put a number of points on the board, but if the EerRaid (that or MountainAirs) is rollin', it won't matter.
Schlabach's Top 25 did not include any other Big East teams. TCU, who will join the conference after next season, was ranked #22.