THE VIEWS FROM HERE: n When the final college football polls surfaced early Tuesday morning, there was some consternation among WVU fans that their Mountaineers finished but No. 17 in the Associated Press Top 25 and No. 18 in the coaches' poll.
It's understandable, considering the way West Virginia vaporized Atlantic Coast Conference champ Clemson by 70-33 in the Orange Bowl. As the Mountain State's voter, I placed WVU at No. 14. Hard to ignore such a statement by the Mountaineers.
If, however, you consider WVU's season and those ranked ahead of the Mountaineers, you'll see there's not that much issue to take - with a couple exceptions.
Alabama, LSU and Oklahoma State clearly constituted the top tier this past season, and there's little to suggest WVU should have been ranked above Oregon, Arkansas, USC, Stanford, Boise State, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Michigan and Baylor.
Let's narrow the examination, though, to the next grouping. I placed WVU over TCU - and justifiably so. The Mountaineers lost to No. 2 LSU, hurt themselves with a bad road loss to Syracuse before the somewhat surprising home loss to Louisville. WVU, according to the final Sagarin computer ranking, had the nation's 57th-toughest schedule. Keep in mind, however, the incredibly impressive Orange Bowl win.
TCU had the 86th-best schedule, lost to Baylor and SMU - and defeated Louisiana Tech in its bowl by a mere 31-24. Yet the Horned Frogs were ranked No. 14 in the AP poll and No. 13 by the coaches.
Meanwhile, I, and any clear-thinking voter, also had WVU ahead of Virginia Tech. Somehow the Hokies, who lost twice to Clemson, were placed a spot ahead of WVU in the coaches' poll. Tech also lost its bowl and had the nation's No. 59-rated schedule.
Otherwise, though, one can't argue too loudly against those voted above WVU. Kansas State, like WVU, lost three games this season, including its bowl. But the Wildcat losses were to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and, in that bowl, Arkansas. K-State's schedule was ranked No. 8 nationally.
Oklahoma, like WVU, had a bad loss, its to Texas Tech. But the Sooners' other losses were to Baylor and OSU. In the Sagarin ratings, OU finished No. 4, largely based on its No. 6 strength of schedule.
Also, Conference USA's Houston was ranked ahead of the Mountaineers in the coaches' poll. One can certainly yell about that, but, again, not too loudly. The Cougars had the 97th best schedule, but only lost to No. 20 Southern Miss, won 13 games and soundly defeated Penn State in its bowl by 30-14.
Oh, and if you're really curious, the highest WVU was ranked by voters in the AP poll was No. 11, while the lowest was No. 21.
A couple other notes? Well, the Southeastern Conference held its annual showcase in the BCS title game, but, according to Sagarin, the nation's top conference was the Big 12, set to be WVU's new home. The nation's top schedules belonged to league members Kansas and Iowa State.
WVU was ranked No. 22 by the computer and Marshall No. 79 with the 56th-toughest schedule.