Brett McMurphy of Stadium released his official AP preseason ballot today and for the second straight year, he left out the UCF Knights. Leaving UCF out or ranked lower than expected has become a common theme from McMurphy throughout time but what really surprised me and many others was that Memphis was ranked #24 in his poll.
Here’s my AP preseason ballot: Nos. 1-3 Clemson, Georgia, Alabama; Nos. 23-25 Northwestern, Memphis, Army. AP poll released Monday https://t.co/Wxl1i1VqZK— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) August 13, 2019
I reached out to get an idea of why UCF wasn’t on his ballot and to his credit, he responded.
Here’s what he had to say:
What is the primary reason for leaving UCF out of your preseason top 25 for the second season in the row?
“Whether I ranked a team last year has nothing to do with ranking/not ranking them this season. Why is UCF not in the Top 25? UCF lost the most productive player in school history at QB and also his back-up to unfortunate injuries. Brandon Wimbush takes over, after completing 53 percent of his passes last year with TD/INT rate of 4-6 (by comparison Ian Book was 68 percent; 19-7 for the Irish, if you wanted to blame the Irish’s offensive style for Wimbush’s numbers) so I believe the offense will regress for UCF this year. The defense was 13th worst in the nation against the run last year and returns only five starters. The defense probably will be the same or worse than last year, while the offense won’t be as productive.”
Did you take into consideration that UCF has beat Memphis 12 straight times and that Memphis lost their top 2 running backs? If so, why don’t you think this matters?
“It doesn’t matter if UCF has beat Memphis 100 times in a row or lost 100 in a row. It doesn’t impact where I rank teams. The Tigers did lose two good backs as you mention, but return Patrick Taylor, who rushed for 1,122 yards last year. Not bad. Running back depth is something I don’t put a great deal of weight into compared with the quarterback position when evaluating a team. More importantly for Memphis, the Tigers return QB Brady White, who led the AAC last year with 3,296 yards passing.”
What advantages do Army and Memphis have over UCF and Cincinnati who both finished in the top 25 last season?
“Whether a team finished in/out of the Top 25 a year ago has nothing to do with where I rank them this season. If so we would just rank the teams where they finished last season. In my final ranking last year, I had Washington State No. 10 and Kentucky No. 11. Neither team is in my rankings this year. I probably have 10 teams unranked that I ranked in my final ballot last year.”
Do you have a vendetta against UCF or their fanbase that is influencing your voting or do you truly believe they’re not that good?
“Yes I have a vendetta against UCF. I have a vendetta against ALL 130 teams - well, except Clemson, which I voted No. 1. I based my Top 25 on which teams I believe are the best 25 starting the season. It’s not a prediction on how I think they’ll be ranked at the end of the season. One last thing: it’s my opinion. That’s all. If you disagree, great; if you agree, great.”
And to the UCF fans that have been enraged by this, here’s what he has to say:
“I had to respond to the hundreds of emails I received from people celebrating the fact I didn’t have UCF in my Top 25. And, sorry to say, I didn’t look at my Twitter mentions so I missed the ‘worked up’ UCF fans.”
Thanks to Brett McMurphy for his responses and his candidness. Give him a follow at @Brett_McMurphy. The AP Poll comes out at noon on August 19th.