The Associated Press released its 2020 preseason poll on Monday, and to call it unusual would be an understatement.
The poll ranked the nation’s top 25 college football programs as members of the Associated Press saw them. However, none of the teams associated with the conferences that have canceled fall sports were removed from the running, leaving nine teams that will not compete this fall ranked in the top 25.
Pitt was not among the AP’s top 25 teams. In fact, the Panthers did not even receive a single vote despite fielding one of the nation’s top defenses in 2019 and posting a respectable 8-5 record. However, the defense took a hit when 2019 All-American Jaylen Twyman opted out, and questions linger about Pitt's offense.
Despite Pitt’s exclusion, the ACC still placed three programs in the top 25, including Clemson at No. 1, temporary member Notre Dame at No. 10 and North Carolina at No. 18. While Clemson and Notre Dame are traditionally strong teams, North Carolina has averaged four wins per season over the last three years and went 7-6 in 2019. It was North Carolina’s first winning record since 2016.
In addition to the nine teams in the top 25, six more non-participating programs received votes, including Arizona State, Boise State, California, Indiana, Northwestern and Washington, bringing the total number of soon-to-be-ineligible teams represented to 15.
Ralph D. Russo of the Associated Press noted that all 130 FBS teams were eligible for the preseason poll, but he did not elaborate on why that was the case. He did note that once the season starts, only the 76 remaining teams will be eligible to receive votes in the poll.
Considering 46 teams received votes in the preseason poll and Pitt will be one of 39 Power Five programs playing football in 2020, the team may well receive votes in the near future. However, with Pitt getting overlooked by AP voters in favor of UAB and sub-.500 teams from 2019 like Florida State, Miami, Mississippi State and TCU, nothing is guaranteed.