The Pitt football team was ranked No. 21 in last week’s AP media Top 25 College Football Poll. And despite a win on Saturday over No. 24 Louisville, the Panthers actually dropped three spots in those rankings.
While the drop might seem confusing, it’s of course quite easy to understand. The poll previously did not include Big Ten and Pac 12 teams but added those teams with the expectation of them playing football this year. In all five teams were included, forcing Pitt down five spots. Take those out and you’ve got the Panthers at No. 19.
The good news is that while Pitt did fall in that poll, they moved into the Top 25 of the Coaches Poll. Previously unranked, the Panthers are now No. 25 in that poll. Pitt moved up in that one as that poll did actually include Big Ten teams already (it does not include the Pac 12 yet).
While the drop in the AP is frustrating, it was easy to see that this could happen. I expected the Panthers to maybe get a little more credit for beating another Top 25 team. But the Top 25 teams that lost were too high up that they weren’t going to fall past Pitt and the teams closer to them all won themselves, too. Another problem for Pitt is that Mississippi State, previously unranked, went out and shocked top ten LSU, so they had to get into the poll.
Pitt was not the only one to take a tumble in that poll, obviously. Several other teams won their games and also dropped as a result of the new teams being added.
The drop, nevertheless, annoyed some players. Safety Damar Hamlin had this to say on Twitter:
How do you go down in rankings after beating a “ranked team”.. when there’s teams ahead of us who lost to unranked teams & also teams who y’all haven’t even seen play football this season.. goofy asf. https://t.co/vBPUnfKrOa— (@HamlinIsland) September 27, 2020
I totally get where Hamlin is coming from here. I’m not going to tell him or other players that they can’t feel disrespected after scoring a nice win at home against what was previously a ranked team. Pitt played its collective heart and it’d be easy to feel as if you were invisible to voters despite playing a heck of a game against a ranked team.
But to me, the more important thing is that Pitt remained in the rankings. As long as you’re in the rankings, you’re on the national profile and get all of the little perks that come along with that. Your game gets picked on Gameday. The recruits see your name in the Top 25. Your school touts the ranking, generating more interest in the team. Your game gets covered on Sportscenter. At the end of the day — there’s really not much difference between No. 21 and No. 24.
There is, of course, a difference when you’re talking about maybe being ranked a bit higher. I mean, obviously a Top 10 or Top 15 team carries more prestige. And the other nice thing is, if you’re ranked that high, you are not likely to fall out of the polls. But No. 21 ... No. 24 — there’s no real difference there and a loss at either spot is probably going to send you out of the Top 25 most of the time.
For now it’s just nice to see Pitt still ranked and, heck, the players feeling a little disrespected probably isn’t a bad thing, either, if we’re being honest.