The first USA/Today Coaches Poll has ranked West Virginia 11th. The Mountaineers finished 18th in the final 2011 season poll following their 70-33 win over Clemson in the Orange Bowl.
This will be the Mountaineers first season in the Big 12 Conference after playing in the Big East Conference for a number of years.
The two teams that played in last season’s BCS bowl were ranked first and second in this year’s initial poll. LSU, which lost to Alabama in that BCS bowl, was placed atop the poll. The Crimson Tide, the defending national champions, landed in second place.
Alabama actually received more first-place votes from the 59 head coaches that comprise the 2012 board of voters. Coach Nick Saban’s Tide had 20 first-place votes. Southern California, which was third in the first poll, drew 19 first-place votes and the Bayou Bengal Tigers of Coach Les Miles had 18 first-place votes.
Oklahoma was fourth and Oregon was fifth.
Georgia finished sixth and Florida State was seventh.
Rounding out the Top 10 were Michigan, South Carolina, and Arkansas.
Other Big 12 teams in the Top 25 were Texas (15th), TCU (17th), Oklahoma State (19th), and Kansas State (21st). Baylor and Texas Tech were among the “others receiving votes”.
WVU’s Dana Holgorsen is one of the 59 coaches on the voting panel. Rich Rodriguez, in his first season at Arizona, is also on the panel.
Schools under major NCAA or conference sanctions cannot receive votes. There are three schools in that category — Ohio State, Penn State, and North Carolina.