During Tuesday's weekly luncheon with the media, someone asked TCU coach Gary Patterson if he voted Oklahoma No.1 in this week's coaches poll.
"I voted them No.1,'' he said. "To be honest, I also voted us in the top 25.''
Patterson then shared his thoughts on the top 25 rankings. Here's Part 1, unfiltered:
"It's not something that's upsetting but you know it's interesting that you penalize people for dropping out of the top 25. I'm not saying that we deserve it one way or the other. I'm not sure. I think it's kind of interesting that you go and you have a USC team that gets beat by Oregon State, that gets beat by Stanford, who gets beat by us and they drop eight ranks.
"We play the No.2 team in the nation and at the time (Oregon State) played USC, the No.1 team in the nation. And they don't drop out of the rankings, but we drop out. There's still people that voted for us. You know me, I don't care about all that stuff until November, or December. But, I mean, you penalize people. Everybody's upset cause nobody will play somebody really good. They won't go out and go play at somebody else's stadium and go play those kind of games. So how should TCU do it? Should TCU play somebody that you have more of a 50-50 chance with?"
(Pause real quickly. First, Patterson does care, and it's obvious. I appreciate his frankness, and I wish more coaches were like that. Second, I think he does have a point in terms of people who don't schedule difficult teams. It's easy as a powerhouse to schedule cupcakes, pad your stats and play it safe. But I guarantee most fans admire powerhouses who take big risks. They also respect those teams like TCU and Fresno State - whose motto is "anybody, any time, any place" - who aren't afraid to schedule powerhouses.)
Patterson continued to praise Oklahoma on Tuesday for their success and tradition. He was also proud of how his team wasn't intimidated and played hard all game. As a coach, he said, "that's all you can ask your kids to do."
"People don't want to play Ohio State, they don't want to play USC, they don't want to play anyone that always ends up in the top eight in the country,'' Patterson said. "You don't want to go play them. Unless you have to play them in conference. And we're fortunate enough in a couple weeks we've got (BYU), who's (eighth) from our conference."
At the end of his press conference, I asked Patterson if his frustration from dropping out of the top 25 is due in part to voters possibly forgetting about the national attention that's been centered around the improvement of the Mountain West Conference, and not taking that into consideration. His answer (part 2):
"I'm not frustrated by that. I'm frustrated that we didn't win. I don't have any control over the top 25. My point on that was...my point was that I think everybody needs to be treated equally. That you shouldn't get brownie points by what conference you come from. It doesn't matter. Either you're a certain level of team or not. You're not all of a sudden a better team cause you come from a certain conference.
"I'm not saying we should be in the top 25. My point is I think all anybody's looking for - not just TCU - is a balanced chance. I mean is a loss to Oklahoma by TCU worse than Illinois beating Louisiana-Lafayette by (three points)? It's how you look at it.
"(Illinois is) not in the top 25 now, cause they got beat this last week. My point is, nothing against coach Zook and Illinois, perception is reality. (The Mountain West has) got a chance to do that again Thursday night. We had a chance Saturday against Oklahoma. Utah's got a chance Thursday night against Oregon State to prove that point again. How well we do in that ballgame will be the perception of what everybody thinks."
It's a nice wish to want fairness in the polls, but Patterson himself said it: Perception is reality.
The Mountain West has proved it's making strides in its 10th year, but it's up to teams to continue to improve and be competitive on a consistent basis if the conference hopes to gain more legitimacy and credibility with voters.