It’s impossible to rate anyone properly in college football, and trying to properly rate teams before they’ve even played a down is a fool’s errand. Every team has already been hit with either the dreaded overrated or the more supportive underrated tag. Somehow I’ve even seen Alabama, the No. 1 team in the country get called underrated. Sure it’s possible to underrate the greatest of all time at something, we as society probably still manage to underrate Dr. Pepper, the NCAA Football video games, and Tupac. But until I see Tupac come back from the dead (or Cuba), and line up under center for the Crimson Tide, Alabama can’t be called underrated this year.
Underrated is used to praise teams that have continually exceeded expectations or acknowledge those who don’t get enough respect. No team in a Power 5 conference has spent more time flying under the radar than Utah. The Utes have only been ranked in the preseason top 25 once since 2004, and yet they’ve finished in the top 25 five times, and in the top 5 twice. It’s not hard to see that Utah is good at outperforming seemingly always low expectations. The team is going to have to do it again this year. Utah currently sits outside the Top 25 teams in the country despite having finished the last season ranked 16th.
Utah as a program is underrated. Even most casual college football observers would acknowledge that. Calling the Utes underrated is supposed to be a compliment. And for the most part Kyle Whittingham has used that tag to build a culture around the program. Despite playing with the big boys in the Pac-12, there is still a “Nobody believes in us” mentality surrounding the team. That became very evident after Utah ascended to No. 3 in the country and was then an underdog to an unranked USC team. What happened during that game I don’t remember, either because I’ve blocked it from my mind or I smashed the T.V. while screaming like Tom Hanks in Castaway at some point during the second quarter, it doesn’t matter. The Utes still finished the season 9-3 and tied for third in the Pac-12. There was a chance Utah could play in the Holiday Bowl as the third best Pac-12 team, instead it ended up playing the Las Vegas Bowl, generally slotted for the sixth best team in the conference. Did reputation have something to do with where Utah ended up? That’s a good bet as they were beat out for the better bowls by USC, UCLA, and Washington State (?).
The point is Utah may be underrated, and that may be fine for some, but the Utes should strive for something better, being overrated. Being overrated is so much better than being underrated. Like a bad high school essay I’m going to hit you with a dictionary definition: when you are overrated you are getting more respect than you deserve. When you’re underrated you may be great but no one respects your greatness. Personally I think that my looks, humor, charm, muscles, and general amazingness are all underrated. For some reason no one else seems to think so. I don’t understand it, let’s get with the program everybody. Either way I would much rather people overrate these things about me.
Looking at this from the perspective of relationships, a person who is underrated generally ends up in the friend zone. A person who is overrated becomes the guy everyone looks at and wonders who he got a girl friend at all. The friend zone is horrible awful place to be. Having a girlfriend that isn’t crazy is generally wonderful for people. I don’t know a single person who would willingly choose to be put into the friend zone. Be overrated as a person my friends.
To further the overrated/underrated comparisons, I think that Fight Song by Rachel Platten is the worst song in the history of all music. It is just awful. A quick list of things I’d rather fight than listen to Fight Song: a bear, Connor McGregor, the people responsible for how Suicide Squad turned out, and Rachel Platten. In my mind the song is overrated. In Rachel Platten’s mind she’s thinking, “Who cares what this random person thinks, I’m gonna roll around in all the money from my double platinum single for the tenth time today cause I can do that cause I never have to work again thanks to all the soccer moms and Ford commercials playing my song over and over.” Rachel Platten thinks in run on sentences.
I decided to look at three preseason overrated/underrated lists from the 2015 season. The teams that were deemed underrated were: Virginia Tech, Missouri, Texas A&M, and Michigan. The teams labeled as overrated were: USC, LSU, Michigan State, and Florida State. Not only does this list show how completely arbitrary and ridiculous preseason polls are, it gives insight into the differences of overrated and underrated teams. Teams on both sides finished the season very high up (Michigan State, Michigan), but some teams also fell well below expectations (USC, Virginia Tech, Missouri). The difference is the overrated teams were highly ranked, well-respected programs, coming off of strong seasons. The underrated teams were either coming off of a couple of strong but unprecedented seasons or trying to return after quite a few down years. With the exception of Michigan fans, most college football fans would choose to be a team that made the overrated list.
Utah doesn’t have the same history as a LSU or a Florida State, it just doesn’t. But after several strong seasons in the Pac-12 and a great core of talent, sitting on preseason underrated lists should not bring a sense of satisfaction. The true sign of the Utes having arrived as a Power 5 competitor is when the Utes are finally showing up on the overrated lists. Utah may have no control over how it’s perceived by the rest of the college football world, but we should stop pretending that acknowledging Utah as underrated is somehow making up for the lack of overall respect. After all, being overrated gets you into the Holiday Bowl, being underrated gets you into the Las Vegas Bowl. It makes a difference. Utah may be underrated now, but it should strive for not only greatness, but overatedness.