Why Temple? 'The ACC stinks'

WILMINGTON, Del. - I'm on a train back to Philadelphia, and am doing a bit of work in a cafe car full of Yale alums en route to New Haven for The Game tomorrow.

(You think I'm kidding. I'm not. One of them is a former player. I'm trying to decide whether to tell the rest how bad their team is this year.)

As we head into the weekend, I have an interesting interview to share with you. I mentioned on Monday that two AP football voters ranked Temple at No. 20 on their ballots this week. We've already heard from Scott Wolf of the Los Angeles Daily News, and now we can hear from Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

We chatted by email, and here's what Fittipaldo had to say about the Owls:

I believe I put the Owls in my top 25 for the first time two weeks ago. I thought about it a week or two before that, but the Villanova loss made me think twice. Finally, two weeks ago, with a few of the bottom-end teams losing, I decided to put the Owls in. This week I moved them a few more slots. I'm of the opinion that the ACC stinks and some of those middle of the road SEC teams that usually get ranked aren't doing as well. Therefore, a team like Temple from the MAC gets in.

I asked how hard it is to get his ballot all the way to 25 teams. He touched on it above, and here's more:

Increasingly, it's been difficult to find worthy teams to put at the tail end of my top 25. For instance, I've had Miami lower in my poll than most other pollsters all year, about four to five spots lower most weeks. So when Miami lost to North Carolina beat the Hurricanes this week I wanted to drop Miami from my poll. But as I searched for teams to put in their place I could not find any.

Fittipaldo did drop Miami out of his rankings, but you get the idea.

As he's from Pittsburgh, I couldn't help asking Fittipaldo a few questions about the high-flying Panthers. The first was about the big showdown between Cincinnati and Pitt at Heinz Field on Dec. 5, which will be for the Big East title and a BCS berth:

Pitt is the home team, so it will be a really good game. Cincinnati seems to do whatever it takes to win, but with a BCS berth on the line and Pitt's front four playing as well as they have, I have to think the Panthers find a way to win a close game.

And I couldn't help asking whether he thinks Pitt and Penn State will renew their old and famous rivalry.

Pitt and Penn State will not play again until Joe Paterno steps down or passes away. I do think it will happen after that if someone like Tom Bradley has a say at that point. But who knows? Bradley might be gone by then, too.

Some good stuff there. What do you make of it?