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Penn State Football: Chris Fowler, AP Top 25 Voters Overlook Nittany Lions

by on August 20, 2011 12:00 PM

The Associated Press released its college football preseason poll on Saturday morning, and the Nittany Lions were nowhere to be found.

Not in the overall poll -- and not on the ballot of ESPN College GameDay’s Chris Fowler.

Or the ballot of SI.com’s Andy Staples.

However, Craig James of ABC/ESPN did have the Nittany Lions No. 23 on his list.

(And the Lions also did receive enough votes to just miss making the Top 25, following Texas on the "Others receiving votes" list at No. 27.)

Although not quite a Penn State apologist, Fowler usually has a soft spot in his heart -- if not his ballot -- for the Nittany Lions.

As Lori Shontz detailed in her Penn Stater magazine blog, Flower lived in State College as a junior high school kid in the 1970s when his father Knox was a Penn State theater professor.

Still, Fowler -- who is currently in Queens, N.Y., anchoring ESPN's tennis coverage of the U.S. Open -- should be cut some slack. It was iffy, at best, that Joe Paterno’s team would crack the Top 25 of the wire service poll, voted on by 60 sportswriters and broadcasters.

The Nittany Lions finished 7-6 last season, losing three of their final four games. A team with its second quarterback battle in as many years and minus its all-time rusher usually doesn't draw a lot of voter attention (excepting, of course, when its 84-year-old coach takes a big hit in practice).

Earlier this month, Penn State was ranked 25th in the USA Today poll, which is voted on by 59 college coaches.

Oklahoma was voted No. 1 in both polls, while Alabama – Penn State’s opponent in its second game of the season, Sept. 3 in Beaver Stadium – is ranked second in the AP and USA Today polls.

In the AP preseason poll, four of Penn State’s 2011 opponents were in the Top 25. After Alabama, other ranked foes are Nebraska (10th), Wisconsin (11th) and Ohio State (18th). The Nittany Lions face the latter three teams in a row to complete their regular schedule.

There is only one voter from Pennsylvania on the AP panel – writer Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He voted Penn State No. 25 and Alabama No. 1.

Click here for a breakdown of each AP voter’s ballot -- not including Kirk Herbsteit of ESPN/ABC; his votes were not made public. He's listed as a voter representing the state of Ohio, even though he has moved to Tennessee.

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Mike Poorman has covered Penn State football since 1979, and for StateCollege.com since the 2009 season. His column appears on Mondays and Fridays. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/PSUPoorman. His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
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