Coaches' polls are always suspect. Many head coaches leave the concern to their assistants. If a head coach does fill out his ballot himself, he's likely not spending as much time on that poll as he is any other number of things more germane to the cause of his team's next practice, next game, next tournament.
That said, coaches' polls are a decent gauge of a team's reputation within its own league. And, to that end, Kansas State fans have to be awfully proud: The Wildcats were voted by the Big 12's coaches as the favorite to win the Big 12 title in 2010-11.
The prediction isn't exactly surprising. The Wildcats return Jacob Pullen, one of the most electric guards in the country and a likely preseason All-American, as well as forward Curtis Kelly, an ascendant interior presence. Kansas State lost a few major pieces -- guard Denis Clemente, defensive leader Dominique Sutton -- but will be most college hoops observers' pick to win the Big 12 all the same. With their vote, the league's coaches merely reinforced what most people already think.
What makes this somewhat interesting is what it says about K-State's program under Frank Martin. The 2010-11 vote is -- get this -- the first time the Wildcats have ever been picked by the league's coaches to win the Big 12. Through solid recruiting, an up-tempo style and a frighteningly intense demeanor, Martin has effectively upended the Big 12 hoops power structure. Ten of the league's coaches voted for Martin's team. Coaches aren't allowed to vote for their own squad, meaning only one of Martin's peers doesn't like his team as the favorite. That, friends, is respect.
Of course, the Wildcats have plenty of competition waiting for them when the preseason becomes the season. Kansas, even if star recruit Josh Selby can't get eligible, will still be a deep, veteran force. Baylor, led by LaceDarius Dunn and sure-thing NBA lottery pick Perry Jones, have their own designs on a Big 12 title. The high-powered Longhorns are lurking nearby; Missouri will be as tough an out as anyone in the league.
No, a preseason coaches' poll is really only good for what it communicates about the collective coach consciousness. In the Big 12, that consciousness loves the Wildcats. Enjoy the compliment, Kansas State. Because now the hard part starts.