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Notebook: Is Samford being overlooked on the national stage?

Notebook: Is Samford being overlooked on the national stage?

Notebook: Is Samford being overlooked on the national stage?

    At this point in the 2013 season, it’s fair to say that the Samford Bulldogs are underrated.
    Coming off back-to-back wins over Georgia Southern and Appalachian State, the Bulldogs (5-2, 3-0 Southern Conference) come in at No. 22 in the Sports Network Football Championship Subdivision Top 25, and are still unranked in the FCS coaches poll.
    Even Samford coach Pat Sullivan doesn’t think his team is getting enough respect.
    “No I don’t. I’ll just be honest,” Sullivan said Tuesday on the weekly SoCon teleconference. “You hear every coach talk about it and we’re certainly no different — we’re going to play one day at a time, one play at a time — but we’ve got a good football team.”
    Samford’s two losses came at home against Southeastern Louisiana and on the road at Arkansas in a game in which the Bulldogs led 21-17 in the fourth quarter.
    The wins have been impressive. They won by 10 on the road at FBS upstart Georgia State and beat Appalachian State at its own homecoming, dismantling the underwhelming Mountaineers, 34-10.
    At home, Samford beat Georgia Southern 44-34 and Western Carolina 62-23. The Bulldogs also have a road win against Florida A&M.
    To Sullivan, it isn’t just Samford getting disrespected. It’s the whole SoCon. Only Wofford (No. 12 -- 4-2, 3-0) is ranked in the coaches poll. In the media poll, Samford and ineligible Georgia Southern (No. 23) are tucked in at the bottom, behind 13th-ranked Wofford.
    “The league is stronger now top to bottom than when I came into it six years ago,” Sullivan said. “You look at Chattanooga with what they’re doing, they’re an outstanding football team. There’s nothing wrong with Georgia Southern and App, they’re great teams. I think the job that Kevin Higgins has done at The Citadel is outstanding. Furman is Furman, they’re outstanding. It’s a matter of who plays good on that particular day, and you better have your ‘A’ game.”
    The problem for Samford lies with the NCAA committee, which factors in the polls when selecting at-large teams to the playoffs. As it stands, the Bulldogs and Wofford are in a battle for the league championship and the automatic bid that comes with it, with Chattanooga close behind, and whoever doesn’t get it could face being left out of the playoffs.
Sullivan isn’t worried about that — yet.
    “Let’s get through about two or three more weeks, and then we’ll worry about that if we take care of business,” Sullivan said. “We’ve got a long, long way to go as a football team to get to where we want to go.”
    Samford has a bye this week before facing Wofford on Oct. 26, in Spartanburg, S.C., while the Terriers face struggling Western Carolina (1-6, 0-3) on Saturday before hosting the Bulldogs.
    Wofford coach Mike Ayers has his own take on the SoCon.
    “It’s a crazy league at this point in the year,” Ayers said. “There are people who are playing extremely well, there are people who are not playing as well as they're capable of and then there’s some people like us who are fortunate just to get by.”

A good time for a break
    Samford isn’t the only team grateful for a break on the upcoming weekend.
    Georgia Southern (4-2, 2-2) will catch a breather after last Saturday’s comeback, 28-21 win over The Citadel (2-5, 2-3).
    “We’re injured beyond belief, and beyond repair in a lot of areas, and we found a way to win,” GSU coach Jeff Monken said. “I’ve said it before, nobody’s interested in excuses. I’m not interested in excuses, I’m interested in results.”
    The Citadel is also idle on Saturday.

Around the league
    The woes continue for Appalachian State (1-5, 1-2), which kicked preseason All-American wide receiver Sean Price off the team on Sunday following its homecoming loss to Samford.
    As reported by the Winston-Salem Journal, according to District Court records for Watauga County, Price has a Nov. 21, court date for charges including felony assault by strangulation.
    The Mountaineers travel to Furman (2-4, 1-2) on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
    Elon (2-5, 1-2) plays host to Chattanooga (4-2, 2-1) on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

    Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.

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