Members of the Southern Conference media have selected the Georgia Southern Eagles to finish first in the league during the 2011 season.
The Eagles (10-5, 5-3 SoCon in 2010) were selected in first place in the preseason poll for the first time since 2003.
Teams get nine points for each first-place vote, eight for second place down to one point for a ninth-place vote.
Voted second by a slim margin was Appalachian State, the six-time defending conference champion. The Eagles (254 points) and Mountaineers (249) were separated by only five points, the narrowest margin since 1996 when Appalachian State was voted first ahead of then-SoCon member Marshall.
Monday, the league’s coaches selected ASU first and GSU second by a slim margin.
Georgia Southern coach Jeff Monken didn’t pay much attention in 2010 when the preseason polls got it wrong, and won’t pay much mind this season, either.
"I think they ranked us seventh or eighth last year and we didn’t pay much attention to that, so we’re not going to worry about it again this year," said Monken, whose Eagles finished tied for third in the SoCon standings in 2010 and earned the program’s first spot in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs for the first time since 2005. "We’ve just got to get ready to play, and hopefully our guys will be prepared each week. You’ve got to take them one game at a time. Those preseason rankings don’t mean much."
Offensive lineman Brett Moore, a preseason All-American and All-SoCon selection, indicated that the Eagles used the low ranking in 2010 as motivation.
"We weren’t really respected in that sense," said Moore, a senior. "We had to go out there and prove to everybody that we could play in this league and that we could be respected in this league. We just focused every day on getting better, and that’s what we did."
Moore said things won’t change now that the Eagles were voted No. 1.
"All those things sound good, but right now we’ve got to focus on getting everyone into camp, getting together and working hard to get the season going," he said. "Those things sound good, but as of right now, we don’t try to focus on that too much."
The Eagles’ 2011 campaign begins on the road Saturday, Sept. 3 when they face Samford.