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My Take: FCS coaches, aren't you forgetting about someone?
GSU New

One of these polls is not like the other...

FCS Preseason Media Top 25
                                           2012    Pts        Pvs

1. North Dakota State (127)    14-1    3340    1
2. Montana State (1)               11-2    3079    5
3. Sam Houston State (5)        11-4    2941    2
4. Eastern Washington            11-3    2873    4
5. Villanova                             8-4    2334   15
6. South Dakota State              9-4    2268   14
7. Central Arkansas                 9-3    2244   10
8. Wofford                               9-4    2089    7
9. Georgia Southern (1)          10-4    2002    3
10. New Hampshire                 8-4    1920   13
11. Towson                              7-4    1871   17
12. Appalachian State            8-4    1696    9
13. Illinois State                        9-4    1657    8
14. Cal Poly                             9-3    1646   12
15. Richmond                           8-3    1384   18
16. Stony Brook                      10-3    1178   11
17. Northern Iowa                     5-6    1106   NR
18. Northern Arizona                 8-3    988         20
19. James Madison                    7-4    964         19
20. Montana                              5-6    813         NR
21. Eastern Illinois                      7-5    686     NR
22. Lehigh                                10-1    587         16
23. Bethune-Cookman                9-3    514     22
24. Chattanooga                         6-5    505         NR
25. Coastal Carolina                   8-5    489      24


FCS Preseason Coaches Top 25
                                          2012    Pts        Pvs
1. North Dakota State (23)    14-1    645        1
2. Montana State (1)             11-2    591        5
3. Eastern Washington           11-3    549        4
4. Sam Houston State (1)       11-4    534        2
5. Wofford                              9-4    450        7
6. Central Arkansas                 9-3    428         10
7. South Dakota State              9-4    410         17
8. New Hampshire                  8-4    386         13
9. Villanova                             8-4    381         16
10. Illinois State                       9-4    379      9
11. Cal Poly                            9-3    348         11
12. Towson                             7-4    347         15
13. Stony Brook                     10-3    326     12
14. Richmond                          8-3    274         18
15. James Madison        `         7-4    235         21
16. Northern Iowa                   5-6    218         NR
17. Lehigh                             10-1    198         14
18. Northern Arizona               8-3    196      20
19. Eastern Kentucky (1)         8-3    188          19
20. Bethune-Cookman             9-3    159          23
21. Coastal Carolina                8-5    140          24
22. Montana                            5-6    135         NR
23. Eastern Illinois                   7-5    120         25
24. Youngstown State              7-4    107         NR
25. Chattanooga                      6-5    104         NR

According to the coaches of the Football Championship Subdivision, Georgia Southern — a program with three-straight trips to the semifinals of the playoffs under its belt — isn’t in the preseason top five.
    Not the top 10, either.
    In fact, Georgia Southern and Appalachian State, by virtue of “their transition to the (Football Bowl Subdivision),” aren’t eligible to be ranked in the FCS Top 25 coaches poll.
    On the one hand, leaving those programs ineligible for a playoff berth or a conference title is a fair argument.
    Georgia Southern is in the process of increasing its scholarships from 63 to 85, so the program currently offers more than anyone else who will be participating in the 2013 playoffs, giving the Eagles (and the Mountaineers) an arguably (though undecidedly) unfair advantage.
    The reality is more like the Eagles have exactly the same number of scholarship players they would if they were not in transition, and they they’ve turned a bunch of partials into full rides on the road to becoming FBS compliant.
    But, again, it’s a fair argument.
    It’s also a fair argument by the Southern Conference that Appalachian State and Georgia Southern shouldn’t be eligible for the conference championship, either. After all, the SoCon champion receives an automatic bid to the playoffs, and the SoCon doesn’t want its auto bid going to a program that can’t use it.
    Also, fair enough.
    But the Eagles and Mountaineers being left out of the polls and the conference standings?
    That’s a bit hypocritical.
    First off, the Eagles are ranked in the preseason media poll — they’re No. 9, and they received one first-place vote — and so are the Mountaineers (No. 12). So why should they be in the media’s poll, but not the coaches?
    Second, how can the SoCon leave ASU and GSU out of the conference standings, when wins and losses by the other conference programs against GSU and ASU still count?
    If, say, Wofford loses to Georgia Southern, Wofford suffers a conference loss. If Wofford loses to ASU and GSU, but beats everybody else in the league, the Terriers will finish the season with a 6-2 record in conference play.
    How is it possible that the games count, but the teams that won them don’t?
    Let’s say Georgia Southern goes 8-0 in SoCon play, and Appalachian State goes 7-1 (just a hypothetical — not a prediction). What’s to stop the SoCon from allowing GSU and ASU to finish first and second (after all, they won the games, right?) and awarding the SoCon title and automatic bid to the third-place team? That seems fair, and it also seems like a better reflection of reality.
    The problem is that the Southern Conference expects either GSU or ASU to finish at the top. And they should, because that’s pretty much the way it has gone down the past couple of years.
    And the league doesn’t want to reward programs for deciding they’re too big to remain a member.
    But the players had no role in the decision by Georgia Southern and Appalachian State to leave the Southern Conference for the Sun Belt. And since both programs are playing a SoCon schedule in 2013, both programs should have the opportunity to be recognized as the best team in the league. Not the champion, but the best team. And the SoCon is taking away that opportunity for no real, discernible reason.
    As for the Top 25 coaches poll, there is somewhat of a precedent. Last year, Ohio State finished No. 3 in the Top 25 FBS media poll when it was the only undefeated team in the division. The Buckeyes were left out of the coaches poll.
    But that’s because OSU cheated, and was being punished.
    Georgia Southern and Appalachian State haven’t done anything wrong. All they’re doing is what they feel is best for their respective programs.
    Apparently, progress deserves punishment, too.
So, as it stands, Georgia Southern is left with only one external goal — win every game and finish No. 1 in the media poll.
    The Eagles can also gain some satisfaction if they’re able to beat some of the Top 25 teams in the coaches poll, and by forcing the SoCon to crown a champion with a mediocre record.
    The SoCon and the FCS can try to make it look like the Georgia Southern Eagles and Appalachian State Mountaineers don’t exist in 2013, but they can’t stop them from winning.

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