If it's summer, that means the latest college football magazines have come out with their rankings of FCS schools. The Any Given Saturday community and Lindy's College Football have unveiled theirs yesterday - and it's as if the Patriot League barely existed.
Now, I'm not going to be a homer and say I expected Lehigh (who was 5-6 last year) to be ranked in the Top 25 or anything.
But the omission of Fordham, the winner of the Patriot League last year from Lindy's entire Top 25 was disheartening, not to mention front-runners Colgate (boasting the nation's leading rusher last year in rising senior RB Jordan Scott) and Holy Cross (who will have rising senior QB Dominic Randolph returning next year, who almost put up a point-a-minute on Lehigh in a 59-10 shellacking last year).
The Any Given Saturday poll had the Patriot League little better, with Fordham at #23 (and, for good measure, Yale at #24). Both were ranked behind SIX CAA teams: James Madison (#2), Richmond(#3), UMass (#6), Delaware (#11), Villanova (#17), and New Hampshire (#20).
Harvard, last year's Ivy League champion, weren't even dignified with a ranking in either poll.
The Ivy League's snub, who at times seem to not want to get their "hands dirty" with the Delaware's and Appalachian State's of the world, maybe isn't all that surprising. (Of course, I can guarantee that Harvard, Yale, or both are better than more than half the teams on that Top 25 list, and it's very likely that they will prove it next year as they bulldoze through their schedules.)
But the Patriot League's snub is more surprising considering they were very close to having two teams in the FCS playoffs, Fordham made an excellent run at UMass in the first round of the playoffs, and (most importantly) have all their key elements back together for another run at the Patriot League title.
Whether the Patriot League suffers from "guilt of association" with the Ivy League, or that FCS followers nationally chronically underrate the powerful Ivy League and Patriot League teams (trust me: they do), it probably means it will be an uphill battle for respect and rankings in 2008. To me, out-of-conference games carry even more weight not only for the schools involved, but for the entire League as well.
The best way for FCS not to forget about the Patriot League is for us to win these head-to-head games.
Here's Lindy's preseason predictions for the Patriot League this year:
OFF POY: Jordan Scott, RB, Colgate
DEF POY: Andy Romans, LB, Lafayette
1. Holy Cross
You can bet that Lafayette fans are up in arms that Lehigh is not only ranked above Lafayette, but that's with "that school in Easton" having the preseason defensive player of the year, too.
All that's certain for Lehigh is that it will not be easy if they hope to get a Patriot League championship and a FCS playoff invite.