In fact, William and Mary is in the Top Ten of The Sports Network Top 25 Pre-Season Poll, although they are only picked third in the A-10 South Division. The A-10 is loaded for I-AA football this year, with five teams in the Top 25, including #1 James Madison. The Tribe was also picked at #13 in the nation in the Street and Smith magazine pre-season Top 25 for I-AA.
Here are two releases from the Atlantic 10 Conference. First is the I-AA Top 25, followed by the A-10 pre-season rankings and all-league players. William and Mary's team and players are in bold:
The Sports Network I-AA Pre-season Top 25
PHILADELPHIA, PA -- Defending national champion James Madison garnered 49 first-place votes and is ranked No. 1 in The Sports Network's I-AA preseason top 25, which was released on Monday. JMU is one of six teams from the Atlantic 10 Football Conference ranked in the top 25, equaling the most-ever by the Conference in the pre-season Top 25. The A-10 also had six teams ranked in The Sports Network's 1995 pre-season poll.
The Dukes, who won a program-record 13 games last season, are coached by former Marshall defensive coordinator Mickey Matthews (1990-95), is the second team from the Atlantic 10 to begin the season ranked No. 1 by The Sports Network since it became recognized as an NCAA poll of record in 1993 (Delaware also was number one, in 2004). James Madison assistant coaches include former MU players Phil Ratliff, George Barlow and Jim Durning.
Another former MU foe, the first Marshall opponent at Joan C. Edwards Stadium back in 1991, is No. 7, New Hampshire, who earns its highest preseason ranking ever. The Wildcats are followed by Marshall's opening opponent, William & Mary, at number nine. They are followed by other foes from Marshall's past, including Delaware (#10), Massachusetts (#15) and Hofstra (#24). The Tribe of William and Mary were I-AA semi-finalists in 2004, losing to fellow conference member JMU, and posted a mark of 11-3 last season. W&M won the Atlantic 10 last season with a 7-1 mark in conference games.
With six teams ranked in the preseason top 25, the Atlantic 10 was the most represented of any I-AA conference. It marks the sixth time since 1993 that at least five A-10 programs appeared in The Sports Network pre-season top 25, including each of the past three years. Other I-AA teams long-time Herd fans will remember include former Southern Conference foes Furman (#2) and Georgia Southern (#6). Playoff teams that visited Huntington in the 1990s include Montana (#3), WKU (#8) and Northern Iowa (#12).
1. James Madison (49) 2,333
2. Furman (21) 2,251
3. Montana (14) 2,215
4. Eastern Washington (11) 2,053
5. Southern Illinois (3) 1,842
6. Georgia Southern 1,841
7. New Hampshire 1,731
8. Western Kentucky 1,698
9. WILLIAM & MARY (1) 1,547
10. Delaware 1,538
11. Northwestern State 1,431
12. Northern Iowa 1,102
13. Hampton 1,076
14. Lehigh 963
15. UMass (1) 869
16. Sam Houston State 712
17. Cal Poly 681
18. Montana State 651
19. Harvard (1) 661
20. Jacksonville State 658
21. Wofford 502
22. North Dakota State 421
23. Texas State 308
24. Hofstra 299
25. Grambling State 293
First-place votes in (parenthesis)
Atlantic 10 Picks William & Mary Third In South Division
WARWICK, RI - Media Day for the Atlantic 10 was held at The Crowne Plaza Hotel and in a vote by the league's 12 head coaches and a panel of 18 media members, defending national champion James Madison was selected to win the A-10 South Division title, while Massachusetts and New Hampshire finished tied in the North Division vote.
James Madison received 16 out of a possible 30 first-place votes cast in the South Division. JMU (13-2, 7-1 in A-10) returns 11 starters, including LeZotte, who led the Atlantic 10 with 144 tackles and earned A-10 Co-Rookie of the Year honors. Following James Madison in the predicted South standings are 2004 playoff participants Delaware and William & Mary, followed by Villanova, Richmond, and Towson. Delaware and William & Mary garnered six first-place votes apiece. Villanova received the other two.
New Hampshire and Massachusetts share the top spot in the predicted North Division finish, with the Wildcats garnering 14 first-place votes and UMass 12. Last season, both New Hampshire and James Madison were picked to finish fourth in the North and South Divisions, respectively. UNH advanced to the quarterfinals of the I-AA playoffs for the first time in school history, while JMU won a program-record 13 games and its first-ever national title.
The 2005 season commences on Thursday, Sept. 1 when A-10 rivals Massachusetts and Richmond square off at UR Stadium. Non-conference tilts also scheduled for Sept. 1 include William & Mary visiting Marshall at 7:00 p.m.and Towson hosting Morgan State.
2005 ATLANTIC 10 PRESEASON PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
1. Massachusetts (12)
1. New Hampshire (14)
3. Hofstra (4)
6. Rhode Island
1. James Madison (16)
2. Delaware (6)
3. William & Mary (6)
4. Villanova (2)
First-place votes in (parentheses)
2005 William and Mary Selections On The
ATLANTIC 10 PRESEASON FOOTBALL ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM
CODY MORRIS WILLIAM & MARY OL JR. 6-4 285 JEANSVILLE, PA
ADAM O'CONNOR WILLIAM & MARY DL SR. 6-7 275 GREENSBORO, NC
STEPHEN CASON WILLIAM & MARY DB SR. 6-0 202 RICHMOND, VA
GREG KUEHN WILLIAM & MARY PK SR. 6-3 200 POTOMAC FALLS, VA