Few entries on the list of firsts remain for a 317-year-old institution.
That list got even shorter yesterday with the College of William and Mary’s move to first place in The Sports Network/Fathead.com Top 25 poll.
The top ranking is the first No. 1 ranking in the 116-year history of football at the College.
“I am sure being ranked No. 1 is something our fans and alumni can get excited about, but our program needs to remain focused on preparing for [Saturday’s opponent] James Madison,” Head Coach Jimmye Laycock ’70 said in a press release.
The Tribe (7-2, 5-1 CAA), coming off a hard-fought 13-3 win over the then-No. 8 New Hampshire Wildcats, received 105 first place votes in the poll, which was released Monday afternoon. The Delaware Blue Hens (8-1, 5-1 CAA) came in second with 31 votes, while the Appalachian State Mountaineers (8-1) rounded out the top three with 10 first place votes.
The College’s move to the top of the poll was, at least in part, due to a series of fortunate losses among other top-ranked teams. Saturday saw Appalachian State, Jacksonville State (8-1) and Villanova (6-3) — the top-three teams previous to Monday’s rankings — each fall to unranked teams.
The No. 1 ranking represents the highest position in a national poll ever reached by the College.
The previous high was the No. 3 position, which the Tribe reached in 2004, 2009 and 2010. In both 2004 and 2009, the College reached the FCS semifinal game, only to fall to the eventual national champion James Madison Dukes and Villanova Wildcats, respectively.
However, the College’s claim on the top spot in the FCS has not been unanimous. The FCS Coaches’ Poll, released after the Sports Network/Fathead.com Top 25, pegged the Tribe as the No. 2 team.
The College moved up from the fifth spot just behind Delaware, which placed first.
The Tribe will put its ranking to the test when it takes on James Madison Saturday in Harrisonburg, Va. The squad will finish out the season in a home matchup at Zable Stadium versus in-state rival and 21st-ranked University of Richmond.