Polls in college football are often dissected and analyzed at a ridiculous level.
After all, determining who's the best team and who's the 14th-best team is not an exact science.
In fact, it can be downright boggling.
While the NFL has rather clearly defined teams at both the top and the bottom of their league, college football has been experiencing (or suffering, depending on who you ask) from extreme parity.
College football simply has no dominant team. The Top 10 are constantly on red-alert for an upset and the rest of the teams beat each other up with no rhyme or reason. It's like a car crash; it may be exciting and thrilling but, in the end, you are left with an emptiness in your stomach.
No wonder most AP writers have such a dubious task ahead of them when they try to pick the 25 teams worthy of recognition. One reporter, Ray Ratto of the San Francisco Chronicle , decided to go against the grain.
Ratto is not some new hack on the scene. He has written sports articles for three decades and has been a voter for quite some time now. When he sat down, he saw a team worthy of supporting that others have completely ignored.
The Richmond Spiders.
Yes, a FCS-school from the CAA made an appearance in the "others receiving votes" category when Ratto named the defending FCS champions No. 25 in his poll.
"After I put Virginia Tech and Oklahoma in despite their three losses --- I realized I was going to have to break ground somewhere," Ratto said. "I could no longer see a reason to keep Richmond out."
Richmond is currently riding a 17-game winning streak, an 11-game streak on the road, and is off to the best start in the 127-year history of the program. Seven of these games, by the way, were played by Richmond with the No. 1 ranking/bullseye painted squarely on their jerseys after winning a national championship last season.
Along the way, the Spiders have claimed some impressive victories.
First, they knocked out the three-time defending national champion and Wolverine-tamer Appalachian State on the road 33-13. Then they staged a miraculous comeback against Northern Iowa after trailing 20-7 entering the fourth quarter.
En route to the championship, they knocked out four conference champions after finishing the regular season third in their conference.
To start the 2009 season, Richmond knocked off the Duke Blue Devils. While it may not have seemed impressive at the time, the mediocrity in the ACC continues to raise the image of the Spiders. The Blue Devils are 5-3 (2-1 ACC) with the other two losses coming against ranked teams.
"The win over Duke looked better and better," Ratto said.
The Spiders have outscored their competition 260-123 and still have major showdowns with Villanova and William & Mary on their schedule. Victories against those teams, currently a combined 14-2 with BCS-victories to their credit, would only help bolster the claim that the Spiders deserve recognition for what they have accomplished these past two seasons.
However, this new-found publicity may come at a price. After all, the more attention the University of Richmond receives, the more attention is paid to their second-year head coach and alum Mike London.
London is only the third coach ever to win a national championship his first year at the helm in the FCS. His ties to the Virginia Cavaliers and to the Houston Texans make him a very attractive candidate for potential job openings later this year.
London may be a graduate from the Spiders, but one must wonder just how long the Richmond fans can keep their eight legs around him. He has already made his mark by capturing the first national championship in school history for any sport. He also seems to be the perfect candidate to lead Richmond to their new stadium, which opens soon.
However, will London be their on opening day in 2010?
Well, when one considers that Mike London's team has received more AP votes this season than his former boss, Al Groh, it certainly is a question worth asking.
Congratulations to the Richmond Spiders and what they have accomplished already this season. I certainly wish London and his team success the rest of this season and I hope that Virginia is wise enough to be watching.
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