After 23 years, Richmond football is No. 1 again.
The Sports Network, which had ranked the Spiders at No. 2 last week and in the top five all season, released its week-five rankings Monday. And Richmond, coming off of a 44-17 win against the University of Maine, was ranked first with 49 first-place votes and 2,389 points.
"When we first started out we knew we were going to be ranked high," coach Mike London said. "The guys understand what we do between the white lines is what matters."
James Madison University, after a 35-32 win against Appalachian State University last weekend, moved from No. 5 to No. 2 with 37 first-place votes and 2,387 points. Appalachian State moved from No. 1 to No. 3 with no first-place votes and 2,122 points.
London, a 1983 Richmond graduate who played football with some of the members of the No. 1 1985 team, said the No. 1 ranking was a source of pride for him then.
"You remember where you were at that time," London said. "I was a member of the football fraternity, and I think players now share the same kind of pride."
Richmond has now been ranked in the top 25 for 17 consecutive weeks, but this season was the first since 1993 that Richmond had been ranked higher than fifth. Richmond is 7-1 against top-25 teams since the start of the 2007 season, which made it the FCS team with the most wins against top-25 teams last season.
Richmond has never won an FCS championship, but JMU was the 2004 champion, and Appalachian State has won the 2005, 2006 and 2007 championships.
"We're interested in what happens at the end of the season," London said. "A ranking doesn't block, doesn't tackle for you. We have to move on because now people are always trying to knock you off that perch."
Richmond and JMU are two of six Colonial Athletic Association teams ranked in the top 25 of the week-five Sports Network poll. Richmond will play at No. 19 Villanova University on Saturday and will play JMU on Oct. 11.
"[JMU] is a Virginia school, a CAA school," London said. "We think this conference is the best in the FCS. It's a tribute to the league and the coaches in the league.
"You can be fearful or run away from it, but you might as well embrace it. I'm looking forward to sharing this with the guys."
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This version of the story DELETES the reference to an Associated Press FCS poll. A story from AP filed Monday was reporting on the Sports Network poll. The AP does not rank FCS teams.
Contact staff writer Barrett Neale at firstname.lastname@example.org
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