Despite the loss of high-profile quarterback Ryan Perrilloux, Jacksonville State didn’t lose much ground with that group. Tuesday marked the release of the first 2010 preseason poll, and the Gamecocks maintained their spot in the Top 25 for the 15th consecutive week — a school record for Division I. JSU was ranked No. 17 in the AnyGivenSaturday.com Football Championship Subdivision Poll.
“For Ryan to be gone and to still be recognized,” JSU coach Jack Crowe said, “it’s a recognition of all the players and all the coaches.
“… I’ve had high-profile players, and while that’s good, that’s not how you want to benchmark your program.”
While the AnyGivenSaturday.com poll is not the most widely recognized in the world of the former I-AA, it is a decent gauge of what could come for the Gamecocks. The two major polls, the Sports Network media poll and the FCS Coaches Poll, will be released later this summer and the Ohio Valley Conference preseason ranks will come in the lead up to media day.
Coming off an 8-3 mark — 6-1 in conference play — and returning 14 starters (four on the offensive line), the Gamecocks are sure to get attention in the conference standings. The Gamecocks finished with the best record in the OVC, but were unable to move on the postseason because of sanctions imposed upon them for deficiencies in their APR (Academic Progress Report).
That postseason ban has been lifted, and now the Gamecocks are set to battle for the league title with Eastern Illinois, the only other team in the OVC ranked in the poll (No. 21) and the only team in the conference the Gamecocks don’t have a winning record against.
Crowe, though, isn’t quick to use this initial poll as a barometer for the remainder of the preseason — especially where the league is concerned.
“I don’t know, sometimes they’re a little unpredictable,” Crowe said of the OVC preseason poll. “I would say we’re going to be in there somewhere, one or two with Eastern.
“But what’s new? It’s been the same way every year.”
The one thing that is new for Jacksonville State is this prolonged success in the FCS ranks. As their time in the Top 25 rankings continue, Crowe said things have to change. Even if it is in preseason polls, where at some schools they carry little weight.
“It means something for our program,” he said. “Perception can only be expected on a national level. That’s the way good programs are. Alabama sees themselves one way — that winning a national championship or you’re just trying to get there. There’s no other way.
“We’re not at that level, yet. We’ve just been proud to win the conference, but we’re in a better position to do it now than we’ve ever been. Whether we do it or not is yet to be seen.”
Bran Strickland is the sports editor for The Star. He can be reached at 235-3570.