KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Carroll (Mont.) will begin the 2011 season as the No.-1 ranked team in the NAIA Football Coaches' Preseason Top 25 Poll, the national office announced Monday. Since 2000, the top billing marks the sixth time (2011, 2008, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003) the Fighting Saints have been ranked No. 1 and the first since 2008. The defending national champion will begin the season with 314 total points and all 14 first-place votes in the Top 25 poll.
"The biggest thing this year that I think is appropriate is a quote from Bill Parcells that we will live by, `measure excellence by performance and not reputation,'" said Carroll head coach Mike Van Diest. "These players know what is expected of them in this program. What we have accomplished is great, but it's not about our reputation, it is about our performance. Guys report this weekend [for preseason practices] and we will start to get it going."
The rest of the top-five squads go unchanged from the Spring Top 25 Poll, that was announced on April 18. Second-ranked Saint Xavier (Ill.) is followed by No. 3 MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.), No. 4 Saint Francis (Ind.) and No. 5 Morningside (Iowa).
The Fighting Saints are looking for their seventh National Championship, which would tie them for the most in NAIA history. Behind Van Diest, Carroll has gone undefeated in four of his 12 seasons, won 11-straight Frontier Conference titles and taken home six National Championships since 2002. The team from Helena, Mont., opens up its campaign at Rocky Mountain (Mont.) on Sept. 3.
The only newcomer from the Spring Top 25 Poll is No. 25 Grand View (Iowa) with 22 points. The Vikings, out of the Mid-States Football Association Midwest division, garnered their first Top-25 ranking since being ranked 20th in the 2010 Preseason Top 25 on Aug. 9.
The Heart of America Athletic Conference boasts the most teams in the Top 25 with four: No. 3 MidAmerica Nazarene, No. 11 Missouri Valley, No. 22 Benedictine (Kan.) and No. 23 Baker (Kan.). Four other conferences, and the Independents, all claim three teams each. One of the big change among membership is the Independents adding several members, such as No. 7 Dickinson State (N.D.), due to the disbandment of the Dakota Athletic Conference.
The poll was voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing each of the conferences and Independents. For the entire 2011 Coaches' Top 25 Poll schedule, click here.
For more information on NAIA football, please click here.
NOTES: The Mid-States Football Association Mideast division put three teams in the top six: Saint Xavier at No. 2, Saint Francis at No. 4 and Marian (Ind.) at sixth... Carroll leads the group of No. 1-ranked teams in the Preseason Top 25 (since 1997) - 2011, 2008, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, followed by former member Sioux Falls (S.D.) (2010, 2009, 2007, 1997), Georgetown (Ky.) (2002, 2001), Northwestern Oklahoma State (2000), Azusa Pacific (Calif.) (1999) and former member Findlay (Ohio) (1998)... Since 2000, Carroll holds the most No. 1 positions with 56; Sioux Falls had 55, while Georgetown has 14, Northwestern Oklahoma State 11 and Saint Francis with three... Only two teams have been ranked No. 1 since the 2006 Postseason Top 25 Poll (Jan. 18, 2007), with Carroll being one of them - Saint Francis was the last team outside of those two programs to earn the No. 1-spot on Nov. 12, 2006 - a streak of 56 polls... Carroll has now been ranked in the top five in the last 79 straight polls dating back to Jan. 17, 2005 (2004 Postseason Top 25 Poll)... Saint Francis boasts the longest consecutive stretch of being named in the Coaches' Top 25 Poll - 143 straight mentions. The last time Saint Francis was not mentioned in the Top 25 was Oct. 19, 1999... After Saint Francis, Carroll is the next team in line with 130 straight Top-25 rankings... Sioux Falls holds the record (since 1997 when both divisions merged) for consecutive No. 1 rankings at 26 straight polls, accomplished from Jan. 12, 2009 (2008 Postseason) through Nov. 14, 2010 (final regular season).
|RANK||LAST TIME^||SCHOOL (1ST PLACE VOTES)||2010 RECORD||TOTAL POINTS|
|1||1||Carroll (Mont.) (14)||14-0||314|
|2||2||Saint Xavier (Ill.)||13-1||302|
|3||3||MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.)||12-1||289|
|4||4||Saint Francis (Ind.)||10-2||276|
|7||7||Dickinson State (N.D.)||9-2||233|
|8||8||William Penn (Iowa)||10-1||225|
|13||13||Northwestern Oklahoma State||8-3||175|
|15||15||Azusa Pacific (Calif.)||6-4||152|
|19||18||Southern Nazarene (Okla.)||7-4||98|
|20||22||Webber International (Fla.)||7-4||80|
|24||25||St. Francis (Ill.)||8-4||35|
|25||RV||Grand View (Iowa)||6-4||22|
Others receiving votes: Sterling (Kan.) 13; Union (Ky.) 9; Campbellsville (Ky.) 8; Rocky Mountain (Mont.) 6; Friends (Kan.) 5; Saint Ambrose (Iowa) 3; Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.) 1; Eastern Oregon 1; Valley City State (N.D.) 1; Southern Oregon 1; Shorter (Ga.) 1; Montana Tech 1; Langston (Okla.) 1; Jamestown (N.D.) 1
^ Ranking indicated in 2011 Spring Top 25 Poll (April 18, 2011)