KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Defending national champion Saint Xavier (Ill.) begins the 2012 season as the No. 1 ranked team in the 2012 NAIA Football Coaches' Preseason Top 25 Poll, the NAIA announced Monday. The ranking marks the first time in program history that the Cougars, who tallied 11 first-place votes and 236 total points, have topped preseason poll. However, Saint Xavier is no stranger to the No. 1 ranking, earning the top-spot in 9-of-13 polls last year, including the 2011 Postseason Poll following a 24-20 victory against Carroll (Mont.) in the 56th annual Russell Athletic-NAIA Football National Championship.
Saint Xavier returns its top three offensive weapons, led by reining NAIA National Championship Offensive Player of the Game Jimmy Coy. Coy paced the NAIA in total offense (4,530 yards) and passing (4,261 yards), while rating amongst the top five individually in pass efficiency (161.1), passing yards per game (284.1) and total offense per game (302.0). In the national championship against Carroll, he completed 28-of-43 attempts for 216 yards and one touchdown, including a 31-yard strike that set up the game winning touchdown. The Cougars open the 2012 season on Sept. 1 at Olivet Nazarene (Ill.).
The remainder of the top nine teams go unchanged from the Spring Top 25 Poll (April 18) with second-ranked Carroll followed by No. 3 Marian (Ind.), No. 4 Georgetown (Ky.) and No. 5 MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) to round out the top five.
With the No. 2 ranking, the Fighting Saints extend their streak of top-five ratings to 91-straight polls dating back to Jan. 17, 2005 (2004 Postseason Top 25 poll.). Carroll begins its 2012 campaign on Aug. 24 at Montana State-Northern.
Northwestern (Iowa) made the biggest improvement from the previous poll, vaulting four spots to No. 10, while Cumberlands (Ky.) was second, leaping three places from No. 22 to No. 19.
No. 25 Campbellsville is the lone newcomer from the Spring Top 25 Poll. The Tigers, out of the Mid-South West Conference, garnered their first Top 25 ranking since the Sept. 19, 2011.
The Heart of America Athletic Conference (MidAmerica Nazarene, No. 9 Missouri Valley, No. 13 Benedictine (Kan.), No. 18 Baker (Kan.)) and the Mid-States Football Association Midwest (No. 7 St. Francis (Ill.), No. 14 William Penn (Iowa), No. 15 Grand View (Iowa), No. 20 St. Ambrose (Iowa)) boast the most teams in the Top 25 with four each. Three other conferences are tied for third with three schools, respectively.
The poll was voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing each of the conferences and Independents. For the entire 2012 Coaches' Top 25 Poll schedule, click here.
For more information on NAIA football, please click here.
NOTES: Saint Xavier's No. 1 ranking marks the first time the Cougars have earned the top spot in the Preseason Poll (since 1999) ...The Mid-States Football Association Mideast division put three teams in the top six: Saint Xavier at No. 1, Marian at No. 3 and Saint Francis (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 (2002, 2001), former member Northwestern Oklahoma State (2000), Saint Xavier (2012), former member Azusa Pacific (Calif.) (1999) and former member Findlay (Ohio) (1998)...Carroll leads all institutions with 56 first-place rankings and is followed by former NAIA member Sioux Falls (S.D.) (55), Georgetown (Ky.) (23), former NAIA member Northwestern Oklahoma State (11) and Saint Xavier (10) ... Carroll has now been ranked in the top five in 91-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 with 156 ... Following Saint Francis among consecutive appearances is Carroll with 141, MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) with 67, Morningside (Iowa) with 59 and Saint Xavier with 47 ... Since 2000, only three programs have lasted the entire season ranked at No. 1 - Carroll (2003, 2005), Sioux Falls (2009), Georgetown (2001).2012 NAIA Football Coaches' Preseason Top 25 Poll
|RANK||LAST TIME^||SCHOOL (1ST PLACE VOTES)||2011 RECORD||TOTAL POINTS|
|1||1||Saint Xavier (Ill.) (11)||14-1||236|
|5||5||MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.)||10-2||201|
|6||6||Saint Francis (Ind.)||9-3||185|
|7||7||St. Francis (Ill.)||11-3||178|
|14||13||William Penn (Iowa)||9-2||136|
|15||16||Grand View (Iowa)||8-4||100|
|17||15||Valley City State (N.D.)||9-2||83|
|20||20||St. Ambrose (Iowa)||7-3||61|