Sports Network ranks SoCon fourth
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
The Sports Network reported on its web site that the Southern Conference is the fourth best FCS league in the country. TSN's FCS Executive Director Craig Hailey did the ranking.
The web site, which has its own weekly poll during the regular season and gives out the Walter Payton and Buck Buchanan Awards, rated the Colonial Athletic Association at the top FCS conference. The Missouri Valley Football Conference was rated second and the Big Sky was rated third.
The Southern Conference has not sent a team to the FCS championship game since 2007 when Appalachian State belted Delaware 49-21. It was the third of three straight championships for the Mountaineers.
Georgia Southern reached the semifinals in 2011 and 2010.
The CAA's depth was cited as the reason for its high ranking, though no CAA team reached the semifinals in 2011. The CAA also will lose Rhode Island, Georgia State and Old Dominion to conference realignment in 2013.
However, defending champion Towson, Old Dominion and James Madison return with solid football team, according to The Sports Network. New Hampshire, Delaware and Maine could also be good teams in 2012.
Defending champion North Dakota State returns to the Missouri Valley Conference. Northern Iowa, Youngstown State, Illinois State, Indiana State and possibly South Dakota State were cited by the web site as having a chance to make a run at the league title.
The Big Sky is home to traditional power Montana, the 2010 national champion Eastern Washington and power Montana State. North Dakota, Cal Poly and Southern Utah, join the league from the defunct Great West Football Conference.
The Southland Conference was ranked fifth, followed by the Ohio Valley Conference, Big South, Patriot League, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and Ivy League