AP: Lower-division schools eligible thanks to Mountaineers

After pulling off one of the greatest upsets in college football
history, Appalachian State is still shaking things up.

The Associated Press said Thursday that lower-division schools --
that means you, Mountaineers -- are now eligible for its 71-year-old

"It's great they opened the door," Appalachian State coach
Jerry Moore said. "Certainly we're not going to be the No. 1 team
in the country. We know that. We're not even going to be in the top
10. But if you have a win over a nice football team, I like that
it's not out of the realm of possibility for a school like us to be
one of the top 20 or 25 teams in the country."

Several AP voters expressed interest in putting Appalachian
State on their ballots after a shocking 34-32 upset at then-No. 5
Michigan last weekend. But the poll guidelines, which mirrored the
coaches' rankings conducted by USA Today, limited eligibility to
teams competing in the former NCAA Division I-A, now known as the
Football Bowl Subdivision.

The Mountaineers compete in the Football Championship
Subdivision, known before this season as Division I-AA.

The AP decided to make the change because schools that show they
can compete with big-time teams on the field should have a chance
to be recognized with them in the top 25, Sports Editor Terry
Taylor said.

"Why not? The poll was always intended to measure teams that
compete against each other, regardless of division, based solely on
on-field performance," she said. "It was that way long before
Division I was divided into I-A and I-AA in 1978."

One poll voter, Adam Van Brimmer, said he wanted to put
Appalachian State at No. 25 after their win over the Wolverines,
largely as a symbolic gesture. He might still do it next week,
assuming the Mountaineers beat Division II Lenoir-Rhyne.

"If I have any openings in my poll, they would certainly be
strongly considered," said Van Brimmer, who works for the
Georgia-based Morris News Service.

In a previous job, he covered longtime Division I-AA powerhouse
Georgia Southern, which, like Appalachian State, is a member of the
Southern Conference.

"Having spent so much time watching those Georgia Southern
teams, I'm sure the top teams in the Southern Conference are as
good as any mid majors," Van Brimmer said.
"They're probably as good as anybody in the MAC (Mid-American
Conference). They're probably better than most in the Sun Belt."

Joe Giglio of The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., said he
would have voted for the Mountaineers this week, though he never
considered where to put them after being told they weren't

He's not sure if Appalachian State will get another chance to
crack his top 25 since the school doesn't face another big-time
opponent, which affects strength of schedule. After Lenoir-Rhyne,
the Mountaineers take on Northern Arizona before getting into their
conference schedule.

"They could go unbeaten the rest of the way, which is certainly
a possibility," Giglio said. "But that would be a problem,
particularly in the methodology I use. They would never have a
chance to improve their ranking."

USA Today plans no change in its poll, which will continue to be
limited to schools in the division formerly known as I-A.

As Giglio pointed out, the Football Championship Subdivision has
its own poll (Appalachian State was a unanimous choice at No. 1)
and a playoff system to determine its champion (the Mountaineers
have won the last two titles).

"We're probably better off just separating church and state, so
to speak," he said. "How long is the shelf life for beating
Michigan? At some point, it wouldn't be enough" to keep them in
the top 25.

Another AP voter, John Heuser of The Ann Arbor (Mich.) News,
agreed that Appalachian State might be able to crack the poll next
week, but would have a hard time staying there the rest of the

"It would be pretty difficult to evaluate some of the I-AA
teams they play, because they don't have the same exposure as I-A
teams," said Heuser, who covered Saturday's shocking upset. "We
know how good Appalachian State is because they beat Michigan. But
I would not really be able to assess how good their opponents are
the rest of the season."

Taylor said those sort of issues should be up to the voters, not
the news cooperative that organizes the poll and tallies up the

"This was an issue we never had to face before," she said.
"But we thought about it and decided there should be no rule
against ranking a I-AA team, as long as that team competed against
a I-A opponent.

"Oddities of one sort or the other frequently crop up where the
poll is concerned, and it's not unusual for us to make adjustments.
This one was just the fair and right thing to do."

Heuser said the Mountaineers were certainly deserving of being
in the top 25 for at least one week.

"They are an impressive team," he said. "I thought they were
Michigan's equal on the field. I didn't think it was a fluke at