our NCAA Championship game appearances in four years under the CAA Football banner and more than 47 percent of its games on television...quite a way to begin an era! CAA Football raised the profile of what was once the Yankee Conference and later the Atlantic 10 Conference when it took the reins of the league in 2007. Now four years into the CAA’s leadership the league has moved from one of the power conferences in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, to argubly the most successful conference in the division in terms of on-the-field success, television exposure, marketability and success of it players at the next level. The league’s marketability will only continue to grow as it adds Old Dominion to its roster in 2011, expanding further into the Tidewater market of Virginia, and later Georgia State, based in Atlanta, Ga., in 2012.
Delaware pushed CAA Football’s streak to five-straight National Championship game appearances and seven in the last eight years. The league’s non-conference success was evidenced again last season by a 22-6 (.786) mark against FCS foes, while James Madison pushed the league’s win total to three over teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference in the last two years with an epic, 21-16, victory at nationally-ranked Virginia Tech. CAA Football has won 10 games over BCS/FBS foes in the last five seasons and 19 contests against the upper level of major college football in the last 10 years.
CAA Football continued its stronghold in the national polls, showing seven teams ranked over a nine-week stretch and a total of three teams at No. 1 during the 2010 season. Even more impressive was a four-week stretch from Sept. 20-Oct. 11 when league squads occupied five of the Top-10 spots in The Sports Network poll.
An expanded NCAA Playoff field in 2010 allowed CAA Football to extend its streak to four-straight years of four or more squads appearing in the postseason. Both Delaware and William and Mary earned Top-5 seeds, while Villanova and New Hampshire had to go on the road for their postseason openers. Delaware dispatched of Lehigh and New Hampshire won at Bethune-Cookman to set up an All-CAA Football matchup in Newark in the quarterfinal round. Villanova rattled off 40 unanswered points to come from behind at Stephen F. Austin and advance, while the Tribe struggled to stop the triple-option attack of Georgia Southern and fell to the Eagles in its postseason opener. Delaware and New Hampshire renewed a CAA Football rivalry in the quarterfinal round and a defensive battle ensued as the Blue Hens advanced giving the league a semifinalist for the fifth-straight year. Villanova got a total of five touchdowns from Matt Szczur to upset top-seeded Appalachian State at The Rock and march into the semifinal round. Villanova could not regain its early lead on the road at Eastern Washington and fell to the Eagles, but Delaware forced five Georgia Southern turnovers which helped it advance to the 2011 NCAA Division I National Championship game for the second time four seasons. The Blue Hens dropped a 20-19 decision to Eastern Washington at the new home of the National Championship game, Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas.
The league has earned 75 total playoff berths, including 35 in the last 10 seasons. Getting into the playoffs isn’t where the success stops, as evidenced by 50 playoff wins since 2001. CAA Football has continued to make its presence felt at the national level by placing nine teams in the national semifinal round over the last five seasons, and advancing a team to the national title game each of those five years as well.
Richmond’s National Championship in 2008 and Villanova’s 2009 title are the most recent championships for the league. In 2004, James Madison claimed the national championship with a 31-21 triumph over Montana, becoming the first team to reach the title game by winning three road playoff contests since the field expanded to 16 teams in 1986. Delaware rolled past Colgate 40-0 to capture the national championship in 2003, becoming the first team to ever post a shutout in the title game. No other conference has had two different teams win national titles in back-to-back years and CAA Football has done it twice (2003-04 & 2008-09). Massachusetts earned a national championship in 1998, beating perennial power Georgia Southern, 55-43.
Along with the team accomplishments, the conference has accumulated numerous individual accolades. New Hampshire quarterback Ricky Santos (2006), William and Mary quarterback Lang Campbell (2004), Villanova running back Brian Westbrook (2001), Villanova wide receiver Brian Finneran (1997), New Hampshire running back Jerry Azumah (1998) and Towson running back Dave Meggett (1988) all have won the prestigious Walter Payton Award under the league banner. James Madison linebacker Derrick Lloyd (2001) and defensive lineman Arthur Moats (2009) each received the Buck Buchanan Award. New Hampshire’s Sean McDonnell (2005), James Madison’s Mickey Matthews (1999 & 2008), Villanova’s Andy Talley (1997) and Boston University’s Dan Allen (1993) have earned the Eddie Robinson National Coach of the Year Award. Delaware’s K.C. Keeler (2010), Richmond’s Mike London (2008), Matthews (2004), Massachusetts’ Mark Whipple (1998) and Talley (1997 & 2009) have garnered the American Football Coaches Association National Coach of the Year honor.
Success beyond the collegiate playing field can be measured in numerous ways. CAA Football has had 98 players drafted by NFL franchises dating back to 1948. A total of 24 players have been selected in the draft over the last 10 years, including the league’s second-highest draft pick ever -- former Delaware Blue Hen quarterback Joe Flacco (18th overall to the Baltimore Ravens). The league has also excelled in graduating student-athletes as 10 programs have earned NCAA Public Recognition Awards over the last three years for ranking among the Top 10 percent of the FCS in the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rating system.
The CAA Football geographic footprint encompasses much of the East Coast with schools located from Maine to Virginia. Current members include Delaware, James Madison, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Old Dominion, Rhode Island, Richmond, Towson, Villanova and William and Mary, while Georgia State will join the fold as a full member in 2012. While CAA Football officially began March 1, 2007, its roots date back more than 60 years.
On December 3, 1946, the Code of the Yankee Conference went into effect. Established as an all-sports conference for the New England land grant colleges, the six charter members included Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. Upon the formation of Division I-AA football in 1978, the league disbanded all sports except football. Delaware and Richmond were admitted to the conference in 1986, Villanova was added in 1988 and James Madison, Northeastern and William and Mary joined the league in 1993. The Atlantic 10 assumed operation control of the conference from 1997-2006, with Hofstra becoming part of the league in 2001 and Towson joining the group in 2004.
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5 -- National Championships
-- Massachusetts - 1998 (55-43 over Georgia Southern)
-- Delaware - 2003 (40-0 over Colgate)
-- James Madison - 2004 (31-21 over Montana)
-- Richmond - 2008 (24-7 over Montana)
-- Villanova - 2009 (23-21 over Montana)
4 -- National Championship Runners-up
-- Massachusetts - 1978 (28-35 to Florida A&M)
-- Massachusetts - 2006 (17-28 to Appalachian State)
-- Delaware - 2007 (21-49 to Appalachian State)
-- Delaware - 2011 (19-20 to Eastern Washington)
20 -- Consecutive seasons of multiple berths in the NCAA Playoffs
-- Longest active streak in FCS history
75 -- NCAA Playoff Berths
35 -- NCAA Playoff Berths over the last 10 years
50 -- NCAA Playoff Wins over the last 10 years
7 -- NCAA Championship Final appearances over the last 8 years
9 -- NCAA Championship Semifinal appearances over the last 5 years
6 -- Walter Payton Award Winners
-- Dave Meggett - Towson, 1988
-- Brian Finneran - Villanova, 1997
-- Jerry Azumah - New Hampshire, 1998
-- Brian Westbrook - Villanova, 2001
-- Lang Campbell - William and Mary, 2004
-- Ricky Santos - New Hampshire, 2006
2 -- Buck Buchanan Award Winners
-- Derrick Lloyd - James Madison, 2001
-- Arthur Moats - James Madison, 2009
5 -- Eddie Robinson National Coach of the Year Winners
-- Dan Allen - Boston University, 1993
-- Andy Talley - Villanova, 1997
-- Mickey Matthews - James Madison, 1999
-- Sean McDonnell - New Hampshire, 2005
-- Mickey Matthews - James Madison, 2008
6 -- American Football Coaches Association National Coach of the Year Winners
-- Andy Talley - Villanova, 1997
-- Mark Whipple - Massachusetts, 1998
-- Mickey Matthews - James Madison, 2004
-- Mike London - Richmond, 2008
-- Andy Talley - Villanova, 2009
-- K.C. Keeler - Delaware, 2010
5 -- Members of the College Football Hall of Fame
-- Lou Holtz, William and Mary
-- Dick MacPherson, Massachusetts
-- Dave Nelson, Maine & Delaware
-- Tubby Raymond, Delaware
-- Eddie N. Robinson, Maine
309 -- Sports Network All-Americans (Since 1987)
103 -- American Football Coaches Association All-Americans (Since 1979)
98 -- Players Drafted By NFL Franchises
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