CHENEY — As the preseason accolades roll in for the Eastern Washington University football program, head coach Beau Baldwin knows that success builds on itself.
On Tuesday it was the media who ranked the Eagles fourth in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision preseason poll. That comes less than a week after a No. 3 ranking from the coaches.
“It’s a compliment to a ton of people including the coaches (Dick Zornes, Mike Kramer and Paul Wulff) who came before me, and it’s a compliment to our university and our president,” Baldwin said Tuesday after practice. “To get to that point, that means that we’re doing some great things as a university as a whole.”
High rankings are nothing new for the Eagles, who spent two weeks atop the poll last season and finished there in 2010 after winning the FCS title.
“It means you’ve done things in a positive way prior to the upcoming season,” Baldwin said. “Ultimately, you want to go into a season with people coming after you because of the success you’ve had in the past.”
The same is true for the other highly ranked teams, including top-ranked and defending champion North Dakota State, second-ranked Montana State and No. 3 Sam Houston State.
The Eagles get a shot at two of the teams ranked ahead of them; Eastern plays at Sam Houston State on Sept. 28 in a rematch of last year’s 45-42 Bearkat victory in the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs. Montana State, which was defeated at home by the Eagles 27-24 a year ago, plays at Roos Field on Nov. 9.
Other Big Sky schools ranked in the preseason poll are No. 14 Cal Poly, No. 18 Northern Arizona and No. 20 Montana. The Eagles play at Cal Poly on Nov. 16 and at Montana on Oct. 26.
The Eagles finished the 2012 season ranked fourth in FCS, just ahead of Montana State.