Navy's football team stole the hearts of fans across the nation this season with an improbable 10-2 record.
Yesterday, the Mids were rewarded with No. 24 finishes in the season-ending Associated Press and USA Today/coaches polls.
It was the first time since 1963 that a Navy team had finished the season ranked in the Associated Press poll and the first time since 1978 (17th in the now-defunct UPI poll) that the Mids ended a season ranked in any poll.
It also marked the first time Navy has been ranked at any time in the coaches' poll.
The final rankings were announced as the Navy players were heading back to school to resume classes today after a few days of break following last Thursday's 34-19 victory over New Mexico in the Emerald Bowl at rain-soaked SBC Park in San Francisco.
That left coach Paul Johnson as the primary spokesman for the football team.
"It will be interesting when our players get here tomorrow," Johnson said. "I know they'll be excited. One of our goals this year was to win a bowl game, and we wanted to win the Commander in Chief's Trophy. The only goal that we set that we didn't get was to beat Notre Dame."
Johnson said the No. 24 spot in both final polls "is a validation for all the hard work that everybody has put into this program."
The Mids won 10 games for the first time in 99 years, and they are one of just five non-Bowl Championship Series schools in the final poll.
The others are Utah, Louisville, Boise State and Fresno State.
Navy's two losses came to Notre Dame (27-9) and Tulane (42-10).