Chattanooga Mocs have been tabbed the preseason favorites by the Southern Conference football coaches for the third consecutive season. The Mocs, who have won at least a share of the conference crown each of the last three years, earned seven first-place votes and finished the preseason balloting with 63 points.
The Citadel, which won a share of the Southern Conference title for the first time since 1992 with a 6-1 record last season, was slotted second with 52 points. The Bulldogs garnered a first-place vote from the coaches. The Citadel is under the direction of first-year head coach Brent Thompson, who served as the Bulldogs’ offensive coordinator the past two years.
Samford followed in third place with 50 points and one first-place vote. Head coach Chris Hatcher returns 16 starters, including eight on offense, to a team that went 6-5 a season ago.
Western Carolina was tabbed fourth with 41 points. The Catamounts won seven games last year for the second consecutive season. It is WCU’s highest showing in the preseason poll since being slotted fourth in 2005. In their third season as a SoCon member, the Mercer Bears were picked fifth with 38 points. Head coach Bobby Lamb returns 10 starters on both offense and defense.
Wofford was picked sixth, followed by Furman in seventh place. Mike Ayers returns 55 lettermen for his 29thseason on the sideline with the Terriers, while Bruce Fowler begins his sixth season with the Paladins. Furman topped UCF last season to give the Paladins their sixth win over an FBS program.
VMI was slotted eighth as head coach Scott Wachenheim brings back 16 starters for his second season with the Keydets, while ETSU rounded out the poll. The Bucs, who restarted their football program in 2015 as an FCS independent, will play their first SoCon schedule since the 2003 season this fall. Carl Torbush enters his second year as head coach with ETSU.
2016 SoCon Football Preseason Coaches Poll
School (First-place votes) Points
1. Chattanooga (7) 63
2. The Citadel (1) 52
3. Samford (1) 50
4. Western Carolina 41
5. Mercer 38
6. Wofford 33
7. Furman 24
8. VMI 14
9. ETSU 9