CHARLOTTE, NC (www.BigSouthSports.com) – For the first time since the 2006 season, defending Conference co-champion Coastal Carolina University has been tabbed the favorite in the Big South Conference's annual preseason football poll for the 2013 campaign, as voted by the League's head coaches and media panel and announced today at the 2013 Big South Conference Football Kickoff Media Luncheon at the Charlotte Plaza Uptown Hotel in Charlotte, NC.
The Chanticleers, which became the first team in Conference history with its third FCS Playoff appearance last season, enter the 2013 campaign with 50 letterwinners returning, including 22 starters. Second-year head coach Joe Moglia's squad will look to capitalize on last year's 8-5 overall record and 5-1 Conference mark to receive the Big South's automatic bid to the postseason. Coastal Carolina, which is ranked No. 15 by Lindy's, received nine of 15 first-place votes cast and 84 total points to win the Big South football championship this season.
Liberty, under the direction of second-year head coach Turner Gill, is picked to finish second to the Chanticleers in 2013. The Flames went 5-1 in the League last season for the fourth consecutive year and shared the Conference championship. The Flames, which return 18 starters in 2013, collected the six remaining first-place votes and 80 total points in the voting.
Gardner-Webb and new head coach Carroll McCray were picked to finish third in the poll with 58 points – the Runnin' Bulldogs' highest standing in the preseason voting since being tabbed third entering the 2008 season. Charleston Southern and new head coach Jamey Chadwell finished fourth in the preseason ranking with 39 points. The Buccaneers are coming off their best Big South finish (fourth) since the 2009 campaign (third). The VMI Keydets and Presbyterian College Blue Hose tied for the fifth position in the preseason voting. VMI, under sixth-year head coach Sparky Woods, is playing its final season in the Big South in 2013, while PC and fifth-year head coach Harold Nichols are looking to bounce back from last year's 2-9 finish and 0-6 record in League play.
Liberty and Presbyterian College open the 2013 season on Thursday night, Aug. 29 against two FBS opponents on ESPN3. The Flames travel to Kent State for a 6:00pm kickoff while the Blue Hose visit Wake Forest at 6:30pm. The remaining four teams open on Saturday, Aug. 31. Conference play starts Saturday, Oct. 12 and the regular-season concludes Saturday, Nov. 23, with the Big South champion receiving the League's automatic bid to the FCS Playoffs.
2013 Preseason Poll (first-place votes) -- Points
Note: points are based on a weighted system, with first-place votes receiving 6 points, followed by 5 points for second-place, and so on.