The Sun Belt's football coaches were asked which team they expect to win the conference this year, with the results released early this afternoon.
No surprise (I think), defending champion Georgia Southern was picked to repeat:
For the full rundown we turn to our own tweet, cuz we're cool like that:
A couple of thoughts:
1. Who really voted here? It's widely believed coaches don't actually fill out these polls, which begs the question who they delegate to and if they care what team that person chooses. Presumably this poll helps put all the pressure on the Eagles along with a target on their backs that will make it harder to repeat. Conversely, maybe it's just a meaningless poll with absolutely no bearing on anything.
2. Who the hell picked South Alabama to win it all? The other 10 first-place votes fall in line with the top three overall teams. Is the outlier USA head coach Joey Jones or his designated proxy? Is it Troy coach Neal Brown trying to get in the heads of his new cross-state rivals? The Jaguars did benefit from quite a few UAB transfers and even a UAB coach, maybe somebody knows something we don't.
3. Who loses the relegation battle? In 2014 the Sun Belt was dragged down by a horrid bottom four widely considered to be among the worst teams in all of college football. No surprise that same group checks out with the lowest number of points in this poll. Troy should be in for a rise thanks to an up-and-coming head coach, elsewhere though one would imagine Georgia State in the bottom spot.
Not so. The Panthers come in ahead of NMSU and Idaho, who both managed to win a conference game in 2014. Time will tell who escapes the trap door. Note: Okay it's not a real relegation battle but the race to stay out of the cellar should still be interesting.
4. Tight race at the top. Given App State's uber-hot finish to last season it's almost surprising the Mountaineers weren't picked even higher than fourth. In any case, each of the top four fanbases must think this is their year. Notwithstanding that ULL and Arkansas State don't play Georgia Southern, it should be a fun fall in the #funbelt.
4. When does the actual season start? Preseason polls and the upcoming Sun Belt media days July 19-20 in New Orleans only wet the appetite for a regular season still a month and a half away. Even though we can smell some amazing stuff sizzling in the kitchen, we continue to starve for the rest of the summer. Fall, please don't hesitate.