SFA Picked Near Top in SLC Preseason Polls
Aug. 5, 2002
PLANO, Texas - Its schedule has been tabbed one of the toughest in the nation, but prognosticators have not let that stop them from picking McNeese State University to once again win the Southland Conference football title. The Cowboys received the nod from the Southland Conference coaches and sports information directors in separate preseason polls to win the 2002 title.
Five of the seven coaches picked McNeese to finish first while six of the seven SIDs placed the Cowboys at the top. Jacksonville State University and Sam Houston State University picked up the other two first-place votes from the coaches while JSU received one SID top billing.
It would be the second crown in as many years and the sixth in the last dozen for the Cowboys. Last year's was a shared title with Sam Houston State as the two finished tied with 5-1 records in Southland play. McNeese posted an 8-4 overall record while SHSU was 10-3 on its way to winning its first title since the 1991 campaign.
Jacksonville State, scheduled to play its last season in the Southland before departing for the Ohio Valley Conference in 2003, is picked to finish second by the head coaches. The SIDs have the Gamecocks, 5-6 and 2-4 in Southland play a year ago, tying for third.
In a three-way, third-place tie in the coaches' poll are SHSU, Northwestern State and Stephen F. Austin. Rounding out the poll is Nicholls State in sixth and Southwest Texas in seventh.
SFA is picked second by the sports information directors while JSU and SHSU are tied for third. Northwestern State placed fifth, Nicholls sixth and SWT seventh.
The Cowboys are familiar with league titles, having won 13 in the program's rich tradition. Included are eight Southland crowns and five from when McNeese was a member of the Gulf States Conference.
In conjunction with McNeese?s title last season, the Cowboys received the Southland?s automatic bid to the NCAA I-AA playoffs. It marked the ninth time for a McNeese team to advance.
The Southland is coming off a season in which it advanced three teams to the NCAA I-AA payoffs as Sam Houston and Northwestern received at-large invitations. It marked the second time in four years for three teams from the Conference to advance to postseason play.
McNeese will have to get through a pre-Southland schedule which consists of games against Grambling, Youngstown State, Western Kentucky, and NCAA I-A programs Louisiana-Monroe and Nebraska, before venturing into Southland Conference play.
2002 SOUTHLAND CONFERENCE FOOTBALL PRESEASON POLLS
SOUTHLAND HEAD COACHES Pl. University (1st-place votes) Points 1. McNeese State (5) 35 2. Jacksonville State (1) 24 3. Sam Houston State (1) 23 Northwestern State 23 Stephen F. Austin 23 6. Nicholls State 12 7. Southwest Texas State 7