SPARTANBURG, S.C. – After capturing the 2014 Southern Conference championship, the Chattanooga Mocs have been tabbed the preseason favorites for 2015 in polling conducted by the league’s head coaches. After finishing with a perfect 7-0 mark in conference play last season, the Mocs earned seven first-place votes and 49 points in the poll. It is the second consecutive season Chattanooga has been tabbed the preseason favorite.
Samford, under the direction of new head coach Chris Hatcher, was slotted second with 40 points. The Bulldogs earned the final first-place vote. Hatcher inherits a team that returns 46 lettermen from last year’s team, which went 5-2 in league play.
Western Carolina was slotted third with 38 points. The Catamounts finished 2014 with a 7-5 record, including a
5-2 mark in SoCon play. WCU’s seven overall wins and five league victories were the highest since 2001. Coach Mark Speir returns all 11 starters on offense and 10 on defense.
Wofford was picked fourth and earned 30 points in the preseason balloting. The Terriers are under the direction of Mike Ayers for the 28th season and return 52 lettermen, including 10 starters on offense. Furman (22) was picked fifth. Head coach Bruce Fowler enters his fifth season in Greenville, S.C., and returns a total of 20 starters from last year.
In its first season as a member of the Southern Conference last year, Mercer finished 6-6 and went 1-6 in league play. The 2015 season will mark just the second year of scholarship football for the Bears, who return all but one starter from last season. Mercer (20) was picked sixth in preseason balloting.
Mercer narrowly edged The Citadel, as the Bulldogs (18) were slotted seventh. Mike Houston returns for his second season in Charleston, S.C. The Citadel returns 10 starters on offense from a team that went 3-4 in league play last year.
Scott Wachenheim assumes the reigns at VMI after spending the previous five seasons as an assistant at Virginia. The Keydets returned to the Southern Conference in 2014 after spending 11 seasons in the Big South. VMI returns 39 lettermen, including nine starters on offense.
2015 SoCon Football Preseason Coaches Poll
School (First-place votes) Points
1. Chattanooga (7) 49
2. Samford (1) 40
3. Western Carolina 38
4. Wofford 30
5. Furman 22
6. Mercer 20
7. The Citadel 18
8. VMI 7
NOTE: Coaches were not permitted to vote for their own teams