SPARTANBURG, S.C. – In voting that mirrored the Southern Conference football coaches poll, the league’s media tabbed Chattanooga as the preseason favorite for the 2016 season. The Mocs earned 26 of 28 first-place votes after finishing 6-1 in league play a season ago.
UTC finished the preseason polling with 250 points, 42 more than 2015 co-champion The Citadel. The Bulldogs were picked second with 208 points and two first-place votes.
Western Carolina was tabbed third with 179 points. The Catamounts went 5-2 in league play last season and posted an overall mark of 7-4.
Mercer (148) narrowly edged Samford (147) for fourth place. The Bears begin their third season in the SoCon and it is the fourth season for Mercer, which restarted its program in 2013. Chris Hatcher enters his second season with Samford, which went 6-5 a season ago.
Wofford was picked sixth, with Furman slotted seventh in preseason balloting. The Terriers earned 136 points and enter the 2016 season with 20 returning starters from 2015. The Paladins picked up 102 points in the preseason poll. Bruce Fowler enters his sixth season with the Paladins and returns 45 lettermen this fall. Furman leads all Southern Conference programs with 13 conference titles.
VMI (62) and ETSU (28) rounded out the preseason poll. Scott Wachenheim enters his second season with the Keydets, who returned to the Southern Conference in 2014. The Bucs, who restarted their football program as an FCS independent last year, will play their first Southern Conference schedule since 2003. The Bucs will play their first league game against Western Carolina at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sept. 17.
2016 SoCon Football Preseason Media Poll
School (First-place votes) Points
1. Chattanooga (26) 250
2. The Citadel (2) 208
3. Western Carolina 179
4. Mercer 148
5. Samford 147
6. Wofford 136
7. Furman 102
8. VMI 62
9. ETSU 28