LAKE CHARLES, La. — The University of Central Arkansas is picked to finish third in the Southland Conference in both the coaches and sports information director polls, which were released at the league’s annual Media Day on Tuesday.
Sam Houston State, which went undefeated to win the league title last year and finished as the national FCS runner-up with a 14-1 record, is the favorite in both polls.
Stephen F. Austin is picked second in both polls. SFA received one first-place vote in the coaches poll. UCA received one in the SID poll.
"What is significant is who is picked first and I think the coaches and SIDs got it right," said UCA coach Clint Conque. "Sam Houston has 19 or 20 starters returning from a team that went deep in the playoffs. The road to the title will go through Huntsville, Texas, and Sam Houston, but it’ll be interesting after that.
"It’s a talented league, good from top to bottom and Sam Houston has to go on the road a lot. But they have the right pieces in place to play well on the road."
UCA is coming off a 9-4 record, reaching the second round of the playoffs, losing to the University of Montana. Sam Houston lost to North Dakota State in the FCS title game at Frisco, Texas. The Bears were one point behind second-place SFA in both polls.
Sam Houston State was picked fifth in the preseason polls last year.
"The year we had the best record in the league, we were picked fourth or fifth in the polls," Conque said. "It’s that tough a league.