BY JEREMY HOECK
On first glance, there were no real surprises in the Sports Network preseason FCS top-25 poll that was released Friday. (Spoiler alert: I’m a voter).
Perennial title contender Eastern Washington was selected No. 1 (where I tabbed the Eagles), followed by three-time defending national champion North Dakota State. Southeastern Louisiana, New Hampshire and Montana rounded out the top 10.
The Missouri Valley Football Conference also had three other teams crack the top 25: Northern Iowa (9), South Dakota State (10) and Youngstown State (24). In all, the league had nine of its 10 teams receiving a vote in the preseason poll.
The lone exception?
The University of South Dakota.
Yes, the Coyotes — coming off a 4-8 campaign — did not an earn a vote from the national panel. USD was picked to finish eighth in the Missouri Valley preseason poll, ahead of Western Illinois and Indiana State.
Yet, in the Sports Network poll, Western Illinois garnered five votes, Missouri State five votes and Indiana State one vote (really curious who that was. The Sycamores were 1-11 a year ago).
It’s really hard to take issue with a preseason poll, because as a voter, trust me, you’re basing most of your selections on what happened last year. You know the teams in the league you cover, and likely a little about some of the other top-25 staples. But beyond that, any research done — and yes, I do occasional research! — is rudimentary at best.
At least, though, when you look at the two major preseason FCS polls (the coaches poll and Sports Network), there isn’t too much in the way of noticeable differences.
The top five teams in both polls are the same, with NDSU the No. 1 team in the eyes of coaches. South Dakota State, for example, is No. 10 in both, while Youngstown State was No. 21 in the coaches poll Northern Iowa was slated No. 15 in the coaches poll.
Here comes the part where you say preseason polls don’t matter. Teams left out, like USD, will understandably use these polls, though, as bulletin board material. Expect the Coyotes to keep this in mind.