NEW ORLEANS (SunBeltSports.com) – Much of the chatter this offseason around the Sun Belt Conference has been focused on the lack of a clear-cut favorite headed in to the 2013 football season. The 2013 Preseason Coaches Poll released Monday at the league's annual media day might only further the talk.
Louisiana-Lafayette and Louisiana-Monroe both earned 57 total points in the combined voting of the eight league head coaches. That makes the two instate rivals co-preseason favorites – a fact that will surely spark debate amongst league fans between now and the start of the season. The Cajuns did secure four first place votes, while the Warhawks had two. However, ULM's star quarterback Kolton Browning leads the Preseason All-Sun Belt team in being named the Preseason Offensive Player of the Year.
While the two Louisiana foes topped the preseason poll, two time defending champion Arkansas State was picked third with 45 total points and the Red Wolves had two first place votes of their own. Despite the third place nod, ASU had the most players selected to the Preseason All-Conference team with seven total selections.
While ASU earned 45 points, the Bobby Petrino led WKU Hilltoppers trail by only one point for fourth place with 44 points. The Hilltoppers had the second highest amount of selections on the preseason all-conference team with five. Among the WKU selections for individual preseason honors was linebacker Andrew Jackson who was also named the league's Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.
Troy was chosen as the fifth team in the poll with league newcomer Texas State in sixth, South Alabama in seventh and Football Bowl Subdivision first year participant Georgia State in eighth. Both Troy and USA had three selections on the preseason team.
2013 Preseason Sun Belt Poll
As voted on by the league's eight head coaches.
First place votes in parentheses.