Here is the story on the preseason Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference football poll. It ran in today's edition of The Courier. Also, if you want to watch a short interviews with each of the coaches from the GLIAC's virtual media day, you can check that out by clicking here.
By BRIAN LESTER
Jon Wauford isn't going to put much stock in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference preseason poll.
The rankings, released Wednesday morning, isn't set in stone and Wauford, in his fourth season as the head coach of the University of Findlay, is accustomed to seeing his team prove others wrong.
The Oilers are picked to finish sixth in the 14-team league. A year ago they were tabbed ninth and wound up tied for fourth in the GLIAC after posting their first winning season since 2004 with a 7-4 record.
"We usually do better than expected and it would be great to finish higher than (sixth)," Wauford said. "We want to exceed expectations. Our goal is to be better than we were the year before."
While the Oilers are near the middle of the pack in the league, there is no surprise at the top. Grand Valley State is the favorite for the ninth consecutive year and a contender for the NCAA Division II national championship.
The Lakers (13-2, 9-1), the defending conference champions, lost 30-23 to Northwest Missouri in the national final last season, falling short of their fifth national crown since 2002. GVSU received 13 of the 14 votes in the poll.
Hillsdale, tied with Saginaw Valley State for second, received the other vote.
The Chargers (10-3, 8-2) made a D-II postseason appearance for the first time in school history in 2009, defeating Minnesota Mankato 27-24 in overtime in the opening round before exiting the playoffs with a 44-27 loss to GVSU.
SVSU also made the playoffs but lost 35-20 in the opening round to Nebraska-Kearney to end its 9-3 campaign.
With three teams from the GLIAC reaching the playoffs, it is not out of the question for a team to fall short of winning the league title and still play beyond the regular season.
"Our focus is to win the conference championship," Wauford said. "It's a lofty goal and we've never done it before. The thing about lofty goals is that even if you don't reach them, good things can still happen."
Ashland and Northwood are in the fourth and fifth spots, respectively, while Northern Michigan, Wayne State, Michigan Tech and Indianapolis fill out the top 10.
Ferris State and Tiffin are 11th and 12th, respectively, while league newcomers Ohio Dominican and Lake Erie hold down the final two spots.
The Oilers spent most of last season in contention for a league title and playoff berth. They were ranked as high as 18th at one point before back-to-back losses to end the year wiped out any hope they had of making the playoffs.
UF returns 43 letterwinners, including 16 starters (nine offensive, seven defensive), and is gearing up for its 2010 opener against Tusculum (Tenn.) at noon on Sept. 4 at Donnell Stadium.
Things are beginning to clear up for the Oilers at the quarterback position. True freshman Zach Tate out of Columbia Central (Tenn.) is currently No. 1 on the depth chart.
Former McComb standout Kevan Westenbarger, a redshirt freshman, is the backup and Tennessee-Martin senior transfer John Soli is third on the depth chart.
"We haven't played any scrimmages yet but right now Tate is our No. 1 quarterback," Wauford said. "But every day all three players show improvement and that is a good sign."
2010 GLIAC Preseason Poll
1, Grand Valley State, Mich. (13) 169
2, (tie) Hillsdale, Mich. (1) 148
3, (tie) Saginaw Valley State, Mich. 148
4, Ashland 113
5, Northwood, Mich. 111
6, Findlay 102
7, Northern Michigan 101
8, Wayne State, Mich. 91
9, Michigan Tech 87
10, Indianapolis 78
11, Ferris State, Mich. 48
12, Tiffin 32
13, Ohio Dominican 27
14, Lake Erie 19