ROCK HILL, S.C. (release) -- South Atlantic Conference football coaches picked Carson-Newman to finish 2012 in the same place it finished 2011 – in fifth place in the SAC standings.
The standings were released Monday by the conference office.
While the Eagles went 5-6 overall and 3-4 in league play, they had to overcome injuries to 20 players and 12 starters at various points throughout the 2011 campaign.
“It doesn’t mean a hill of beans at this point,” head coach Ken Sparks said. “If you get too high or too low over some preseason poll, there’s something not right with your brain.”
Even with the injuries, Carson-Newman still finished fifth in the nation (second in the conference behind Lenoir-Rhyne) in yards rushing, while its defense was ranked second in the conference in scoring, passing yards allowed, rush yards allowed, total defense and pass efficiency defense.
“I think our kids are determined to do the very best we can,” Sparks said. “That’s the poll I’m interested in – the Lord being able to tell us that ‘you did the very best you could to develop yourself to be everything I created you to be.’ Now if we pass that poll, then I’m in.”
L-R tops the preseason coaches’ poll with 46 points, including four of the eight first-place votes. The Bears went 7-3 overall and 6-1 in the SAC last season, splitting the league title with Mars Hill.
2011 SAC co-champion Mars Hill is second in the 2012 preseason poll with 35 points and two first-place votes. The Lions are coming off the best season in program history, in which they won eight games and earned their first-ever bid to the NCAA Division II Football Championship.
Newberry and Wingate tied for third in the 2012 preseason poll with 33 points, and each received one first-place vote. Both programs went 4-3 in the conference last season.
It’s only the second time since 1987 that C-N wasn’t the preseason favorite to win the league.
2012 SAC Football Preseason Coaches Poll
Team Points (1st-place votes)
1. Lenoir-Rhyne 46 (4)
2. Mars Hill 35 (2)
3. Newberry 33 (1)
Wingate 33 (1)
5. Carson-Newman 26
6. Tusculum 24
7. Catawba 18
8. Brevard 9