ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Chattanooga is the preseason pick to win its first league title since 2015 after going 6-5 overall and 5-3 in league play last season.
The Mocs, who spent eight weeks in the national rankings last season and handed ETSU its lone league loss, led Kentucky in the fourth quarter before ultimately falling by five and dropped its three league games by a combined 10 points. UTC features eight players that earned preseason all-conference recognition this season, including five on the first team, but must replace first-round NFL Draft pick Cole Strange, who became the SoCon’s first first-rounder since 1974.
The Mocs claimed five first-place votes and 60 points in the coaches poll and 18 of 30 first-place votes and 256 points in the media poll. Chattanooga is ranked 12th in the Athlon Sports Preseason FCS Top 25 and 16th in the HERO Sports Preseason FCS Top 25.
Defending SoCon champion ETSU is the runner-up in both polls, holding sole possession of second in the coaches poll with two first-place votes and 54 points and sharing the No. 2 spot in the media poll with seven first-place votes and 226 points.
The Bucs went 11-2 overall and 7-1 in league play last season, entering the national polls after stunning Vanderbilt in week one and never leaving, peaking at No. 7 in the AFCA FCS Coaches Top 25, where they finished the season. ETSU, which earned the No. 7 national seed in the NCAA Division I Football Championship and reached the quarterfinals in 2021, is under the direction of first-year head coach George Quarles. The Bucs had 10 players claim a league-best 11 spots on the preseason All-SoCon teams, including eight first-team positions, also a league high. ETSU enters the season ranked sixth nationally in the preseason by HERO Sports and 18th by Athlon Sports.
Mercer finished third in the preseason coaches poll and tied for second in the media poll, claiming one first-place vote and 53 points from the coaches and five first-place votes and 226 points from the media. The Bears, who finished second in the league last season at 7-3 overall and 6-2 in SoCon play, spent two weeks in the national rankings last year and put six players on the preseason All-SoCon squads. Mercer enters the season ranked 17th in the Athlon Sports Preseason FCS Top 25.
Furman, which was ranked for one week last season, picked up the remaining first-place vote in the coaches poll, finishing fourth with 43 points and combining for six preseason All-SoCon selections. The Paladins were also picked fourth by the media with 175 points.
Western Carolina is fifth in both polls, followed by Samford and VMI in the coaches poll, with those squads swapping places in the media poll. The Keydets were nationally ranked for nine weeks last season and grabbed the second-most preseason All-SoCon selections with 10, including linebacker Stone Snyder, who shared SoCon Defensive Player of the Year honors with Maxwell on the media team last season, and three first-team specialists.
The Citadel is eighth in the coaches poll and Wofford is ninth, with those teams switching positions in the media poll.
The SoCon’s 2022 season gets underway with Mercer hosting Morehead State on Saturday, Aug. 27, for a week zero game, followed by four games on Thursday, Sept. 1, and four games on Saturday, Sept. 3. Chattanooga will get its first SoCon test immediately, as it hosts Wofford to open the season on Sept. 3.
2022 Preseason Southern Conference Coaches Poll
Team (1st-place votes), Total
1. Chattanooga (5), 60
2. ETSU (2), 54
3. Mercer (1), 53
4. Furman (1), 43
5. Western Carolina, 38
6. Samford, 26
7. VMI, 23
8. The Citadel, 14
9. Wofford, 13
2022 Preseason Southern Conference Media Poll
Team (1st-place votes), Total
1. Chattanooga (18), 256
T-2. ETSU (7), 226
T-2. Mercer (5), 226
4. Furman, 175
5. Western Carolina, 125
6. VMI, 119
7. Samford, 106
8. Wofford, 60
9. The Citadel, 57
NOTE: Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team.
Congrove Computer Rankings SoCon Order of Finish
Complete SoCon Computer Rankings