The Seawolves, which became the first team in Conference history last season to go 6-0 in League play, enter the 2012 campaign with 41 letterwinners returning, including 17 starters. Head coach Chuck Priore's squad has gone 19-4 in the Big South the past four years and is ranked No. 16 in the preseason by Athlon and No. 24 by Lindy's. Stony Brook, which led the nation in scoring last season with 38.0 points per game, received 15 of 18 first-place votes cast and 123 total points to win the Big South football championship this season.
Liberty, under the direction of new head coach Turner Gill, is picked to finish second to the Seawolves in 2012. The Flames went 5-1 in the League last season for the third consecutive year and has won five Conference games four-straight seasons. Liberty, which returns 15 starters in 2012, collected the three remaining first-place votes and 108 total points in the voting. For the fourth-straight year, Coastal Carolina is predicted to finish third, as new head coach Joe Moglia and the Chanticleers received 74 total points.
Presbyterian College, which is coming off its best Conference season with a .500 record in 2011, finished fourth in this year's voting with 69 points -- the Blue Hose's highest position in the preseason football ranking. PC and fourth-year head coach Harold Nichols are eligible for the Big South football championship for the first time this season. Gardner-Webb, under the direction of second-year head coach Ron Dickerson Jr., finished just behind Presbyterian in the fifth spot with 65 points. The VMI Keydets and fifth-year head coach Sparky Woods are again predicted to finish sixth this season, having collected 38 points from the panel. Charleston Southern rounds out the preseason poll in seventh-place, as Jay Mills' Buccaneers find themselves in the final spot in the voting for the first time since 2005 -- the same year CSU tied for the regular-season title.
All seven Big South teams open the season on Saturday, Sept. 1. The opening slate includes four home games and three road contests, including the League's first of nine games against FBS schools this season. In 2010, the Big South defeated two FBS opponents for the first time in League history. Conference play starts Saturday, Oct. 6 and the regular-season concludes Saturday, Nov. 17, with the Big South champion receiving the League's automatic bid to the FCS Playoffs.
|RK||Preseason Poll (first-place votes)||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||Total|
|1.||Stony Brook (15)||15||3||--||--||--||--||--||123|
Note: points are based on a weighted system, with first-place votes receiving 7 points, followed by 6 points for second-place, and so on.