College Sports Journal
SOMERSET, NJ – UAlbany became quite familiar with first place in the Northeast Conference Football Preseason Coaches’ Poll during the previous decade, having resided there for four consecutive years from 2006 through 2009. Now, after a two-year hiatus, Bob Ford’s Great Danes are once again the preseason favorite to capture the NEC crown and the automatic NCAA berth that comes along with it.
UAlbany pulled in six of the nine first-place votes to finish atop the 2012 preseason survey of the conference’s head coaches.
"It means that [the other coaches] think we have enough talent to repeat," said UAlbany head coach Bob Ford during Thursday’s media teleconference. "We have a tough conference because any team can beat you any given weekend."
Fifth-year NEC member Duquesne, which shared the 2011 league title with the Great Danes, took second in the poll while garnering one top nod. Set for its inaugural season of NCAA Division I postseason eligibility, Bryant captured the remaining two first-place votes and found itself in third place in the annual summertime survey.
Central Connecticut, the league’s preseason favorite in both 2010 and 2011, earned fourth-place status this time around. Monmouth and Robert Morris, two charter members of NEC football, came in at fifth and sixth place, respectively. Wagner took the seventh spot ahead of Sacred Heart (eighth) and Saint Francis (PA) (ninth).
Earning preseason favorite status has not necessarily resulted in championship titles for UAlbany, or any NEC program for that matter. Only twice since 2006 has the team who finished atop the preseason poll gone onto claim sole possession of the NEC crown. On the two occasions that it did occur, however, it was UAlbany who accomplished the feat.
For the third year running, the Northeast Conference will reward its champion with an automatic berth into the NCAA FCS playoffs.
All nine teams will participate in non-conference contests during Week 1 of the college football schedule, six of those games will pit NEC members up against either a FBS program or an opponent that was ranked amongst the top-16 teams in the final 2011 AFCA Top 25 Coaches’ Poll.
2012 NEC Football Preseason Coaches’ Poll
1. UAlbany (6)
2. Duquesne (1)
3. Bryant (2)
4. Central Connecticut
6. Robert Morris
8. Sacred Heart
9. Saint Francis (PA)
First place votes in parentheses ().hes were not permitted to vote for their own team