SoCon botches media day

imagesHere are some of the headlines that followed the Southern Conference media day Wednesday in Spartanburg:

Georgia Southern Tabbed Consensus Favorite for Southern Conference Crown

Georgia Southern tops SoCon preseason polls

Georgia Southern football picked No. 1 by SoCon coaches, media

SoCon Media Choose Eagles as Preseason Favorites

Departing Mountaineers, Eagles chasing SoCon title

Even the SoCon’s own website followed suit:

Coaches Tab GSU Football Favorite

Well … No, no, no, no, no and no.

None of these headlines reflect the bottom line of the voting in the SoCon’s preseason polls, which is that the media picked Wofford and the coaches Chattanooga as the favorites among the teams eligible to win the SoCon football championship.

GSU and App won’t be winning championships of any kind this season, as they begin the transition to FBS and the Sun Belt. Both programs will be over the FCS 63-scholarship limit, which makes them ineligible for the FCS playoffs and thus the SoCon title and automatic playoff berth.

In an effort to avoid appearing “vindictive” toward departing members GSU and App, the SoCon botched media day by allowing the Eagles and Mountaineers to be part of the preseason polls. The policy was apparently set by league athletic directors, who pride themselves on “collegiality.”

But it was wrong-headed.

Coaches routinely dismiss preseason polls as meaningless, and they are as far as the games go. But they aren’t meaningless in terms of publicity, which is the entire reason they exist. SoCon media day is one of the few days out of the year in which the league can get some headlines around the country. Unfortunately, many of today’s headlines are just plain wrong.

Allowing GSU and App players to be on the preseason all-SoCon teams was proper. But the SoCon should not have allowed GSU and App to be part of the preseason polls. Nothing vindictive about that; just common sense and a truer picture of the league this season. And I told the commissioner that during the season, App State and GSU should be listed at the bottom of the SoCon standings with an asterisk, again to provide a true picture of the league in newspapers and on websites across the country.

In fact, I think the right thing to do is to treat games against GSU and App as non-conference games. They would count on The Citadel’s overall record, for example, but not on the Bulldogs’  league mark. But the league has decided to count games against GSU and App as conference games.

Furman, bless the Paladins, even went so far as to list the SoCon polls this way on its website:

2013 SoCon Football Preseason Coaches Poll*
1) Chattanooga (47)
2) Samford (43)
3) Wofford (40)
4) The Citadel (33)
5) Furman (25)
6) Elon (16)
7) Western Carolina (12)

2013 SoCon Football Preseason Media Poll*
1) Wofford (194)
2) Chattanooga (176)
3) Samford (149)
4) The Citadel (126)
5) Furman (107)
6) Elon (161)
7) Western Carolina (47)

*Polls do not include Georgia Southern and Appalachian State due to NCAA-designated FBS transition status for 2013 season.

This is the way it should have been done. And today we’d see headlines like “Chattanooga, Wofford SoCon favorites” which would have the virtue of being true.

Thus endeth today’s sermon.







5 thoughts on “SoCon botches media day

  1. Pingback: SoCon botches media day | Charleston News

  2. Once again a great article where hammer hits nail. I’m a fanatic Samford Fan who always admires your work and your knowledge of FCS. Wish there was someone like you in B’ham.

  3. From a diehard App State fan, I absolutely agree with you. Neither App nor Ga Southern should have been in the So Con polls. The So Con should be thinking about and promoting their future, not their past.

    • The SoCon will be collecting about $3 million from departing schools over the next couple of years. The commish has said he wants to devote some of that money toward helping SoCon schools update their video equipment with an eye toward having all football and men’s basketball games “ESPN3 ready” and for a “common digital platform” that he hopes will be in place by 2014. That way, all SoCon games could be live-streamed through the SoCon website. Also, the money could help SoCon teams get on “real TV”, ie cable channels. It will NOT simply be divided up and sent to the schools, that’s for sure

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