COACHES POLL

Team (First-place votes) Points

1. Chattanooga (6) 48

2. Furman (1) 40

(tie) Samford (1) 40

4. Wofford 30

5. Western Carolina 24

6. The Citadel 22

7. Mercer 10

(tie) VMI 10

MEDIA POLL

Team (First-place votes) Points

1. Chattanooga (29) 235

2. Furman (1) 203

3. Samford 174

4. Wofford 155

5. Western Carolina 105

6. The Citadel 103

7. Mercer 67

8. VMI 38

New Citadel coach Mike Houston is not putting much stock in the Southern Conference preseason football polls, which picked his Bulldogs to finish sixth in the league this season.

On the other hand, the subject might come up during preseason practice.

"To me, preseason polls are meaningless," said Houston, who takes over a Citadel team that finished 5-7 overall and 4-4 in the league last season under former coach Kevin Higgins. "The only one that matters is the standings at the end of the year. But it's obviously a motivating item for our team, and I might mention it to them once or twice during preseason camp."

Chattanooga, one of three teams to share the SoCon title last year, was the top choice among coaches and media, earning six of eight first-place votes from the coaches and 29 of 30 from the media. Furman and Samford each received one first-place votes from coaches, and Furman got the only non-Chattanooga vote by the media.

It was a bit of a surprise that The Citadel finished behind No. 5 Western Carolina in both polls. The Catamounts were 2-10 overall and 1-7 in the league last year, but return 20 starters for third-year coach Mark Speir.

"Based on last season, we didn't really prove ourselves," said Citadel senior quarterback Aaron Miller. "We didn't play to our max potential last year, and we have a new coaching staff, so I can see why people chose us to be sixth. We just to take it game by game and compete to show we are better than that."

League newcomers Mercer, led by former Furman coach Bobby Lamb, and VMI, under former South Carolina coach Sparky Woods, brought up the rear in both polls.

Citadel defensive end Justin Oxendine and linebacker Carl Robinson were named to the coaches preseason all-SoCon first team. Chattanooga QB Jacob Huesman was named offensive player of the year, with teammate and defensive lineman Davis Tull the defensive player of the year.

Wofford coach Mike Ayers was late to media day, but he had a good excuse. His fourth grandchild, a girl named Madison Grace, was born Wednesday morning to Ayers' daughter, Courtney ... Samford coach Pat Sullivan, recovering from surgery, did not make the trip.

The Citadel's helmet this season will feature the name of each player's company on the back, Houston said. The helmet on display Wednesday had "Foxtrot" on the back ... The Bulldogs begin practice on Aug. 4.

The all-SoCon preseason first-team offense: QB Jacob Huesman, Chattanooga; RB Hank McCloud, Furman; RB Keon Williams, Chattanooga; OL Charles Emert, Furman; OL Gunnar Bromelow, Samford; OL Synjen Herren, Chattanooga; OL Josh Wineberg, W. Carolina; OL T.J. Chamberlin, Wofford; TE Faysal Shafaat, Chattanooga; WR Andrej Shuttles, Furman; WR Karnorris Benson, W. Carolina.

First-team defense: DL Justin Oxendine, The Citadel; DL Gary Wilkins, Furman; DL Davis Tull, Chattanooga; DL Tarek Odom, Wofford; LB Carl Robinson, The Citadel; LB Marcus McMorris, Furman; LB Carl Rider, Furman; DB Reggie Thomas, Furman; DB James Bradberry, Samford; DB Jaquiski Tartt, Samford; DB Sertonuse Harris, W. Carolina.

First-team specialists: PK Warren Handrahan, Samford; P Greg Peranich, Samford; RS Shaun Warren, W. Carolina.