2009: 8-3, 5-1 in Big South
Coach: Danny Rocco (32-13 in four seasons and overall)
Returning Starters: 14 (7 offense, 7 defense)
Key Players Returning: QB Mike Brown, WR Chris Summers, OL Alex Stadler, DL Asa Chapman, LB Doncel Bolt, DB Brent Vinson
Big Shoes To Fill: Quarterback Tommy Beecher played only one season but was efficient and made few mistakes in leading the offense. Mike Brown takes over at QB after splitting his time at receiver, running back and QB last fall.
Outlook: Liberty clearly has the top program in the league right now and with the playoff berth available this season, the Flames should grab it. Liberty returns experience on both sides of the ball and Brown is a dynamic performer at quarterback.
2. Stony Brook
2009: 6-5, 5-1 in Big South
Coach: Chuck Priore (22-22 in four seasons at Liberty and 61-31 in 10 seasons overall)
Returning Starters: 8 (4 offense, 4 defense)
Key Players Returning: RB Edwin Gowins, QB Michael Coulter, OL Brian Crew, LB Stephen Schwicke, FS Arlin West, DL Michael Marino
Big Shoes To Fill: Running back Conte Cuttino rushed for 800 yards last season and is one of the best backs in school history. Fortunately, the team's leading rusher, Edwin Gowins, returns, but having only one primary back instead of a two-headed monster will put more emphasis on quarterback play.
Outlook: Despite the loss of some valuable players, the program is very solid and should again contend for the league title. Gowins is arguably the best back in the league and will get a lot more carries this season. Staying healthy will be a key. If that happens, the Seawolves will be in the hunt.
3. Coastal Carolina
2009: 5-6, 3-3 in Big South
Coach: David Bennett (50-29 in seven seasons at CCU and 113-46 in 14 seasons overall)
Returning Starters: 16 (7 offense, 9 defense)
Key Players Returning: QB Zack MacDowall, OL Seth Smalls, WR Brandon Whitley, LB Chris Walls, DE Robert Balkunas
Big Shoes To Fill: DE Phillip Oboh was a force defensively last season, earning all-conference honors with nine tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks, both team highs. He was a guy that opposing teams had to game plan for and his presence will be missed.
Outlook: Coastal has been quite average over the last three seasons after opening their program with a dominant run seven years ago. This team has more experience returning than any of the last three and should be improved. Anything short of a solid title run and a top three finish would be a major disappointment.
4. Charleston Southern
2009: 6-5, 4-2 in Big South
Coach: Jay Mills (40-38 in seven seasons at CSU and 43-59 in 10 seasons overall)
Returning Starters: 15 (8 offense, 7 defense)
Key Players Returning: QB A.J. Toscano, WR Gerald Stevenson, OL Jordan Lancaster, DL Joel Walton, LB Chris Patrick, DB Chris Kuzdale
Big Shoes To Fill: Running back Antwan Ivey transferred to North Alabama after only one season at CSU. Ivey led the team in rushing with 490 yards and was third on the team with 29 receptions. He also averaged 9.5 yards per punt return with one TD.
Outlook: The Bucs have enough experience returning at key positions to make a serious run at the league title. They must improve in ball security and they need to have a consistent running game. Defensively, the Bucs have to be more consistent and will have to improve against the run.
2009: 6-5, 3-3 in Big South
Coach: Steve Patton (83-58 in 13 seasons at GWU and 113-82 in 16 seasons overall)
Returning Starters: 17 (8 offense, 9 defense)
Key Players Returning: RB Patrick Hall, WR James Perry, LB Marty Patterson, DB Cedric McGowan, LB Jeffrey Williams
Big Shoes To Fill: Quarterback Stan Doolittle has graduated and the consistency and headiness will be missed. Doolittle passed for 2,268 yards and 11 TDs and only five interceptions. He was also the team's second-leading rusher.
Outlook: With a new quarterback, the Bulldogs will rely on a veteran defensive unit to keep things close. The top rusher, Patrick Hill, does return and the receiving corps is as good as it gets in the league. The Bulldogs should be better than a .500 team in the conference and will be if the quarterback play is solid.
2009: 2-9, 1-5 in Big South
Coach: Sparky Woods (6-16 in two seasons at VMI and 69-62-5 in 13 seasons overall)
Returning Starters: 15 (6 offense, 9 defense)
Key Players Returning: DB Byron Allen, WR Mario Scott, OL Aaron Blue, DL Josh Wine, OLB Emilio Calvin
Big Shoes To Fill: Tim Maypray was the league's most exciting offensive player over the last two years. Maypray played QB and running back and returned kicks, a virtual one-man show at times. Replacing his big play ability is going to be tough, if not impossible.
Outlook: The Keydets lost more than 90 percent of their offensive production and are completely rebuilding in the offensive backfield. The defense should be solid but this could be a long season for Woods.
2009: 0-11, 0-6 in Big South
Coach: Harold Nichols (0-11 in one season at PC and overall)
Returning Starters: 17 (9 offense, 8 defense)
Key Players Returning: QB Brandon Miley, RB Lance Byrd, WR Patrick McKoy, DB Justin Bethel, OL Jared Tavernier
Big Shoes To Fill: The Blue Hose return nearly their entire starting lineup on both sides of the ball so there are few major shoes to fill. The biggest loss may have been Tim Webb, the backup quarterback who played considerably last season. Miley will be the most experienced quarterback on the roster and his backups are pretty green.
Outlook: Things will be better for the Blue Hose this fall as Nichols returns a lot of experience. The defense will be better overall and Miley has the tools to successfully lead the offense. Sophomore running back Lance Byrd should have a good season as well.