Liberty Voted 2010 Preseason Football Favorite

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (www.BigSouthSports.com) - For the fourth consecutive season, Liberty University has been tabbed as the favorite in the Big South Conference's annual preseason football poll for the 2010 campaign, as voted by the League's head coaches and media panel and announced today at the 2010 Big South Conference Football Kickoff Media Luncheon at the Renaissance Charlotte Suites Hotel in Charlotte, N.C.

The Flames, which have won or shared the Big South title each of the past three years, is the first team in League history to be chosen as the preseason favorite four-straight seasons.  Liberty enters the 2010 campaign with 43 letterwinners returning, including 14 starters.  Head coach Danny Rocco's squad has gone 26-8 overall and 14-1 in the Big South the past three years, and is ranked No. 19 in the preseason College Sporting News poll.  Liberty, which carries a Big South-record nine-game home Conference game win streak into the 2010 season, received 13 of 15 first-place votes cast and 103 total points to win the Big South football championship this season.

Big South associate member and 2009 co-champion Stony Brook is picked to finish second to the Flames in 2010.  Chuck Priore's Seawolves went 5-1 in the League last season and defeated Liberty 36-33 in the season finale to win a share of the League crown.  Stony Brook, which returns 13 starters in 2010, collected one first-place vote and 81 total points in the voting.  For the second-straight year, Coastal Carolina is predicted to finish third (68 total points), but have 22 starters back among head coach David Bennett's 60 returning letterwinners.

Jay Mills' Charleston Southern Buccaneers, which have closed out each of the past two seasons with four consecutive wins, are predicted to finish fourth in 2010, having received one first-place vote and 65 total points.  The Bucs have an experienced squad this season with 18 starters returning.  Steven Patton's Gardner-Webb Runnin' Bulldogs finished in the fifth-spot in the poll with 54 total points.  It is the lowest Gardner-Webb has ever been predicted to finish since Big South football began in 2002.  VMI and third-year head coach Sparky Woods are again predicted to finish sixth this season, having collected 31 points from the panel.  Presbyterian College, under the direction of second-year head coach Harold Nichols, rounds out the preseason poll in seventh-place.  The Blue Hose enter their final year of transitioning to Division I as official Conference opponents in 2010, but are not eligible for the Big South football championship until 2011.

The 2010 season begins with Presbyterian College in action on Thursday night, Sept. 2 at FBS-member Wake Forest on ESPN3.com, the League's first of a record 10 games against FBS schools.  Conference play starts Saturday, Oct. 2 and the regular-season concludes Saturday, Nov. 20.  The Big South's football champion receives an automatic bid to the FCS Playoffs for the first time in League history.

2010 Preseason Poll (first-place votes)      1     2      3      4     5     6     7     Points
1.  Liberty (13)......................................91  12   --   --   --   --   --       103
2.  Stony Brook (1)..................................7  42  25    4    3   --   --        81
3.  Coastal Carolina................................--  24  20  16    6    2   --        68
4.  Charleston Southern (1)......................7  12  15  20    9    2   --        65
5.  Gardner-Webb...................................--  --   15  20  18   --    1        54
6.  VMI..................................................--  --    --   --    9  20    2        31
7.  Presbyterian College...........................--  --    --   --   --   6   12        18

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.