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Flames Football Program Tabbed as Big South Preseason Favorite
For the first time in program history, Liberty's football team will head into the year as the preseason favorite to win the Big South Conference title. The Flames were named this year's preseason favorite at the annual Big South Football Kickoff Media Luncheon held at the Embassy Suites Hotel, Friday afternoon.
Liberty received 12 out of 20 first-place votes from a voting panel which included members of the media, the league's head coaches and sports information directors. The Flames are just the third team to be named preseason favorites in the six years the league has sponsored the sport. Gardner-Webb was the conference's pick in 2002 and 2003, followed by Coastal Carolina's three-year run (2004-06) as the yearly preseason favorite.
Liberty, fresh off a tie for the nation's best turnaround in 2006, has already caught the attention of national media outlets. Lindy's College Football Preview ranks the Flames at No. 25 in the country and also predicts Liberty will win its first Big South football crown this season.
The Flames also received Top 25 votes in the preseason AnyGivenSaturday.com and CollegeSportingNews.com polls. Liberty, which went 6-5 last year and posted a five-win improvement over 2005, returns 39 letterwinners and 20 starters in 2007.
Coastal Carolina, coming off its third-straight league title and the conference's and school's first-ever berth in the FCS playoffs, finished second in this year's preseason poll with seven first-place votes and 79 points.
For the third-consecutive year, Gardner-Webb is predicted to finish third. The Bulldogs, which received one first-place vote and 63 points, returns the most letterwinners (54) and starters (21) in the conference for the 2007 season.
Charleston Southern's squad, which posted its best record in school history last year at 9-2, was voted fourth in the poll with 43 points. The Buccaneers tied for second in the league last year at 2-2. VMI rounded out the voting with 28 points. The Keydets dropped its four Big South games last year by a combined 19 points.
The Flames open training camp next week on Aug. 3 and their season 36 days from today when they host Tusculum on Sept. 1 for a 7 p.m. kickoff at Williams Stadium. Liberty begins conference play on the road this year as they travel to Charleston, S.C., to face the Buccaneers on Oct. 20 (1:30 p.m.).
2007 Preseason Poll (first-place votes) 1 2 3 4 5 Points 1. Liberty (12) 60 20 3 4 - 87 2. Coastal Carolina (7) 35 28 15 - 1 79 3. Gardner-Webb (1) 5 28 21 8 1 63 4. Charleston Southern - 4 18 16 5 43 5. VMI - - 3 12 13 28