Park City • Weber State coach Jay Hill wasn’t surprised.
Neither was Southern Utah’s Ed Lamb.
Big Sky polls
The Big Sky Conference preseason football polls. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team. Listed are first-place votes and total points.
1. Eastern Washington 12 144
2. Montana 1 130
3. Montana State 0 111
4. Cal Poly 0 108
5. Northern Arizona 0 100
6. Southern Utah 0 89
7. Sacramento State 0 79
8. Portland State 0 71
9. UC Davis 0 66
10. North Dakota 0 34
11. Weber State 0 30
12. Idaho State 0 28
13. Northern Colorado 0 23
1. Eastern Washington 34 464
2. Montana 1 416
3. Montana State 1 364
4. Cal Poly 0 329
5. Northern Arizona 0 328
6. Southern Utah 0 299
7. UC Davis 0 228
8. Portland State 0 227
9. Sacramento State 0 222
10. Idaho State 0 124
11. North Dakota 0 121
12. Weber State 0 103
13. Northern Colorado 0 61
Both coaches expected their teams to finish exactly where they ended up in the Big Sky Conference preseason football poll, which was released Tuesday at the league’s annual summer meetings.
Weber State, coming off a 2-10 season and heading into Hill’s first year on the job, was picked 11th in the coaches poll and 12th in the media poll.
Southern Utah, which went 8-5 last season and reached the FCS playoffs for the first in school history, finished sixth in both polls.
"Based on what we’ve done the last two years — our record — that’s exactly where you would expect us to be," said Hill, a former assistant at the University of Utah.
"You have to consider things like returning starters and if your quarterback is back — those are the things that get looked at. So we’re exactly where we expected to be."
Hill learned a lesson about preseason polls when he was with the Utes.
"… The years we were picked near the bottom, we finished near the top," he said. "When we were picked to finish at the top, we finished in the middle of the pack somewhere. So we, as coaches, don’t put a ton [into] the polls.
Meanwhile, Lamb was far from offended at being picked behind Eastern Washington, Montana, Montana State, Cal Poly and Northern Arizona in this year’s polls.
"That’s exactly where I predicted," he said. "Polls are always a very accurate depiction — 80 or 90 percent — of a program’s winning tradition over the last five or seven years. …
"I think that’s how coaches look at it. It certainly isn’t something to get excited about when you’re high in the polls and it’s certainly nothing to get excited about when you’re picked low."
At the same time, Lamb says being pick in the first division of the ultra-competitive Big Sky "… shows a lot of respect for us from people around the league."
Junior defensive end James Cowser believes the Thunderbirds will be motivated by their first trip to the postseason, which ended with a 51-20 loss at Sam Houston State in the opening round.
"The playoffs were one of the most fun things I ever did in my life," Cowser said. "We’ve got to do it again."
At Weber State, senior defensive tackle Connor Myers knows a rebuilding process is underway. But he believes Hill has the Wildcats on the right track.
"It’s more of a blue-collar style and, as a team, we’ve embraced it," Myers said. "… We have more experience and more players — bigger, stronger players. I think we can really improve."
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