LAKE CHARLES, La. (UCA) - The University of Central Arkansas Bears were picked fourth in both the preseason Southland Conference polls released Wednesday at Southland Conference Media Day at the L'Auberge du Lac Resort.
The Bears, under new head coach Steve Campbell, had 72 votes in the Sports Information Directors' poll and 70 in the head coaches' poll. UCA, which finished in a fourth-place tie last season, has two SLC championships to its name since joining the conference in 2007.
"It's nice to be picked fourth in both of the preseason polls,' said Campbell, "but they are just that, preseason polls. It looks like they basically mirror how everyone finished last season. The (preseason) polls are nice for our fans and boosters and gives people something to talk about.
"But the poll we are really concerned with is the final poll at the end of the season. That's the one that really matters.'
Defending champion Southeastern Louisiana is first in both polls, followed by McNeese State, Sam Houston State, UCA and Northwestern State. The two polls are identical except for the sixth spot, which has Stephen F. Austin and Lamar tied in the coaches' poll, while SFA is ahead of Lamar in the SID's poll. Abilene Christian is eighth in both polls, followed by Nicholls, Incarnate Word and Houston Baptist.
The Bears open the 2014 season in Lubbock, Texas, on Aug. 30 against FBS Texas Tech. UCA's first home game is Sept. 6 against UT Martin. The Bears will play six home games this season, including SLC matchups with Nicholls (Sept. 27), Houston Baptist (Oct. 11), Northwestern State for Homecoming (Oct. 25) and Lamar (Nov. 8).
"I think opening the season at Texas Tech has been a big motivational factor for our players and our coaching staff,' said Campbell. "We know we open with a team that beat the Pac 12 South champion (Arizona State) in the Holiday Bowl. We know what we are up against and we're excited about it.'