SIU football was picked to finish fourth this fall during last week's Missouri Conference virtual media day.
A select gaggle of sports information professionals, members of the media and coaches got to vote on who they think will win the league. The group ranks 10 teams by how they think they may perform during the 2021 season.
But the usually subjective picks became even more subjective after the 2020 season ran into the COVID wall last summer. So it was hard for participants to estimate potentialities of various teams when some (Indiana State) did not participate in the spring season and others (Western Illinois, University of South Dakota and Illinois State) quit by mid-season.
WIU and Illinois State,for example, didn't play SIU in the latter part of last spring. So the Dawgs had to scramble to schedule a late-spring game with Southeastern Louisiana.
Fortunately, it was a win against those Lions that propelled Nick Hill's team into the FCS playoffs.
However, even a win against no. 1-rated Weber State and a close (5 points) loss to no. 2 South Dakota State University in those playoffs didn't convince voters that SIU was going to be any better than fourth this fall.
Nevertheless, SIU's team garnered 345 points -- just ahead of UND in said poll. SDSU led the poll with 454 points. NDSU was rated no. 2 (435 points), and UND (357) was rated third.
Oddly enough, SIU had the most members picked to the pre-season All-MVFC team of any team in the Valley (13 in total!). SIU had Avante Cox, ZeVeyon Furcron, Jordan Berner, Qua Brown, James Ceasar and sophomore Javon Williams Jr. picked as First Team members. And seven more Dawgs were named to the MVFC Second and Honorable Mention teams.
SIU will have 20 of its 22 starters returning for 2021. Fall practice sessions start Aug. 4 in Saluki Stadium. SIU opens the season by traveling to Cape Girardeau Aug. 28 to meet Southeast Missouri State.