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(Rick Hickman/American Press)

(Rick Hickman/American Press)

One day at a time begins now

Last Modified: Wednesday, July 23, 2014 10:38 AM

By Alex Hickey / American Press

Media day is the first day of the college football Advent calendar.

That moment is here in the Southland Conference as league coaches and players will descend on L’Auberge du Lac Resort today for the daylong event.

For fans, the most exciting part of the day tends to be the big reveal of where teams are picked to finish in the league standings, which in turn creates the reaction “See! We’re gonna be good this year!” or “Well, that’s why they don’t play the games on paper.”

There’s not much mystery who will be picked atop both preseason polls — defending conference champion Southeastern Louisiana had a league-high 15 players on the preseason all-conference team, including player of the year Bryan Bennett at quarterback.

If the all-conference teams are an indicator — and they usually are — McNeese figures to be picked second after placing 10 players on the preseason team. That’s also bearing in mind that none of the transfers who the Cowboys are expecting to be key contributors this year — including quarterback Daniel Sams, running backs Derrick Milton and Nate Holmes, and defensive end Brian Hine — are preseason all-conference.

It’s anyone’s guess as to how the rest of the league is expected to stack up in a year marked by tremendous changes in the conference.

Central Arkansas has been a top-tier program under coach Clint Conque, but Conque will be wearing a different shade of purple today after departing for Stephen F. Austin in the offseason.

Sam Houston State has been the recent gold-standard in the Southland, but will also be starting anew after coach Willie Fritz was hired by Georgia Southern in its first year as a Football Bowl Subdivision program.

And then there’s the newcomers.

Houston Baptist, Abilene Christian and Incarnate Word each played a handful of Southland opponents last year, but this marks the first time each will have a full eight-game SLC slate. ACU and UIW are not eligible to win the conference title, though, as they continue their transition from Division II.

This year also marks the last season of an eight-game conference schedule — starting next year, each team will have nine conference games.

That, of course, is looking well ahead. For today is the first day of many coaches will be able to drop the familiar refrain, “We’re just taking it one day at a time.”

One day closer to football.

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