Remember all the way back to last football season, when the Gulf South Conference was still being called “The SEC of Division 2 Football”? What a difference a year makes. Last season Balladeer’s Blog covered the departure of teams from the GSC and the Lone Star Conference in order to form the Great American Conference. The Gulf South was hit the worst, losing over half their football schools, as opposed to three from the LSC. Though retaining an overall membership of nine institutions only five of those remaining GSC schools sponsor football. Wow.
The Delta State Statesmen are the preseason pick to rule this post-apocalypse landscape of a conference. The coaches in the GSC voted (and presumably then had time for lots and lots of World of Warcraft) and the Statesmen/Fighting Ochra got two first-place votes and two second-place votes (with Steve Spurrier voting for the Gators and Duke – rimshot) for a total of fourteen points. Here’s the complete list in descending order of points (and by a fluke the teams also fell in alphabetical order, so don’t e-mail me to say I made a mistake and just listed them alphabetically):
1. DELTA STATE STATESMEN – The Statesemen made it all the way to the Championship Game last December before losing to the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs in a very odd game.
2. NORTH ALABAMA LIONS – THE Terry Bowden and his Lions seem to alternate with Delta State in knocking each other out of the playoffs so this year it may be UNA’s turn to advance at the expense of DSU.
3. VALDOSTA STATE BLAZERS – In some malicious circles the Blazers have been accused of sinking into virtual irrelevance since the 2007 season when they won the D2 title. With so few teams left in the conference failing to win at least the GSC title will fan those flames. (Get it? Blazers … flames? Of course you do.)
4. WEST ALABAMA TIGERS – The good news is that with all the defections to the Great American Conference West Alabama is now the only team called Tigers in the GSC. The bad news is they still have an uphill fight to become a factor.
5. WEST GEORGIA WOLVES – Well, once upon a time the Wolves might have been thrilled with being picked to come in fifth in the Gulf South, but that was when the conference had eleven football teams. Hopefully the GSC can lure more football schools so they can avoid going from being the Southeastern Conference of D2 to being the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference of D2.