After finishing No. 2 in last year’s final poll, Bethune-Cookman begins the 2013 collegiate football season at No.1 in this year’s Boxtorow FCS HBCU Coaches’ Poll.

The Bethune-Cookman Wildcats received 10 of 17 first-place votes in the annual poll which is administered twice yearly from the press box and press row, and voted on by coaches of Historically Black College and Universities (HBCU).

Arkansas-Pine Bluff (UAPB) garnered five first-place votes this preseason to finish at No. 2 behind Bethune-Cookman, and just one point ahead of the Tennessee State Tigers despite finishing last season in the top position in both preseason and post-season polls. Tennessee State received two first-place votes in the recent poll after finishing third in the final 2012 tally.

Bethune-Cookman’s margin of 19 poll points on No. 2 Arkansas-Pine Bluff is the biggest preseason lead for No. 1 since South Carolina State’s 24-point edge on Prairie View A&M heading into the 2010 season.

In the preseason voting, five of the top 10 teams are from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), and four are from the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), along with Tennessee State of the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference (OVAC). Last year, UAPB became the first non-MEAC team to finish the season ranked No.1 in the polls.

Bethune-Cookman and the Tennessee State open their seasons against one another on Sunday, Sept. 1 in the John Merritt Classic at LP Field in Nashville, also home to the NFL Tennessee Titans.

Traditionally, the team that has been ranked No. 1 in the polls at the close of the season has never lost its opening game the following year. Three of the last four seasons, the top-ranked team has played host in the season opener, and last year UAPB defeated Langston 17-14 in Little Rock.

Historically, no team that has started the season ranked No.1 has finished the season atop the poll. And despite not finishing in the top 10 last year, South Carolina State is the only team that has been in all five preseason polls. The No. 10 ranking is also the Bulldogs’ lowest preseason ranking.

This is the first year that Grambling, Florida A&M, Norfolk State, nor Hampton are in the preseason poll. In addition, this marks the first year that North Carolina Central, Howard and North Carolina A&T are in the preseason poll.

2013 Boxtorow FCS HBCU Preseason Football Coaches Poll

Rank School W-L Pts. Previous Rank
1. Bethune-Cookman (10) 9-3 160 2
2. Arkansas-Pine Bluff (5) 10-2 141 1
3. Tennessee State (2) 8-3 140 3
4. Alabama State 7-4 97 6
T-5 Jackson State 7-5 89 4
T-5 North Carolina A&T 7-4 89 5
7. North Carolina Central 6-5 42 10
8. Howard 7-4 41 7
9. Alabama A&M 7-4 33 8
10. South Carolina State 5-6 32 NR

Others receiving votes: Delaware State (6-5) 31, Southern (4-7) 11, Florida A&M (4-7) 9, Savannah State (1-10) 7, Alcorn State (4-7) 5, Mississippi Valley State (5-6) 2, Prairie View A&M (3-8) 2, Hampton (3-7) 2.

(Photo: HBCU coaches from left to right: Reggie Barlow, Alabama State Univ.; Monte Coleman; Univ. of Arkansas-Pine Bluff; Rick Comegy, Jackson State Univ.; Anthony Jones, Alabama A&M Univ.)

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