|1||Norfolk State (8)||0-0||118||1|
|5||Alabama State (2)||0-0||87||5|
|6||South Carolina State||0-0||78||6|
|8||Florida A&M (1)||0-0||56||8|
By// Donal Ware
The Norfolk State Spartans, the defending Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champion, will start the season as the No. 1 ranked football team according to the 2012 Boxtorow Coaches Poll.
The Spartans finished first last season and received eight first place votes; Bethune-Cookman received three votes, Alabama State received two and Florida A&M garnered one.
The votes separating the Spartans and the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats was the closest margin ever in the preseason.
This also marked the first time — since the Black college sports talk show, Boxtorow, began administering the coaches’ poll in 2009 — that the previous conference champion did not receive a first-place vote.
The Grambling State Tigers won the SWAC championship last year; they finished third in the poll — nine points behind Bethune-Cookman and 12 points ahead of No. 4 Jackson State.
The MEAC, which has five teams represented in the top 10, has finished No. 1 in the previous three polls. The Southwestern Athletic Conference has four teams represented; Tennessee State represents the Ohio Valley Conference.
Norfolk State returns 13 starters— nine are offense and four are defense— as well as a total of 41 letter-winners from last year’s team, which finished 9-3 and won its first MEAC championship title since moving into the conference in 1998.
Among the returning starters are wide receiver Xavier Boyce and offensive lineman Blake Matthews; both of whom are Boxtorow All-Americans.
(Note: First-place votes are in parenthesis; other teams receiving votes are Arkansas-Pine Bluff 8, Morgan State 6, Prairie View A&M 6, North Carolina A&T 5.)
The Boxtorow HBCU FCS Coaches poll is administered by FROM THE PRESS BOX TO PRESS ROW and is voted on by the HBCU Football Championship Subdivision coaches.