SPOKANE, Wash. — Montana and Montana State are top-four Big Sky Conference teams, according to the conference's 2021 preseason media and coaches polls released Monday.
UM is No. 2 in both polls, with four first-place votes in the media poll and one in the coaches poll. MSU is No. 4 in both and received four first-place votes from the media and one from the coaches.
"It shows progress that people see us in that light," Montana coach Bobby Hauck told 406mtsports.com at Big Sky media day Monday at the Davenport Grand hotel. "We're excited for the season, certainly, and I'm glad that others kind of feel about us the way we feel about ourselves right now."
The media and coaches overwhelmingly picked Weber State to be the Big Sky's top team. The Wildcats received 14 of 24 first-place votes from the media and seven of 13 from the coaches. The team from Ogden, Utah, won the conference's spring 2021 title and finished tied for first in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
Eastern Washington was ranked third in both the media and coaches polls, and Sacramento State is No. 5 in each.
Montana and Montana State tied for third place with EWU in 2019. The Grizzlies won both of their games this past spring, and the Bobcats skipped the entire season, which was postponed from the fall because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Preseason polls are rarely predictive, given the turnover and unpredictability of college sports. That's especially true for this coming Big Sky football season, given that none of the conference's teams played more than seven games this past season and three (MSU, Northern Colorado and Sacramento State) didn't play any.
"There are so many factors that are less traditional this year, whether it's who played or who didn't play in the spring. In our situation, a new coach, haven't played since '19. I certainly don't think these polls can be reflected for where teams finished in '19," MSU coach Brent Vigen said Monday. "We'll play the games and let the real stuff happen."