SPOKANE, Wash. — Montana State and Montana 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.
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.
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," MSU coach Brent Vigen said Monday. "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. We'll play the games and let the real stuff happen."
The Montana Grizzlies placed five players on the Big Sky preseason all-conference team, while the Montana State Bobcats placed two.
The Bobcats' selections are senior offensive guard Taylor Tuiasosopo and senior outside linebacker Troy Andersen, who finished in a tie with Weber State's Conner Mortensen.
Montana had the second most selections on the 30-player team. Weber State led the way with seven.
The Grizzlies' selections are senior wide receiver Sammy Akem, senior offensive tackle Conlan Beaver, senior middle linebacker Jace Lewis, junior safety Robby Hauck and senior longsnapper Matthew O'Donoghue.
Eastern Washington placed four players on the team, highlighted by senior quarterback Eric Barriere, who was named the Big Sky preseason offensive MVP.