NASHVILLE — Jacksonville State is favored for the third time in the last four seasons and received 13 of 18 first-place votes by the Ohio Valley Conference's coaches and sports information directors in voting released Monday at OVC Media Day. Jacksonville State tied for second in the league and made the FCS playoffs after starting 2010 with a 49-48 double-overtime victory at Mississippi.
Murray State was predicted to finish runner-up and received four first-place votes. Racers junior quarterback Casey Brockman (2,442 yards, 15 TDs passing in eight games, 7 TDs rushing) was named the OVC's pre-season Offensive Player of the Year. He's also on the Walter Payton Award Watch List.
Eastern Kentucky was picked to finish third and had the most players voted pre-season All-OVC with five of its seven on defense. Defending OVC champion Southeast Missouri got one first-place vote and was picked fourth after earning its first playoff berth in 104 years with a 7-1 league record.
Murray returns 10 starters for Coach Chris Hatcher's "Hatch Attack" spread offense with Mike Harris rushing for 904 yards in only seven games last season. The Racers also have nine defensive starters, including All-OVC cornerback return specialist Dontrell Johnson, back from a 6-5 team.
Eastern Kentucky senior Jeremy Caldwell anchors the Colonels' secondary and earned All-America status as a returner. EKU defeated Jacksonville State and Murray during a four-game winning stretch to end last season.
Joker at ESPN 'Car Wash'
Joker Phillips will have a series of interviews in the ESPN "Car Wash" of Southeastern Conference head football coaches Tuesday in Bristol, Conn.
Phillips, along with Nick Saban of Alabama, Bobby Petrino of Arkansas, Mark Richt of Georgia, Les Miles of Louisiana State and James Franklin of Vanderbilt, will rotate among numerous interview opportunities.
Phillips is slated for three live appearances: ESPN.com Chat at 2:15 p.m.; ESPNNews SportsCenter at 3:20 p.m.; and Twitter.com/SportsCenter Chat at 3:30 p.m. Fans can participate in the ESPN.com chat and Twitter.com/SportsCenter chat.
Local store jeopardizes Bama players' eligibility
The University of Alabama told a local store to stop selling items signed by current athletes, which is a potential violation of NCAA rules.
University compliance director Mike Ward sent a letter to T-Town Menswear on Dec. 22, 2010, instructing him to "immediately cease and desist" selling, distributing or promoting items signed by or depicting current athletes.
The letter warned that the store could "jeopardize the student-athlete's eligibility." The NCAA prohibits using the likeness or name of a current college athlete to promote a product or service.
Hokies, FSU again ACC pre-season favorites
Florida State and Virginia Tech are the pre-season picks to meet in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game, with the Seminoles the choice to win their first league title since 2005.
The ACC announced the results Monday following a vote of 71 members of the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association. It's the third straight year Florida State and the Hokies were picked to win their divisions.
UT linebackerallegedly hit cars
Tennessee senior linebacker Austin Johnson allegedly tried to start a fight and hit cars while walking in a parking lot before being arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and public intoxication.
The 22-year-old was arrested just after 3 a.m. Sunday and released on $1,000 bond later that day. He is scheduled to appear in court Aug. 4.
A Knoxville police report says Johnson was seen with blood-shot eyes, slurred speech and smelling of alcohol before he was arrested in the parking lot behind the Tin Roof bar. Officers say Johnson told them he was drunk.
Purdue to play at Marshall
Marshall University will open the 2015 football season at home against Purdue.
Purdue will be the first Big Ten team to play in Huntington.
QB: Matt Scheible, Southeast Missouri
QB: Casey Brockman, Murray State
RB: Mike Harris, Murray State
RB: Ryan White, Austin Peay
RB: Dante' Thomas, Tennessee State
WR: Tim Benford, Tennessee Tech
WR: Orlandus Harris, Eastern Ky.
TE: Kenny Jones, UT-Martin
C: Tim Schmid, Austin Peay
OG: Eric Zink, Eastern Illinois
OG: Kadeem Edwards, Tennessee State
OG: Scott Schweitzer, Tennessee Tech
OT: Evan Conrad, Southeast Missouri
OT: Odie Rush, Jacksonville State
DL: Monte Lewis, Jacksonville State
DL: Emory Attig, Eastern Kentucky
DL: Jamison Wadley, Jacksonville State
DL: Artavious Dowdell, Eastern Illinois
DL: Anthony Brown, Eastern Kentucky
LB: Rico Council, Tennessee State
LB: Tyson Patrick, Eastern Kentucky
LB: Rodney Garrott, Jacksonville State
DB: Jeremy Caldwell, Eastern Ky.
DB: Keginald Harris, Jacksonville State
DB: Tylor Brock, Southeast Missouri
DB: Patrick McClellan, Eastern Ky.
DB: Dontrell Johnson, Murray State
DB: Kendal Harper, UT-Martin
K: Kienan Cullen, Murray State
P: Jordan Berry, Eastern Kentucky
RS: Dontrell Johnson, Murray State
Offensive Player of the Year: QB Casey Brockman, Murray State
Co-Defensive Player of the Year: DL Monte Lewis, Jacksonville State
Co-Defensive Player of the Year: LB Rico Council, Tennessee State
Predictions by coaches and sports information directors (with first-place votes in parentheses):
1. Jacksonville State (13) 123
2. Murray State (4) 106
3. Eastern Kentucky 93
4. Southeast Missouri (1) 81
5. Tennessee Tech 73
6. UT-Martin 64
7. Eastern Illinois 57
8. Tennessee State 33
9. Austin Peay 18