Chattanooga, QB Huesman voted tops in Southern Conference
SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) The Huesmans have Chattanooga on a roll Southern Conference coaches don't anticipate slowing down this season.
The Mocs, led by coach Russ Huesman, were picked to win a third straight Southern Conference title while his son - Chattanooga quarterback Jacob Huesman - was predicted to win offensive player of the year for a third consecutive season.
Chattanooga, which went 10-4 and 7-0 in the SoCon, were the overwhelming favorites to keep that success going in separate voting by league coaches and media released Wednesday at the conference's annual summer football gathering.
Russ Huesman led Chattanooga to a school record for victories and its first-ever NCAA playoff win. Jacob guided the offense, passing for 2,731 yards and 23 touchdowns last fall. Both hope to keep things going in their final year together.
''It's nice. It probably means we got some good players coming back and we've got a quarterback coming back,'' the elder Huesman said. ''That helps when they're picking who's first, second, third. It really doesn't mean much right now.''
The defending SoCon champions received seven of eight first-place votes from the football coaches, who are not permitted to pick their own team. Huesman voted for Samford, who was runner-up for the coaches.
Chattanooga received 29 of 30 first-place votes in media polling to outdistance Western Carolina in second place. It was the second consecutive summer the Mocs swept the top spot in both polls. Jacob Huesman's showing has certainly helped vault Chattanooga to the top.
Huesman led the NCAA by completing 68.5 percent of his passes. Huesman also rushed for 1,009 yards and 14 touchdowns last season. He rushed for a season high 153 yards and accounted for two touchdowns on the ground in Chattanooga's landmark, 35-14, win over Indiana State to reach the Football Championship Subdivision quarterfinals last year.
Jacob Huesman was at the Manning passing camp earlier this summer and is on the watch list for the Walter Payton Award, the FCS' Heisman Trophy.
It has been a gratifying ride so far for the Huesmans, who've enjoyed the extra time together at Chattanooga.
''I've been around him coaching for so long. That's his job and I want to help him succeed at that,'' Jacob Huesman said. ''To get to do that every day is a privilege.''
Russ Huesman cut his teeth on the defensive side of the ball and does not spend much time around his son's daily drills. When it's time for the head coach to step in, Jacob doesn't always listen, his father joked.
''Most of the time, if I say something to him, he doesn't pay attention to me out on the field anyway,'' Russ Huesman said with a smile. ''He'll kind of look at me and tell me to get over on the defensive side of the field.''
The father-son formula has worked so far and is expected to again this fall.
The rest of the league will try and slow that does and make a move to challenge the Mocs.
Conference commissioner John Iamarino said the league that's won more FCS titles than other schools had grown confident with powers like Appalachian State and Georgia Southern leading the way. But when those school moved to the Football Bowl Subdivision, it left the league seeking a different identity. Chattanooga was the league's only playoff participant, something that last happened in 2003.
''We've always been a leader in the FCS,'' Iamarino said. ''It's time to get back to that.''
After Samford in the coaches voting came Western Carolina in third, then Wofford, Furman, Mercer, Citadel and VMI. In the media voting, second-place Western Carolina was followed by Samford, Wofford, Furman, Mercer, Citadel and VMI.
Samford defensive lineman Michael Pierce was picked as the conference's defensive player of the year.