ECU picked to finish last in AAC East Division

Coach Scottie Montgomery's team is looking to improve on back-to-back 3-9 seasons

James Guillory—USA Today Sports
ECU coach Scottie Montgomery has predicted his team will qualify for a bowl this season (James Guillory/USAToday Sports)

  Coach Scottie Montgomery has predicted that his East Carolina football team will qualify for a bowl this season.

  Apparently, members of the media covering the American Athletic Conference aren’t as optimistic. They voted the Pirates to finish sixth in the six-team East Division in the league’s preseason poll that was released Tuesday.

  ECU earned a total of 41 points in the balloting to finish 10 points behind fifth place UConn. Defending champion Central Florida is the overwhelming choice to win the division again, picking up 25 of 30 first place votes and 175 points to easily outdistance South Florida (five first place votes, 140 points), Temple (132) and Cincinnati (91).

  UCF was also the pick to win the overall AAC title with 19 of a possible 30 votes.

  ECU returns 12 of 22 positional starters and four on special teams as it looks to improve on back-to-back 3-9 seasons under Montgomery. Compounding the Pirates’ problems is a difficult schedule that includes crossover divisional games against Memphis and Houston — teams that were picked to finish 1-2 in the West Division.

  Memphis, which won the West a year ago, is again the preseason favorite after receiving 23 first place votes and 171 points. Houston was second with 145 points and four first place votes, while Navy (129), SMU (72), Tulane (68) and Tulsa rounding out the poll.

  The AAC championship game will be played Saturday, Dec. 1 at the home site of the division champion with the best conference record.

2018 AAC PRESEASON FOOTBALL MEDIA POLL

American Championship

Team (Points)

UCF (19)

Memphis (7)

USF (3)

Houston (1)

East Division

Team (1st Place Votes) – Points

  1. UCF (25) – 175
  2. USF (5) – 140
  3. Temple – 132
  4. Cincinnati – 91
  5. Connecticut – 51
  6. ECU – 41

West Division

Team (1st Place Votes) – Points

  1. Memphis (23) – 171
  2. Houston (4) – 146
  3. Navy (3) – 129
  4. SMU – 72
  5. Tulane – 68
  6. Tulsa – 44