ST. PAUL -- Greenville College took the cake in the 2010 Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) Preseason Coaches' Poll, earning 58 points and five first place votes in the first preseason ballot to include all nine conference teams in one division. Greenville bested second place-Martin Luther College in the poll. Greenville and Martin Luther team won their respective division in the two-division conference in 2009. In 2010, the divisions will be eliminated and all nine UMAC teams will be competing for one conference championship. A year later in 2011, all nine teams - plus Presentation College - will compete for an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Greenville will look to defend their 2009 divisional crown with new teammates, a new field and a new head coach. Ordell Walker, who was an assistant coach with the Panthers program for seven years before being promoted to head coach after last season, will take the team's reigns in 2010. Walker has high expectations for his team on the upswing. Greenville's offense starts the upcoming season with the core of its 2009 team in place. The Panthers return seven starters from an offense that averaged over 25 points and 175 yards rushing per game a year ago. Greenville's running game will again be the team's offensive strength this season, as the front line has four returning starters, including the 2009 UMAC South Lineman of the Year in Tim Burroughs. UMAC South Co-Offensive Player of the Year Anthony Ambers, the team's featured back, is expected to have a strong season. The Greenville defense also comes into the 2010 season with high expectations despite only returning five starters and losing the 2009 UMAC South Defensive Player of the Year and three first team UMAC South All-Conference defensive linemen.
All nine UMAC schools will play seven conference games in 2010 with the exception of Greenville College, who will play six league contests due to non-conference agreements that were already in place before the UMAC took its new shape last year. With the addition of Presentation and moving to a complete round-robin schedule, every UMAC team will play nine conference games in 2011, the first year that the league champion will earn a spot in the NCAA playoffs.
2010 UMAC Preseason Coaches' Poll
1. 58 Points - Greenville College (5 First Place Votes)
2. 51 Points - Martin Luther College
3. 48 Points - Northwestern College
4. 46 Points - Westminster College (3)
5. 34 Points - Crown College (1)
6. 33 Points - College of St. Scholastica
7. 26 Points - Eureka College
T-8. 14 Points - MacMurray College
T-8. 14 Points - University of Minnesota-Morris