1. GROWTH SPURT
After having eight football-playing schools in 2013, the Southland Conference will welcome three new members this fall. Houston Baptist will be eligible for SLC honors this season, but Abilene Christian and Incarnate Word will have to wait until at least 2017 to be fully eligible. All 11 schools will play eight league games — one more than last season — before going to a nine-game conference slate in 2015.
2. RING ME
Southeastern Louisiana coach Ron Roberts, quarterback Bryan Bennett and linebacker Isiah Corbett came to media day sporting the spoils from the 2013 championship season. All three wore huge rings commemorating the school’s first SLC title since football returned in 2003. The rings, white gold with a large cluster of diamonds and the “S” logo in green and gold, have the team’s mantra, “Together We Stand,” etched on one side.
3. LOOKING UP
After winning just one game each in 2011 and 2012, Nicholls State doubled that two-year total with four victories last fall. Fifth-year coach Charlie Stubbs is hopeful the trend continues and expects his team to be more competitive. “We’ve got talent,” he said. “Midseason or later, there will be a lot of people wondering where Nicholls got this young man from because I’ve got players. … They just haven’t stepped on the field yet.”
4. RICKY THE COACH
Incarnate Word coach Larry Kennan added 1998 Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams to his staff as running backs coach last season — which raised some eyebrows. Kennan said it was an easy hire because Williams is a different man and is an introvert — like himself. “He’s not feeling the pressure he did with the Saints,” Kennan said. “He had some demons going on, but doesn’t any more … he’s a wonderful example for our guys.”