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|Weatherbie sees balanced conference|
Having just come back from the annual Sun Belt Conference Media Days in New Orleans this past week, University of Louisiana-Monroe coach Charlie Weatherbie sees a lot of optimism in his team as the season begins in 2008.
"We've got a very equal group of teams," Weatherbie said. "In this conference we are picked third, but there are a half-dozen teams which can make it up for grabs."
Florida Atlantic is picked No. 1 in the conference and Troy is No. 2.
"We were the only team to beat Troy last season," Weatherbie said. "So that game could go either way."
ULM is picked third and Middle Tennessee is picked fourth.
Weatherbie especially liked the momentum from last season's team which saw them win six of their last nine games, and it easily could have been seven. The Warhawks also became bowl eligible for the first time since moving to Division 1A.
Weatherbie also likes the way coach Bob Leahy is handling recruiting locally.
"Leahy does the recruiting in this area and he's done a great job," Weatherbie said. "We like to get a lot of local players because that brings in the crowds. That gets more people in the stands."
Weatherbie is pleased with the way Cardis Jackson of Wossman and Craig James from Carroll. They have stepped up to the front as well as Frank Gooden from West Monroe. Weatherbie said LaGregory Sapp from Ouachita is another player who is really helping out.
The Warhawks get started early this season with a very strong non-conference schedule.
They open up at Auburn and then go to Little Rock to play the University of Arkansas the next week. The first home game is Saturday, Sept. 13 against Alabama A&M, then they travel to New Orleans to take on Tulane. The conference season starts after that, but late in the season the Warhawks will travel to Oxford to take on Ole Miss on Nov. 15.