College Fanz Network has put out its NAIA preseason top 25 for football, which, of course, puts all other NAIA top 25s to shame. They do their homework up there in Grand Island, Nebraska, and put three teams from the KCAC in the top 25, and all in a row at that. Friends, winners of three of the last four league titles, checks in at No. 14. Last year’s champion Ottawa is at No. 15 and the league’s other playoff team from a year ago, McPherson, is at No. 16.
And that’s pretty much perfect placing. The KCAC gained a little bit of steam last season with Ottawa’s run in the postseason and a respectable showing from McPherson in a first-round loss. The Braves actually gave Lindenwood, the eventual runner-up, a pretty good fight which showed to me they were definitely one of the top 10 teams in the country. And Friends, incredibly, was almost the third team to make the playoffs out of the KCAC. With the Sports Regulation Initiative going into effect this offseason and KCAC teams able to play 11 games in 2011 after a full spring game I think this is going to be one of the more interesting seasons in the history of the league as far as having a template to see what the improvement is from this year to next.
Ottawa’s biggest question mark this year, by far, will be who replaces All-American Ethan Haller at quarterback. For McPherson, it’s going to be seeing how the team plays without the architect of their playoff run in coach Brian Ward, who took a job at North Dakota State. For Friends, it’s just whether or not they can get back on top after winning three straight titles from 2006-2008.
We’ll get it all figured out a month from this coming Tuesday at KCAC Media Day in Salina.