MIAA football coaches believe Hope will be the team to beat this fall, but the media sees it differently.

The MIAA held its annual Press Day on Thursday, August 7 in Kalamazoo. A highlight of the event was the announcement of a pre-season poll representing the opinions of MIAA head coaches and media attending the event.

The poll of coaches pegged the Flying Dutchmen as the pre-season favorite, but the opinion of the media is that Hope will finish fourth. Together, the Flying Dutchmen were ranked third in the seven-team field.

For the first time in more than quarter of a century, the Olivet Comets are the pre-season favorite.

In a close vote, Olivet edged defending champion Alma by a single point. The Comets were last picked for first place in 1975. The pre-season poll has not correctly selected the utlimate champion since 1996 and over 35 years has been exactly right only 14 times. A year ago Hope was the pre-season pick, but the Flying Dutchmen ended in a tie for second place.

The combined poll (coaches and media) had Olivet with 54 points, followed by Alma 55, Hope 57, Albion 61, Adrian 78, Kalamazoo 82, and Wisconsin Lutheran 129. Six of the seven MIAA teams received a first place vote -- Olivet and Alma six each, Hope three, Adrian and Albion two each, and Kalamazoo one.

The poll of head coaches pegged Hope as the pre-season favorite with 12 points, followed by Alma 14, Olivet 15, Adrian 23, Kalamazoo 32 and Wisconsin Lutheran 33.

The poll of the media placed Olivet in first with 39 votes followed by Alma 41, Albion 43, Hope 45, Kalamazoo 50, Adrian 55, and Wisconsin Lutheran 90.

The Flying Dutchmen begin practice for their 93rd season on Monday, Aug. 18. The season opener is Saturday, Sept. 6 at Wooster, Ohio.