The defending MIAA football champion Flying Dutchmen are again the team to beat.

The MIAA hosted its 37th Press Day Thursday, Aug. 5 at Olivet College. A highlight of the event was the announcement of the pre-season football poll representing the opinions of the league's coaches and media representatives in attendance.

Being the pre-season favorite might not be what Hope coach Dean Kreps would prefer given the recent history of the poll. Not since 1996 when Albion won the championship has the pre-season poll accurately picked the ultimate champion. The pre-season poll has been right just 13 out of 36 times. The last time Hope was the pre-season favorite and went on to win the championship was in 1987. A year ago Olivet was the pre-season favorite, but the Comets went winless in conference play to end in seventh place.

The combined poll (coaches and media) had Hope with 40 points, followed by Albion 60, Adrian 71, Alma 79, Olivet 127, Wisconsin Lutheran 140, Kalamazoo 148 and new league member Tri-State 171. Five of the eight MIAA teams received a first place vote -- Hope 11, Albion 5, Adrian and Alma 4 each, and Kalamazoo 1.

Albion had four first place votes in the poll of coaches followed by Hope with three and Alma one. Hope ended with 12 points, followed by Albion 13, Adrian 22, Alma 24, Olivet 28, Wisconsin Lutheran 35, Tri-State 44 and Kalamazoo 46.

In the poll of 17 media representatives, Hope received eight first place votes followed by Adrian 4, Alma 3, and Albion and Kalamazoo one each. Hope ended with 28 points, followed by Albion 47, Adrian 49, Alma 55, Olivet 99, Kalamazoo 102, Wisconsin Lutheran 105 and Tri-State 127.

The nation's oldest collegiate conference will be launching its 107th season of football this fall.