PARK CITY — With 15 starters returning from a strong 2007 finish, Weber State appears poised for a breakout season in Big Sky Conference football this year.

The preseason voters don't seem to agree.

The Wildcats were selected to finish fifth in the nine-team league in both the coaches and media preseason conference polls. The conference released the polls at its annual Big Sky Kickoff in Park City on Tuesday.

Big Sky powerhouse Montana, winners of 21 consecutive conference games and two straight outright Big Sky championships, was again picked first in both polls. Eastern Washington, which is actually ranked higher than Montana in two national polls, was picked second in both conference preseason polls.

Weber State coach Ron McBride said he isn't concerned with where his team was picked. He just took it as a sign that his program needs to earn more respect.

"I don't ever worry about that (the preseason polls)," McBride said. "What does it tell you? It tells you that people's attitude is you're a middle-of-the-road football team. So you got to do something to change that. Until you do something to change it, that's what you're going to be labeled as — a middle-of-the-road football team."

The Wildcats are planning on changing their mediocre perception, and are seemingly well-equipped to do so. McBride, however, doesn't want to hear talk or make plans. He wants to see results.

"The only way to change that (the mediocre perception) is on the field," he said. "You can't change it by talking about it. You got to beat the people you got to beat and earn your respect. Until you prove it, you have to sit there and take your lumps (in the polls)."


Team (First-place votes) ... Points

1. Montana (7) ... 63

2. Eastern Washington (1) ... 52

3. Northern Arizona (1) ... 50

4. Montana State ... 40

5. Weber State ... 38

6. Portland State ... 30

7. Sacramento State ... 27

8. Idaho State ... 15

9. Northern Colorado ... 9


Team (First-place votes) ... Points

1. Montana (23) ... 361

2. Eastern Washington (19) ... 350

3. Montana State ... 254

4. Northern Arizona (1) ... 248

5. Weber State ... 229

6. Portland State ... 194

7. Idaho State ... 124

8. Sacramento State ... 113

9. Northern Colorado ... 65