ASUN football has arrived!
Sure, it’s not “technically” the first season of ASUN football but it is the first season of a full schedule when a conference champion will be determined. This is a season many have anticipated and it’s finally here!
Alliance with WAC continues
What most knew would be a truly special inaugural season to compete for the first ASUN football championship lost a bit of luster when Jacksonville State’s acceptance to C-USA nullified their eligibility for the playoffs and, thus, the conference’s Automatic Qualifier for the postseason tournament.
That necessitated the need to continue the alliance with the Western Athletic Conference, also in a similar situation, to continue an alliance for one AQ berth into the playoffs. Since the announcement, however, two schools have unexpectedly changed their minds leaving the conference with just three schools (Abeline Christian, Southern Utah, and Stephen F. Austin) eligible for the 2022 playoffs.
Of note, Jacksonville State is eligible for the ASUN title while Sam Houston State in the WAC, also transitioning to C-USA, is not eligible for the WAC title this season.
The conferences have yet to announce any criteria for selection of which team will earn the AQ for the FCS Playoff field.
ASUN welcomes Austin Peay
On July 1, 2022, the ASUN Conference officially welcomed Austin Peay State University from the Ohio Valley Conference. The Governors joined their former OVC foes Eastern Kentucky and Jacksonville State who both moved to the ASUN in 2021. APSU looks to rekindle old rivalries with EKU and JSU while competing in several other markets including Florida on the East Coast.
Media Day in Atlanta
On July 22, 2022, the conference held a football Media Day in Atlanta.
As coaches and players spoke throughout the day, it was hard not to want the next few weeks to fly by and begin the season immediately! But, as we come back to reality, it was fun to hear about expectations for this upcoming campaign for each of the six ASUN football programs.
After a brief introduction by ASUN staff, APSU’s Scotty Walden displayed his youthful passion for football and being in a new league. He gave a spirited talk about his team and his program’s style of play. When UCA’s Nathan Brown took the podium, he recognized the tragic death of a Bears player and their dedication of this season to him. Brown discussed the expectations of UCA Football and that 2021 didn’t meet those expectations.
EKU’s Walt Wells was next up to speak and he discussed his multiple stops with the Colonels program and highlighted the upgrades to facilities at the school. JSU’s Rich Rodriguez began by recognizing the success of the Gamecocks program before his arrival and his quest to continue that excellence now that he’s at the helm. He also took a moment to mention the passing of veteran coach, Calvin Magee, and what he meant to the sport.
Next at the podium was KSU’s Brian Bohannon and his excitement was evident about his program and this upcoming season. He emphasized the importance of this inaugural season of ASUN football and all of the “firsts” that will happen this year because of it. UNA’s Chris Willis wrapped up the comments from coaches by first giving a shout-out to this school’s fan base. He also expressed excitement about the Lions completing the transition from D2 and being fully eligible as an FCS program.
The ASUN Conference also announced the results of the coaches’ poll along with several preseason awards and honors including the All-Conference team.
As expected, (1) Kennesaw State topped the poll followed by a tie for second between (2) Central Arkansas and (2) Eastern Kentucky. The remaining three spots included (4) Jacksonville State, (5) Austin Peay, and (6) North Alabama.
The conference’s top two awards went to Kennesaw State’s Xavier Shepherd (Offensive POTY) and Eastern Kentucky’s Matthew Jackson (Defensive POTY). UNA had the most selections on the All-ASUN team and won the fan vote for Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year (Parker Driggers and Kyree Fields).
The 2⃣0⃣2⃣2⃣ Preseason #ASUN_Football Offensive & Defensive Players of the Year… @kennesawstfb's Xavier Shepherd and @EKUFootball's Matthew Jackson 🔽🏈👀— ASUN Football🏈 (@ASUN_Football) July 22, 2022
🔗 | https://t.co/OMfTHdrVF7#ASUNBuilt | #OneKS 🦉 | #GoBigE pic.twitter.com/BJRchuCftd
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