WKU football aiming to prove voters wrong after fourth place preseason Sun Belt ranking

Elliott Pratt

The WKU football team isn’t settling for anything less than a Sun Belt Conference title this season under new head coach Bobby Petrino. In order to do that, they will have to prove the rest of the conference coach’s wrong who voted the Hilltoppers to finish fourth place in the league.

The conference coach’s believe the road to the Sun Belt will drive through Louisiana to either Lafayette or UL-Monroe. Both schools received 57 points in the poll, but Lafayette edged out the War Hawks 4-2 in first place votes.

Coach Petrino spoke with members of the media Monday morning at Sun Belt Media Day in New Orleans, La. and said the preseason schedule doesn’t cause concern for his team.

“We never worry too much about preseason rankings,” Petrino said. “We have a long season to play and our focus right now is really getting to camp and getting better every day and that we practice to prepare for the opener.”

WKU received 44 points in the poll and barely missed the third place nod to Troy, who earned 45.

Senior offensive lineman Luis Polanco represented the team at Media Day and said the team has a lot to prove with the early fourth place ranking.

“I think they are underestimating us a little bit,” Polanco said. “I think it makes me and I’m sure it makes my teammates a little hungrier to go out there and prove ourselves even more.”

Petrino said that while he doesn’t pay attention to the rankings himself it could serve as good motivating tool for his team. With this being WKU’s final year in the Sun Belt Conference before moving to Conference-USA, the team realizes it would be the best way to exit the league.

“Our goal is to win the conference,” Petrino said. “We feel like as we build this program we want to go to a bowl game every year and win the bowl game and then be conference champions.

“We have a great challenge ahead of us. There are some really good football teams in our conference and some really good coaches. It’ll be really exciting to see how it all plays out.”

Petrino’s 75-26 career college coaching record has come from much larger conferences, such as the former Big East (now known as the American Athletic Conference) with Louisville and Arkansas of the Southeastern Conference. Petrino said even in a smaller league like the Sun Belt, the pressure to win a championship is still the same.

“There is always pressure. The pressure you put on yourself, your players, the pressure the players put on themselves, and the pressure from the administration and fans is something I’ve always enjoyed,” Petrino said. “That’s one of the fun things about being a football coach is having high expectation and putting pressure on yourself to accomplish those expectations and getting your players to set high expectations and achieve them.”