Softball picked fifth in preseason poll

With the season’s firstpitch 17 days away, theUSF softball team may already have a chipon its shoulder.

The Big East announcedthe results of its preseasoncoaches poll Monday, withthe Bulls picked to finish

fifth in the 13-team league. DePaul, Syracuse, Notre Dameand Louisville were allchosen to finish above the

Bulls this season. USF finished fourth in theleague last season but helda share of the lead wellinto the final month of theregular season.

DePaul was named as thepreseason favorite, despiteactually having less first-placevotes (3) than runner-up

Syracuse (4). The FightingIrish picked up three votes,Louisville another two andUSF earned the last vote. It marks the first timesince 2006, when theleague adopted its currentmembership, that fiveteams have received afirst-place vote.

The Bulls open their seasonFeb. 10 against Maine andbegin Big East playMarch 24, with a homeseries against Rutgers.

JU hires Collier

One of the mostaccomplished players inUSF volleyball history isnow a Division I head coach.

Michelle Collier, whoplayed for USF from 1998 to2002, was named the eighth head coach atJacksonville University onMonday.

Collier is still USF’s all-time leader in kills (2,729) and digs (1,747) and is second inservice aces (257). Collier’skill tally is fifth-best inNCAA history and, in 2004, she was namedConference USA “Player ofthe Decade.”

She served on USF’scoaching staff from2008-09 before departingfor a two-year stint as an assistant coach at SouthCarolina.

“I am looking forward toworking with a great group of girls and turning thisprogram around and winningsome championships,” Colliersaid to “I ammeeting the girls Mondayand am excited to meetwith them, talk to them andget them fired up for us toget ready.”

Navy to join Big East?

Reports surfaced Monday that the United States NavalAcademy is prepared toannounce it will join the Big East as a football-onlymember in 2015.

The Big East recentlyfinished a realignmentfollowing the loss ofPittsburgh and Syracuse to theAtlantic Coast Conference,as well as West Virginiaand future-member TexasChristian to the Big 12.

In response, the BigEast added Boise State and San Diego State asfootball-only members, as well as Houston, SouthernMethodist and Central Florida in all sports. All three service academies – Army, Navy and Air Force – were rumored to be considering moves to the conference, but noneoriginally materialized.

Big East commissioner John Marinatto has repeatedlystated his desire to have12 football teams inthe conference, which wouldallow it to starta championship game -potentially played at Yankee Stadium in New York City.