Pensacola, Florida
Saturday December 16th 2017

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Argonauts enter Gulf South Conference

By William Stagno

On Sept. 3, University of West Florida’s football team travels to Ave Maria University to play its first game. UWF is one of nine Division II football teams in the Gulf South Conference headquartered in Birmingham, Ala.

Inweekly recently caught up with the Assistant Gulf South Conference Commissioner, Michael Anderson, to discuss UWF’s chances for success.  Anderson was excited about UWF’s fielding a football team in the Gulf South Conference.

“It’s important to add members in this league that play football. It’s a challenge because there are not many universities that can add a football program because of financial issues,” he said.

“It’s great that the University of West Florida has joined our conference because they know how competitive we are and how we operate. We are excited to have them.”

The Gulf South Conference is not a widely known conference, but it is competitive. Its members are among some of the top teams in Division II football. The University of West Georgia, whose record was 12-2 last year, is ranked second nationally, and the University of North Alabama (9-3) ranked 15 in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Division II Coaches’ Poll.

Florida Tech, Valdosta State and Delta State also received votes in the poll.

UWF Argos face off against the two top teams in their last two weeks of the season. They play the North Alabama Lions on Nov. 5 in Florence, Ala.  The Argos end the season at home in Blue Wahoos Stadium against the West Georgia Wolves on Nov. 12.

The Gulf South Conference focuses more on conference play and the playoffs rather than bowl games like Division I football.

Anderson explained, “There have been bowl games in the past, but they just haven’t been that consistent. Bowl games depend on whether the team decides to go to a bowl game or contend in the playoffs.”

This being the Argonauts first year in the conference, they should be considered underdogs, but surprisingly they are not.

“They are picked seventh in the conference in the preseason poll, but I think they will be a lot better than that,” said Anderson. “I know they have put a lot of emphasis on making this year a special year.”

He believes that the preseason ranking should give the UWF team a lot of confidence. He told Inweekly, “They have a great coach, Pete Shinnick, who has built strong programs before, and most of their roster is compiled of walk-ons and players who have had little to no experience in football at all.”

Going forward Anderson believes they will be better than seventh. If that happens, it would be a very special season for the Argonauts.

The Argonauts are putting themselves in a conference that is challenging and where every team has a goal to make it to the playoffs and fight for a championship.

Anderson discussed the Argos’ competition.

“Traditionally North Alabama, they won three straight national titles in the 90′s. Valdosta State has won two national championships in the past 10 years. Delta State goes to the playoffs just about every year. West Georgia is the newcomer coming in recently and winning a couple of titles and going far in the playoffs the last couple of years.”

He added, “The success is spread around a lot, which is good for the conference and adds more competition.”

The University of West Florida Argos opens its season playing away at Ave Maria University, a small Catholic university outside of Naples, Fla., on Saturday at 11 a.m. The game will be broadcast live on WPNN 103.7 FM & 790 AM.

University of West Florida  2016 Football Schedule
9/3  Noon    Ave Maria    Away
9/10 6 p.m.    Missouri S&T  Home
9/17 6 p.m.    Chowan   Away
9/24 7 p.m.     Valdosta State   Away
10/1 6 p.m.     Florida Tech  Home
10/8  2 p.m.    Mississippi College Away
10/15 2 p.m.    Delta State  Away
10/22 Noon    Shorter Home
10/29  Noon   West Alabama Home
11/5  Noon     North Alabama Away
11/12 Noon    West Georgia Home