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Columbia, SC (WLTX) --- The annual trip to Spartanburg for the coaches in the Southern Conference saw a different flavor to the league after the departure of Georgia Southern and Appalachian State.

VMI, Mercer and East Tennessee State are the newest additions, although ETSU won't compete for the title until next season.

The head coaches for VMI and Mercer are no stranger to the So-Con. Mercer's Bobby Lamb is a former player and head coach at Furman, while Sparky Woods was at Appalachian State before he took the reigns at USC.

Woods is entering his seventh season with the Keydets. VMI was in the So-Con before departing in 2003. Now the program returns and Woods feels the program is more prepared now for the So-Con grind than it was in 2003.

The Citadel enters 2014 with a new head coach in Mike Houston who comes to the Bulldogs from Lenoir Rhyne.

Last season, Houston led L-R to the NCAA Division II national championship game. Now he takes over the program for Kevin Higgins who left to become the wide receivers coach at Wake Forest.

All three teams are not expected to contend for the conference title. The preseason poll as voted on by the coaches says Chattanooga will win the conference with defending So-Con champion Furman predicted to finish second. The Paladins and Samford ended the preseason poll tied for second.

Wofford has been picked fourth, followed by Western Carolina and The Citadel. Mercer and VMI finished in a tie for seventh in the voting.

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