Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The coaches were motioning toward Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo at Ohio Valley Conference media day last month.
You might say that Garoppolo's ability as a Walter Payton Award finalist - he ranked second in the FCS in passing yards last year - was the reason.
The point the coaches were making about Garoppolo, though, was that EIU, the defending conference champion, had a veteran quarterback returning this year. Many of the coaches could not make the same claim.
The year of the QB is over for the so-called Offensive Valley Conference, the highest-scoring conference in the FCS last season.
Among the nine teams, only EIU and Southeast Missouri State with Scott Lathrop are sure they will return their full-time quarterback from last season.
Darian Stone impressed, though, when he started the final four games at Tennessee Tech, so he gives the Golden Eagles continuity. Tennessee State, which has championship aspirations, is anxiously awaiting word on two-year starter Michael German's future status after he received an indefinite suspension this offseason.
The uncertainty under center could make for another wild season in the OVC, or it can give Eastern Illinois a huge advantage.
It's a conference that has a chip on its shoulder, having had three 8-3 teams (Eastern Kentucky, Tennessee State and UT Martin) denied at-large bids to the FCS playoffs last year.
It's also a conference that hasn't had an FCS playoff win since 2000.
Following is a team-by-team breakdown of the 2013 Ohio Valley Conference race.
The Sports Network's predicted order of finish:
1. Eastern Illinois
2. Tennessee State
3. Eastern Kentucky
4. Jacksonville State
5. UT Martin
6. Southeast Missouri State
7. Tennessee Tech
8. Murray State
9. Austin Peay