It's the first week of June....we're still three months away from kickoff, but real college football fans, especially ones here in the south are already thinking about football season. I've been very busy the last few days,(at the beach, soaking in rays, drinking adult beverages, and reading every pre-season football magazine I can get my hands on), so I can properly inform my readers about everything they need to know for the fall of 2012. Here goes:
Important dates to circle in the SEC this fall.
Aug. 31: The opening weekend of the season and perhaps the most important weekend of the season for Derek Dooley's Tennessee Volunteers. The Vols open on Friday at the Georgia Dome against North Carolina State. If the Vols can get a win over the Wolfpack, they will likely be 2-0 when the hated Florida Gators invade Knoxville on September 15th. Dooley's Vols must win at least 7 games this season to avoid a third coaching change since 2008. The Vols should be a better team, but there are still a lot of questions to be answered. Hopefully, many of those questions will be addressed against the Wolfpack. (The Vols Friday night opener will be their first Friday game since 1939, when they played......North Carolina State.)
Sept. 8: The day that Texas A&M and Missouri each play their first games as members of the SEC. The Aggies and the Tigers are both at home that day, the Aggies hosting Florida and the Tigers hosting Georgia. It seems we will know early on, if these two newcomers can cut it in the nations' best conference.
Sept. 15: Alabama at Arkansas. If Bobby Petrino hadn't lost his mind over that younger woman in Fayetteville, this game would have much more marquee value. Still, the Hogs are talented and who knows how good they'll be. By the way, the Razorbacks play both Alabama and LSU at home this season.
Oct. 6: Georgia at South Carolina. This game usually is played much earlier in the year. Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier quipped this spring, "I'd rather keep this game where we've been playin' it. Coach Richt always has a few starters he's suspended early in the year, so now it looks like they'll all be back." This game will go a long way to determining the SEC East champion, though Georgia lost last year and still managed to win the division.
Nov. 3: Alabama at LSU. These two teams met twice last season, the regular season battle being a defensive classic, while the BCS championship game was nothing more than a good southern 'Bama butt-whippin'. The 2012 meeting between these two SEC West powers could be the best match up of the three.
Nov. 24: LSU at Arkansas. This game has importance no matter who won the earlier mentioned Alabama at Arkansas contest. Unless the Hogs have thrown in the towel, the winner of this game could go to the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta. The stakes are much higher now, than they could be in November.
Some other SEC tidbits:
Best coaches' quote so far: " After all, there are only three conferences in football that matter: The NFC, the AFC and the SEC." (Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin)
Spurrier Milestone: If the Gamecocks can beat Vanderbilt in Nashville in their season opener, then beat East Carolina in game two, Coach Steve Spurrier can get career win number 200 against UAB in week three. His career mark going into the 2012 campaign in 197-75-2.
Wide Receiver U: Though there are a couple of big IFS, like, IF Justin Hunter can bounce back from his torn acl against Florida last year and stay healthy in 2012, and IF Da'Rick Rogers can stay out of Derek Dooley's dog house, "Wide Receiver U" will be back. The Vols also added juco wide out Cordarrelle Patterson who folks say is the "real deal". Again keeping everyone healthy, including quarterback Tyler Bray, is a big key.
Contact Randy Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org
Randy Smith has been covering sports in Tennessee for the last 42 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has continued his broadcasting career as a free-lance play-by-play announcer, author and is also a media concepts teacher at Red Bank High School in Chattanooga. He is currently teaching an "Intro To Sportscasting" class at Red Bank, the only class of its type in Tennessee. Randy Smith's career has included a 17-year stint as scoreboard host and pre-game talk show host on the widely regarded "Vol Network". He has also done play by play of more than 500 college football, basketball, baseball and softball games on ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports, CSS and Tennessee Pay Per View telecasts. He was selected as "Tennessee's Best Sports Talk Show Host" in 1998 by the Associated Press. He has won other major awards including, "Best Sports Story" in Tennessee and his "Friday Night Football" shows on WRCB-TV twice won "Best Sports Talk Show In Tennessee" awards. He has also been the host of "Inside Lee University Basketball" on CSS for the past 10 years. Randy and his wife, Shelia, reside in Hixson. They have two married children (Christi and Chris Perry Davey and Alison Smith). They also have one grandchild (Coleman).