Randy Smith: A Huge Weekend For UTC

Friday, November 8, 2013 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith

This Saturday the Chattanooga Mocs will face Wofford in their final home game of the season. UTC will play at Samford next week and close the regular season in two weeks when they play at top-ranked Alabama. For the past 28 years, this usually meant that fans would get ready for basketball season, and while the UTC faithful are excited about their hoops again, they are also still very excited about the fortunes that could lie ahead for the football squad.

The Mocs are currently 7-2 overall with five straight wins. They are also 5-1 in Southern Conference play and a win over Wofford on Saturday afternoon would give them something they haven’t had since 1984: at least a share of the SoCon Championship.

The game which kicks off at 2 p.m. is just the second match-up of ranked teams in the history of the stadium. (Wofford ranked #15; UTC ranked 24th) It’s being called the biggest regular season game in the 16-year history of Finley Stadium-Davenport Field, and, if Chattanooga doesn’t fill every seat, there should be an investigation.

The Mocs control their own destiny in the final three weeks of the season. If they win both their final two SoCon games, they finish 7-1 and outright league champs. They would also make the NCAA FCS Playoffs, for the first time since 1984. As of today, there are four teams still alive in the Southern Conference: the Mocs are in first place at 5-1, with Wofford and Samford tied for second with records of 4-1, and Furman is still alive with a mark of 3-2.

The Mocs also have seven wins for the first time since 1997, the year Finley Stadium opened. The last time they won as many as eight games was 1980 when current Coach Russ Huesman was a junior defensive back. In other words, this has been the best football season for the Mocs in a long, long time.

Some UTC fans have been so used to less than mediocre seasons that they seemed to be surprised when they discover the Mocs are in first place this late in the year. I hope they haven’t already made plans to be elsewhere this Saturday. The Mocs need them to be at Finley Stadium.

The UTC program has come a long way in the five seasons under Russ Huesman. They have recruited better, coached better and his teams have played better. After four pretty good seasons, it appears that the Mocs have finally turned the corner. Now, I don’t want to put any more pressure on Coach Huesman or his team, but it’s time to make a big statement about just where this program is. They need to win against Wofford, and they need to win at Samford next week. They don’t need to back into a league championship. UTC should be the only name on the trophy in 2013.

There will always be a few nay-sayers that will say they backed into it anyway because perennial champs Georgia Southern and Appalachian State weren’t eligible for the title because they are moving up to the FBS division next year. But the Mocs beat App State and lost a heartbreaker at Georgia Southern for their only league loss.

The Mocs need you at the stadium Saturday. They need all the support you can possibly give them. Wear your gold and cheer as loudly as you can. Let’s make Finley Stadium a real home field advantage for the home team. After all, Coach Huesman’s Mocs have made football a lot of fun again.


rsmithsports@comcast.net

---

Randy Smith has been covering sports in Tennessee for the last 43 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has continued his broadcasting career as a free-lance play-by-play announcer. He is also an author and is a media concepts teacher at Brainerd High School in Chattanooga. He is also the Head Softball Coach at Brainerd. 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 11 years. He was the first television broadcaster to ever be elected to the "Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame", in 2003. Randy and his wife, Shelia, reside in Hixson. They have two married children (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith). They also have three grandchildren (Coleman, Boone, and DellaMae).


NFL Punt, Pass & Kick Competition To Be Held Oct. 16

The NFL Punt, Pass & Kick Competition will be held  Sunday, Oct. 16. Registration and warm up will be at  12:30 p.m. and c ompetition starts at  2 p.m. at  McCallie School. Boys and girls will compete separately. This is for ages  6/7, 8/9, 10/11, 12/13 and 14/15, and the a ge group is determined as of  12/31/2016. Winners ... (click for more)

Randy Smith: SEC Picks Week Five

If there was ever a game that could have been called " A Tale of Two Halves", last week's Florida at Tennessee game would be it. The Gators dominated the first half, leading 21-3 at the break, while the Vols then scored 38 straight unanswered points to post a 38-28 win. That win for the Volunteers snapped an eleven game losing streak to the Gators, and started a string of four crucial ... (click for more)

Boyd Questions Effectiveness Of Read 20 Program; Coppinger Defends It

County Commissioner Tim Boyd said he questions the effectiveness of the Read 20 pre-K literacy program and wants the director to come before the County Commission to answer questions.   County Mayor Jim Coppinger defended the program, noting that it was the creation of former County Mayor Claude Ramsey.   Commissioner Boyd said the low literacy level hearing ... (click for more)

Corker Says Without Budget Reform, Washington Is “Laying A Huge Burden On Future Generations”

In remarks on the Senate floor  on Wednesday , Senator Bob Corker joined a number of colleagues to discuss the broken federal budget process.   “The processes that we have in place make it impossible for us to really deal with our country’s fiscal issues,” said Senator Corker. “Today is the perfect example of that: we pass a continuing resolution ... (click for more)

Jimmy Templeton Will Be Missed At The City Yards

If only we had known about the Chattanooga City Council's planned retirement send off for Jimmy Templeton of Public Works, the room would have been filled to overflowing with his friends and admirers - including me.   I have had the honor of knowing and working with Jimmy since the 1970's (and also knew his father "Big Jim").  Jimmy was a strong right hand for whoever ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Vin Scully’s Last Time

It is said that the opening paragraph of my favorite ode to baseball should be the centerpiece for the canon of sports literature. It was written by former commissioner Bart Giamatti in "The Green Fields of the Mind,” a most marvelous essay to the last day of the regular season in the major leagues. “It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in ... (click for more)