We are knee deep in summer vacation, which is fine and good, but I can’t help thinking about the start of the college football season. Though we are still 12 weeks away from the first kickoff, every fan, every coach, and every player is excited about what lies ahead. Every team is still unbeaten and as we creep closer to the beginning of the season, the trash-talking gets louder and more obnoxious.
With that in mind, here are a few tidbits from the college football world.
Former USC head coach Pete Carroll, who is now the head coach of the Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks of the NFL, stated this week that, had he known the NCAA sanctions against his Trojans were going to be so severe, he would have stayed at Southern Cal and fixed the problem. Those sanctions involved missing two bowl games, having the 2004 BCS Champion ship vacated, as well as all 12 of the Trojans’ wins in 2005. The sanctions stemmed from sports marketers giving money to running back Reggie Bush and his family. Who knew?
Over the winter, Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall gathered his receivers together for impromptu throwing workouts in an effort to improve the Tiger’s passing game. In 2013, Auburn threw fewer passes than all but seven other BCS teams, running the football on 71.9 percent of their offensive plays.
Everyone is wondering what Texas A&M will be like without Johnny Football. Well, the overall talent level isn’t going to drop far at all. The Aggies have recruited and signed 29 four- or five-star athletes in the last two seasons, with only four schools signing more. (Alabama, Ohio State, LSU and Notre Dame)
According to Tennessee head coach Butch Jones, the Volunteers’ 2013 schedule was the toughest in college football history. His second season isn’t going to be any easier at all. Oregon and Auburn are not on the schedule this fall, but they’ve been replaced by Oklahoma and Ole Miss. The Vols’ two opening games this year are Utah State and Arkansas State; certainly not a couple of cupcakes.
The SEC’s opening game this fall is a Thursday night contest in Columbia, South Carolina as Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks host Texas A&M. Both teams will have new quarterbacks as Johnny Manziel and Connor Shaw are gone. Both teams should be good but the unfortunate thing for the loser is - they will be a game down in the SEC standings before any other team in the league has played a game.
The Alabama at Tennessee game this October took on a bit of suspense when former Tennessee coach Lane Kiffen was hired by Nick Saban as the Crimson Tide’s offensive coordinator. Kiffen, easily the most hated man in Knoxville, should have plenty of police protection at the game on October 25th.
Will the Clemson Tigers be forced to win with defense this fall after losing so much offensive firepower to graduation and the NFL draft? Possibly. According to Athlon Sports, Clemson has the best defensive line in the ACC, with the #2 group of linebackers and the fourth best defensive backs. They could win a few low-scoring games, which is a big change for the last few teams coached by Dabo Swinney. Replacing Sammy Watkins and quarterback Tajh Boyd will be hard to do.
Tennessee has one first team All-SEC performer in linebacker A.J. Johnson, who skipped the NFL to return for his senior season. “Who would want to leave Tennessee early when you’ve got one year left.” His final goal is getting his college degree…….for his mother.
Randy Smith has been covering sports on radio, television and print for the past 45 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has written two books, and has continued to free-lance as a play-by-play announcer. He is currently teaching Broadcasting at Coahulla Creek High School near Dalton, Ga.
His career has included a 17-year stretch as host of the Kickoff Call In Show on the University of Tennessee’s prestigious Vol Network. He has been a member of the Vol Network staff for thirty years.
He has done play-by-play on ESPN, ESPN II, CSS, and Fox SportSouth, totaling more than 500 games, and served as a well-known sports anchor on Chattanooga Television for more than a quarter-century.
In 2003, he became the first television broadcaster to be inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame. Randy and his wife Shelia reside in Hixson. They have two married children, (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith.) They have three grandchildren, Coleman, Boone and DellaMae.
To contact Randy: firstname.lastname@example.org