I don't know when I have ever looked forward to the start of the college football season any more than this year. I would imagine it's the excitement of the first-ever college football playoff when the regular season concludes that has peaked my excitement. So as we are less than two weeks away from the opening weekend of the season, here are a few tidbits to chew on for the final few days.
Ohio State received some bad news as wire reports are saying that quarterback Braxton Miller is out for the year with a shoulder injury. This will seriously hamper Coach Urban Meyer's run to a Big Ten and a national title if he has to replace his quarterback.
When the Associated Press released its annual pre-season poll this week, a grand total of eight SEC teams were represented, which is a new record. In fact, five of the seven teams from the SEC West are ranked among the nation's top 25 teams. For second ranked Alabama, it's the sixth straight year the Crimson Tide has been ranked in the top five, and 'Bama is ranked in the top ten for fifty-one straight weeks.
Auburn is next followed by ninth ranked South Carolina, 12th ranked Georgia and 13th ranked LSU. This marks the 14th straight year the Bengal Tigers have been tabbed in the top 25 pre-season poll. Next is Ole Miss at number 18, while Texas A&M is ranked 21st and defending SEC East champ Missouri is number 24.
Being ranked number one in the pre-season poll could be considered the "kiss of death" in college football. Rarely does the team ranked at the top when it all starts finish that way. (Alabama last year for instance) The only thing really helping defending champ Florida State is an easier schedule than most other contenders. The toughest games on the Seminoles' schedule are Clemson and Notre Dame, with both games being played in Tallahassee.
One internet service is featuring a story on the biggest NFL busts for Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks. The Florida Gators seem to be in control of that category with former Gators Steve Spurrier, Danny Weurfel, and Tim Tebow all being featured. Spurrier so far had the best NFL career, which isn't saying a whole lot.
Tennessee head coach Butch Jones named senior Justin Worley to start at quarterback. His numbers aren't great but his experience is better than both Nathan Peterman and Joshua Dobbs. Worley has enough ability to keep the Vols from getting beat, which could be enough for Coach Jones and his staff. It also appears that with the return of Alton "Pig" Howard, the Vols' receiving corp could be one of the team's strong points. It's really now or never for Worley in 2014. The South Carolina native started the Vols' first seven games in 2013 before being injured. He led U.T. to an upset of South Carolina, and almost a win in overtime over Georgia before getting hurt. Worley said this week that he is confident if he had not been injured, the Vols would have won at least six games and gone to a bowl game. Worley has thrown for eleven touchdowns and thirteen interceptions in his Tennessee career.
By far and away, the biggest SEC games to open the season are Texas A&M at South Carolina and Clemson at Georgia. The pressure is on all four teams to post a win on opening day, but it's especially big for the Aggies and Gamecocks. The loser also loses a lot of ground quickly in the SEC divisional standings.
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 four grandchildren, Coleman, Boone, DellaMae and CoraLee.
To contact Randy: firstname.lastname@example.org