College football gets started in our state Saturday with Georgia Tech playing host to Samford in Atlanta. That's Samford with no T and an M, not an N, before the F. Samford is a Division I-AA school in Birmingham, not an academic and athletic machine from California. It's so unheard of that even the spell-checker on my computer underlines it as not being on file.
Samford opened their season last week with a 34-20 win over Division II West Alabama. Samford's record in 2003 was 7-4 while West Alabama went 2-9 last year. It should be a cakewalk for Tech.
If the Yellow Jackets were playing Georgia Southern, another I-AA program, it would be a more logical matchup. Southern can't play Tech Saturday because they'll be in Athens to battle the Georgia Bulldogs. This is Georgia's third, and I hope last, obligatory meeting with the Eagles since 1992. For whatever reason, Georgia Tech has never managed to play Georgia Southern. I guess they prefer supporting out-of-state I-AA schools like Stanford ... uh, I mean Samford.
Southern thought they had a chance to beat the Bulldogs in previous meetings but lost by scores of 34-7 and 29-7. This time they know they don't have a chance, so their fans are selling tickets to the tune of $75-$100 each. Southern missed the playoffs last year for the first time in forever, and Coach Mike Sewak is under the gun. Hopefully, Eagle fans won't hold this game against him.
I have two degrees from Georgia Southern and only one from UGA, but that one was my undergraduate prize, the one a Techie might say was thrown in my car window. I cut my teeth in Athens so I'm pulling for the Dogs. There is nothing to be gained for a program that aspires to be SEC and national champion to be playing Georgia Southern or any other I-AA school. I'm sure coaches and fans of both schools will be glad when it is over.
I sent out inquiries to colleges where former Thomson High players are on rosters. The Sports Information Departments of Middle Tennessee State and Louisville University even replied. MTSU is now sending me a daily update on the Blue Raiders where DeMarco McNair is a cornerback.
Head coach Andy McCollum said: "We have DeMarco working at cornerback, and he is doing great for us right now. He is a great athlete with good speed, quickness, and raw ability for the position. A great runningback in high school, DeMarco is learning the position, but we like the progress he is making and expect to see him on the field this season."
Rocco Gasparro, the SID at the University of Louisville responded that former THS quarterback Deon Palmer is a walk-on with the Cardinals. He is listed as a cornerback but will have to sit out this season as a transfer after red-shirting at Georgia Southern last year.
Meanwhile, Casper and Jasper Brinkley, Ricky Hill and Montrell Neal all started for Georgia Military College last Saturday. The Bulldogs lost at Kilgore, Texas Junior College 16-7.
Good luck to your favorite college team this season. Don't forget too that tailgating is only a part of what happens on Saturdays. It's fun but the part that really counts is the scoreboard. There seems to be a lot of unattached fans more interested in the pre-game social. My advice: get attached.