Preseason football mags create hype for 2001

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 8, 2001

Sports Columnist

There’s only 78 days until football season in Pike County. Actually, high school football practice starts in 54 days, that’s less then two months away.

I know our school kids have just started their summer break, but believe you me, football season is just around the corner.

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Yes, you’re right; I can’t wait for football season to start. It’s my favorite time of the year.

Several of the football publications have hit the magazine racks and the so-called experts are picking who they think will win the national championship.

One very well known football publication has the Miami Hurricanes winning the national title. Yes, you’re right again, our own Troy State University Trojans will travel to the Orange Bowl to play Miami on Oct. 6.

The same magazine has Miami No. 1, Nebraska No. 4 and Mississippi State at No. 5. All three are on Troy State’s schedule.

Lindy’s has Florida winning the national championship with Miami coming in second and Florida State is sixth. Nebraska is No. 7 and Mississippi State is 13. Rounding out the top ten is No. 3 Texas, No. 4 Tennessee, Oklahoma is predicted to come in fifth, UCLA eighth, Georgia Tech ninth and the Mighty Ducks of Oregon at tenth.

Alabama, believe it or not, is a preseason No. 17. Auburn is not mentioned in Lindy’s Top 25.

If you look at the starters returning (15) and the skill players on offense, then Alabama should win 80 percent of its games this fall. Bama’s defense should be much better with all-star linebacker Saleem Rasheed leading the way. Lindy’s thinks the Crimson Tide has the best defensive front in the country coming back. The Tide’s defensive ends, Kenny King and Kendall Moorehead, remind Bama fans of Copeland and Curry, the two DE’s that dominated on the ’92 national title team. Jarrett Johnson, perhaps Bama’s steadiest defensive lineman, is also back.

Jim Tompkins’ linebackers at Mississippi State is rated the fifth best in the nation by Lindy’s. Tompkins, former head coach at Charles Henderson High School, was defensive coordinator at TSU for 10 years in the 70s.

Two coaches, Joe Paterno of Penn State (322 wins) and FSU’s Bobby Bowden (315) should pass Paul "Bear" Bryant on the NCAA Division 1-A all-time wins record.

The top candidates for the Heisman Trophy in 2001 are Northwestern’s Damien Anderson, Clemson quarterback Woody Dantzler, Miami quarterback Ken Dorsey and Indiana quarterback Antwaan Randle El. Nebraska’s Eric Crouch was seventh in the pre-Heisman voting.

In the SEC, Lindy’s said Florida wins the East, followed by Tennessee, and Mississippi State wins the West, followed by Alabama. Auburn is ranked fifth in the preseason SEC West.

I think Auburn is underrated even though they lost three top offensive players to the NFL. Three outstanding freshmen will come in and play right away for the Tigers. Freshman sensation Carnell Williams will make Tiger fans forget Rudy Johnson. Lemarcus Rowell, (6-4, 210 pounds with 4.5 speed), will be the best linebacker in Auburn history. The third impact freshman will be high school All-American Anthony Mix of Bay Minette. He’ll be better then Theodore’s Lawyer Tillman was at Auburn. At 6-5, 225 pounds and with blinding speed, the Tigers could have the best young wide receiver in the nation next year.

It’s fun to talk football and there will be much more speculation in the weeks to come.