Monday, November 12, 2007

Off and running

The JSU men's basketball team got its home opener with Tennessee Temple off and running. They won the opening tip and Jeremy Bynum promptly hit a 3-pointer. Then they got a steal and layup. Moments later, Dorien Brown soared home with a flying dunk.

By the way, the Hardcorps pep band were in full sound. They're decked out in matching red shirts, while the Go-Gos were replete in an all-black ensemble.

On the football front, fifth-year senior Matt Hardin will start Saturday for the Gamecocks at Southeast Missouri.

Friday, November 9, 2007

The pay is good, if you can get it

What's a guarantee game against a Southeastern Conference team worth to a program like Jacksonville State?

Depending on whom you play, when you want to play them and how long you can hold out to get them, it means big bucks.

And if you get a win out of it, like Gardner-Webb did against Kentucky Wednesday night, it can be worth a lot more. OK, the GW-Kentucky thing was in a tournament situation, but you get the idea.

The Gamecocks picked up a check in the neighborhood of $65,000 for opening their season at Georgia Friday night. Not bad work for a three-hour bus ride.

If the Gamecocks hadn't finished their schedule so soon - way sooner than when it was announced - it probably could've gotten more than what it wrangled from the Bulldogs.

As it was, they wanted to play the first Friday night of the season, and Georgia had the date, so the game was made.

"Had we waited until August to knock it down, there were people offering 80-85 (thousand)," JSU coach Mike LaPlante said. "But once you get to that point in time, you're not going to be able to be selective on the dates."

The payday is comparable to the best the Gamecocks have ever gotten for basketball. It represents a shade over 10 percent of what the program spends.

And the ante has risen substantially since LaPlante scheduled Kentucky and Auburn at the start of his first season with JSU. The Gamecocks pulled down a little more than $40,000 for those; the Missouri Valley is paying more than that now.

"The market back then was 40," LaPlante said.

Now, the conversation doesn't even start until you're talking 50-55K.

"That's the least I would ever play (for)," LaPlante said. "I don't think I would even play now for less than 60 to one of these SEC schools, because that's what the market pays."

Selective memory?

According to the Georgia notes, Friday night's game was the first ever meeting between the Bulldogs and Gamecocks.

But JSU lists a victory -- one of only two against SEC competition -- in the third game of the 1959-60 season.

Georgia lists a 6-0 record over Ohio Valley Conference schools, but one of those victories -- an 85-68 win over Murray State in the 2002 NCAA Tournament -- was later vacated because of NCAA sanctions. The Dawgs also have beaten Eastern Kentucky, Samford, Tennessee State and Tennessee Tech (twice).

Debut delayed

Zack Winston's debut with the Gamecocks will be delayed until at least Monday. The 6-6 freshman forward from Mobile missed Friday's game because of a death in the family.

He played nine minutes in the exhibition victory over West Georgia, scoring three points -- all from the foul line -- and grabbing a rebound.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Ranked or rank

The Gamecocks will have to break with history if they want to keep alive their hopes for an FCS playoff bid.

They play Eastern Illinois Saturday at Paul Snow Stadium. Both teams are 6-3 overall, 5-1 in the Ohio Valley Conference. The Panthers are ranked No. 25 in The Sports Network poll, No. 22 in the FCS Coaches poll.

The Gamecocks haven’t fared well against ranked teams over the years. Since joining I-AA in 1995, they are 3-29 against ranked opponents. They’ve lost their last seven in a row and 11 of their last 12. They’re 3-14 against ranked opponents under coach Jack Crowe.

The Gamecocks’ last win over a ranked foe came in 2002, when they knocked off then-No. 3 Northwestern (La.) State, 19-10. Their other ranked wins came in 2001 (No. 21 Southwest Texas) and 2000 (No. 10 Northwestern State).

They have played at least one team ranked 1 through 11. They’ve played teams that were ranked No. 2 or No. 3 four times each, No. 4 or No. 22 three times each.

The Gamecocks have been ranked 30 times since moving up, but haven’t been in a major poll since pulling down a No. 25 in The Sports Network poll on Sept. 18, 2006. Their highest ranking was No. 12 in both polls Oct. 18, 2004.


It appears soccer coach Julie Davis is safe for another term.

Davis, whose program reportedly was rocked with an in-season assistant's resignation and player discontent, has come to the end of her initial three-year contract. While she hasn't had her year-end evaluation with athletic director Jim Fuller yet -- that's supposed to be next week -- no change seems forthcoming.

"I don’t anticipate any surprises from her and she doesn’t anticipate any from me," Fuller said. "It's not like we haven't talked (about this) before."

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Hall of Fame and other things

The JSU Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremonies are Friday night, and three Hall members will be on hand to personally enshrine the new class.

The Class of 2005-06 class includes Tracy Linton, the Gamecocks' all-time leading rebounder in women's basketball; record-setting pitcher Craig Holman; former quarterback David Gulledge; and All-American defensive back Terry Harris.

Legendary JSU football coach Bill Burgess (Class of 2002-03) will introduce Gulledge, equally legendary baseball coach Rudy Abbott (Class of 2000-01) will introduce Holman; former women's basketball coach Dana Austin (Class of 2004-05) will introduce Linton; and former JSU letterman and assistant coach Ray Emanuel will introduce Harris.

Abbott will be doing double duty at the ceremonies. Besides introducing Holman, he also will be presenting the inaugural Jimmy Bryan Award for lifetime achievement to Glenn Hawkins and Dr. Sam Crawford. Hawkins is a longtime high school official and JSU clock operator. Crawford was a longtime team doctor.

Honored again

Junior return specialist Maurice Dupree was named OVC Special Teams Player of the Week for the second time this season after his performance Saturday against Samford.

Dupree finished with 201 all-purpose yards and one touchdown. He scored on a 24-yard reverse as the Gamecocks reverted to some razzle-dazzle to get their offense going and he returned five kicks for 164 yards.

His kickoff return in the fourth quarter was the play of the game. Although it didn't go for a touchdown, it did go for 86 yards to the Samford 8. Two plays later, Shawn Green scored the clinching touchdown.

Dupree was shaken up on the kickoff return and didn't return to the game.

Dupree ranks third nationally in kickoff returns (33.4 yards per return) and fourth in punt returns (13.9). The Gamecocks are second as a team in kickoff returns.

Yellow Hammered

Tennessee Tech has to be glad Samford is getting out of the OVC and Auburn isn’t a regular non-conference opponent.

Together with JSU, the three Alabama teams proved a brutal gauntlet to the Golden Eagles.
Tech played them in three consecutive weeks, taking three losses, giving up 132 total points and 1,445 combined yards.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Greatest SEC Game Ever

Cleaning out the notebook

It's been a while ...

You probably didn’t notice it, but former Jacksonville State golfer Jeff Corr finished in a tie for 10th at the Nationwide Tour’s Miccosukee Championship in Miami last weekend, the tour’s last full-field event of the season.

He shot rounds of 71, 65, 69 and 72, and finished eight shots behind the winner. By virtue of his finish, he’s exempt into next year’s Nationwide opener at the Chitimacha Louisiana Open in Broussard, La., in March.

Corr, who played two seasons for coach James Hobbs (1998-1999), has been playing on the Hooters Tour and was 65th on the money list this year -- eight spots behind another former JSU golfer (and Anniston Star intern) Nick Mackay.

He went right back to the Hooters Tour after his Nationwide success and finished third in this week’s three-day Winter Series event in Florida, one shot out of a playoff.

Corr played in nine events as a Gamecock, with a 74.63 stroke average. His best round with JSU was a 70 and his best finish was a tie for second.

Speaking of JSU golf, after a whirlwind summer that landed him a spot on the GB&I Walker Cup team, Danny Willett has remained overseas to test his game on the European amateur circuit.

That’s not to say he’s done with Jacksonville State. Willett told The Star in an interview before the Walker Cup matches that he liked the college experience and intended to finish his collegiate career with the Gamecocks. He said he'd like to pattern his development to that of PGA Tour star Luke Donald, who came from England to Northwestern, played college golf and went on to the Tour.

He could still return in January and, retaining his eligibility, play for the Gamecocks in the spring semester.

VOLLEYBALL: The OVC race is jumble, but if the Gamecocks can sweep their four remaining matches, they would host the conference tournament for the second year in a row.

Right now, two games separate the top five teams – Morehead (12-3), JSU (12-4), Murray (11-4), SE Missouri (11-5) and Tennessee State (11-6).

The Gamecocks play SEMO Friday and Eastern Illinois Saturday, then get Morehead and Eastern Kentucky next week. SEMO beat JSU in the first meeting of the season. Morehead and Murray still have to play each other.

In a three-way tie with Morehead, JSU and Murray, the Gamecocks would get the tiebreaker by virtue of having beaten Murray and Morehead twice.

The top two seeds draw a bye, but there’s just something about playing the tournament in the friendly confines of your own gym.

SOCCER: What's up with the women's soccer team? The season's over, it missed the playoffs, an assistant coach quit before a key stretch of games and players are either quitting or said to be wanting to quit. The Chanticleer did a big expose recently.

Coach Julie Davis is in the final year of her contract. It should make for some interesting negotiations. With athletic director Jim Fuller being a bottom-line kind of guy, no doubt the record will be examined.

The team's win total has declined overall and in the league each year after an initial 8-9-2 OVC Tournament season. Davis is 17-33-5 in her three seasons, 9-16-3 in the OVC.

THE HARSH REALITY: JSU associate athletic director for external affairs Roger Shultz has gone off to Hollywood to participate on “The Biggest Loser” television show, and it’s creating a hardship on the athletic department.

His responsibilities have fallen to Mike Parris, the assistant AD for marketing & broadcasting. Parris also is picking up the slack in special projects, on top of being the voice of JSU basketball.

Shultz, who runs the stadium video board during home football games, could be gone anywhere from two to 10 more weeks. The sense around campus is if he hasn’t returned by now, he’s probably getting on the show in Season 5.

He has a medical excuse, but his leave also falls under his six-month JSU employee probationary period. He brought time with him when he came to JSU from Troy.

Athletic director Jim Fuller was reluctant to discuss the issue at length, but there was something in his voice that expressed displeasure.

“All of us could lose weight by not going on a reality show,” he said.