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24 July 2007
JSU out of Big News for Media Days

By Al Muskewitz
Star Staff Writer

Reprinted here in its entirety.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A buzz still lingers over Jacksonville State’s decision to explore the possibility of jumping to college football’s biggest level.

But before the Gamecocks make any kind of move, they still have to take care of business in the Ohio Valley Conference.

The 2007 football season formally opens for the OVC today with the league’s Media Day at the place it has been since JSU joined the league in 2003 — LP Field, home of the Tennessee Titans and the OVC’s Tennessee State Tigers.

Gamecocks coach Jack Crowe will share the stage with the nine other OVC coaches — yes, there are 10 teams in the league this year — to share their hopes and aspirations for the year ahead.

There will be plenty to talk about. Austin Peay rejoins the league as a full-scholarship football playing member. And there are three new coaches — all from the ousted staff at UAB. Watson Brown, a former JSU assistant, landed back in his hometown at Tennessee Tech, Pat Sullivan landed at Samford and Rick Christophel takes over at Peay.

Interestingly, Crowe (Arkansas), Brown (UAB), Sullivan (TCU) and Southeast Missouri’s Tony Samuel (New Mexico State) are all former Division I-A coaches running programs in the league.

No doubt, part of the conversation off the dais will be JSU’s decision this past week to check out what it will take to play in the Football Bowl Subdivision, formerly known as I-A.

Proponents of the move say they see big paydays that could come with potential games against the biggest programs in the game and a boon to campus recruitment. Critics cite the fact the Gamecocks haven’t established themselves on the field with the best in the division they currently play.

University president Bill Meehan said he is interested in the cost of funding such a move.

The exploratory committee is expected to report its finding to the board of trustees Oct. 15.

Of course, the Gamecocks would need a conference to take them in order to make it work; so far, there are no openings in the most expected conferences. At least by exploring the issue, the Gamecocks will be positioned with information in the event a conference spot opens for them.

The only real news expected to come out of today’s three-hour meeting is the predicted order of finish and the preseason All-OVC teams.

Several preseason magazines predict the Gamecocks fifth or sixth, but Crowe says he expects to get more love from his peers in their poll.

The Gamecocks are expected to picked second in the preseason poll. Receiver Taurean Rhetta and specialists Zack Walden and Gavin Hallford are expected to be on the preseason All-OVC team. Rhetta was a second-team on the 2006 end-of-season team.

About Al Muskewitz

Al Muskewitz covers golf and Jacksonville State University sports teams for the Star.

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