South Alabama And Troy – The Beginning Of A Rivalry?

September 24, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

The South Alabama Jaguars have now turned their focus to their first Sun Belt Conference football game against Troy University. While they have never met on the gridiron, South Alabama and Troy have a long rivalry in the Sun Belt.

Both schools have fought hard against each other in all other sports. But in the south, football is king. And that rivalry is about to reach new heights this week when Troy visits Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

While the Jags are playing a full Sun Belt schedule this season, they are not eligible for the conference championship or a bowl game. But that does not deter the Jags from wanting to make waves in the conference this season.

Up to this point, the Jags have only played a handful of teams more than once. UTSA and Georgia State were the closest things to a rivalry game Jags fans have experienced until Saturday’s kickoff arrives. But this game will be a true rivalry game, an intense one, between the two schools.

“It will be a very exciting thing just because of geography,” Troy director of athletics Steve Dennis was quoted by the Press-Register. “Now that South Alabama has matriculated through the football stages, and we’ve always had a great rivalry in basketball and baseball and we recruit the same areas, football is just another addition to the puzzle, so to speak. It’s a very big piece though when you talk about football in the state of Alabama.”

Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson spoke about the South Alabama and Troy rivlary. “Once South Alabama started football, that was the impetus for a true, legitimate rivalry,” he said. “When you have two schools in the same state, just a few miles from each other and fans have a chance to travel to the respective schools, that’s what makes a rivalry. The fans have to embrace the rivalry in order for there to be a rivalry.”

“Their proximity allows for it,” he continued. “The state of Alabama kind of has it’s own structure. Obviously there’s Auburn and Alabama and now you can thrown in Troy and South Alabama. … I think Troy-South Alabama has the same type of rivalry potential as Auburn-Alabama.”

Dr. Joel Erdmann, the South Alabama Athletics Director, is looking fowards to this weekend’s game as well as the rivalry’s future. “Due to several things – due to our proximity, due to the fact we’re located in the same state, due to the fact that we each have alumni in each other’s backyard – I think it’s a natural and tremendous fit for a rivalry that can be grown over the years,” Erdmann said. “They are an institution that has been around a little longer than us and they have been playing football a little longer than us – quite a while longer than us – but they have some aspects where they have climbed, too. They made a great climb from Division II through the old Division I-AA and now to the FBS. And not only has football had great success on a national level, but they have other sports that have been successful in the Sun Belt Conference and on a regional and national level.”

However, in the early days of the Sun Belt, South Alabama had a different in-state rival. UAB and South Alabama had a strong rivalry in basketball, but when the Blazers left the conference for Conference-USA the rivalry faded. Though they have played each other in basketball over the last few years, it isn’t the same.

Troy had a great rivalry with Jacksonville State when both teams were in Division II. However that rivalry was lost when Troy moved through Division I-AA to Division I-A (FBS) competition. Though they have developed a football rivalry with Middle Tennesse State and other schools in different sports, but not to the potential level a football rivalry with the Jags could reach.

“I think we can work to build this rivalry into something very special,” Erdmann said. “This could be one of those events that our people and their people circle on their calendars when the schedules come out in early spring.”

But a good rivalry has an equally good name. What name will emerge for this rivalry?

Hopefully this rivalry will stay on the positive side without the negativity that so many fans know and associate with the Alabama-Auburn rivalry.

Jags Sun Belt Debut Vs Troy Will Be Televised

August 1, 2012 · Filed Under Football, News · Comment 

It was announced today that the Jaguars first-ever Sun Belt Conference football game will be televised. This historic game will feature the Jaguars versus Troy University and will be televised on a regional basis as it will be included in the league’s broadcast package this fall.

The September 29th game will be available on the Sun Belt Network which is a joint partnership with Comcast Sports Southeast (CSS) and Cox Sports Television (CST). It will be available in 13 states across the southeast and it is likely to also be carried on ESPN Game Plan and ESPN3 nationwide outside of CSS and CST markets.

In order to accommodate television, the kickoff time will be moved up to 2:30pm on Saturday, September 29.

It’s Our Time! Go Jags!

Troy AD Abruptly Announces Resignation

July 25, 2012 · Filed Under News, Sun Belt Conference · Comment 

Troy University is prepping a search committee after the abrupt announcement by Athletics Director Steve Dennis of his plans to resign from his position effective September 30, the day after South Alabama plays their first Sun Belt game versus Troy in Mobile.

Dennis did not give a reason for his announcement which was released via a short statement by the University’s athletics media relations department.

Troy University is a special place and I have been privileged to play a role in the growth and development of its athletic program over the past seven-and-one-half years. The University will always hold a special place in my heart and my family will always be a TROY family.

I have presented my resignation as Director of Athletics to Chancellor Hawkins effective September 30. Our athletic department has accomplished a great deal at TROY, and I believe this is the right time in my life to explore other opportunities. In announcing my departure, I thank the members of the coaching and support staffs of the Department of Athletics and I cannot thank Chancellor Hawkins enough for giving me this opportunity.  He is a tremendous leader but most of all he is a great human being and it has been a privilege to work for and learn from him. I am sure that great things lie ahead for Trojan athletics and I look forward to watching the growth and maturity of the program in the years to come.”

Dennis played football at Georgia where he was a defensive captain in 1978, is a former assistant coach at Auburn where he was on the staff with Troy head football coach Larry Blakeney.

Paul Bennett Participating In Troy University’s Pro Day

March 7, 2012 · Filed Under Football · 3 Comments 
Paul Bennett diving for touchdown

Paul Bennett dives into the end zone for a Jaguar Touchdown in 2010.

Former Jaguar Paul Bennett will be participating in Pro Day at Troy University on Friday March 9, 2012.

According to South Alabama’s records, Bennett only missed one game during his Jaguar career, in 2010. He ended his career with 18 catches for 226 yards and two touchdowns. However, his presence was felt by the opponents. His blocking was exceptional with several crushing blocks to seal off the perimeter for Jaguar running backs.

Bennett was chosen by his teammates to wear the honorary number 5 jersey in memory of Anthony Mostella who died after a motorcycle accident in June of 2010.  The jersey is given to a graduating senior to works hard both on and off the field and, as Head Coach Joey Jones stated, “earns it.”

 

Jags Baseball Surrender First Place To Florida Atlantic

May 10, 2010 · Filed Under Baseball · 1 Comment 

The Jags fell to second place in the Sun Belt after this past weekend’s three game series at Stanky Field. After falling 7-2 to FAU on Friday night, the Jags came from behind on Saturday night to win 6-5 on a walk-off balk in the 9th inning.

On Sunday afternoon, the Jags lost 6-3 to FAU after a squandering a 3-0 lead in the top of the eighth inning. The Jags allowed five runs on six hits in the top of the eighth, including back-to-back home runs to take the lead 5-3. FAU added an insurance run in the top of the ninth.

So the Jags went into the weekend with a one game lead over FAU but leave the weekend trailing by one game. FAU improves to 18-8 in the Sun Belt and 30-17 for the season while the Jags fall to 16-7 in the Sun Belt and 29-19 on the season.

The Jags still control their own fate though with two more Sun Belt series left in the regular season while FAU only has one series left against FIU.

The Jags have their last non-conference game tomorrow night at Stanky Field when they host #18 ranked Auburn University then they will travel to FIU for a three game weekend series followed by a Thursday through Saturday series at Stanky Field hosting Troy University to end the regular season.

South Alabama Sports Round-Up 2009-07-06

July 6, 2009 · Filed Under Football, News · 1 Comment 

Summer is that time of year when college sports really slows down. Baseball season has ended, football camp is about a month away and most people are trying to find some way to beat the heat. But now that there is some news to write about and its a mere 60 days until kickoff of the inaugural South Alabama football season, we have another South Alabama Sports Round-Up to get out.

Athletic Director

With less than a month until Joe Gottfried hangs up his AD hat for retirement, South Alabama has not been forthcoming about potential replacements as of yet. However I would expect that to start to ramp up very soon with the committee set to reconvene sometime early this month to review candidates. President Moulton has gave the committee a target date of September 1st to have the job filled.

The Mobile Press-Register wrote not too long ago about some candidates that were interested in the position, two of them with previous ties to the university and Mobile itself. John Hartwell, who is the executive associate athletic director for Ole Miss and Joel Erdmann who is the Athletic Director at Southeastern Louisiana have both confirmed that they are interested in the position.

But Erdmann and Hartwell are not the only ones expressing interest in the position. Johnny Williams, former AD at Troy University, has expressed interest in the job. Plus people close to Birmingham-Southern AD Joe Dean Jr. has indicated that he might be interested in the position as well.

Dr. John Smith, vice president for student affairs and faculty athletics representative, is chairing the search committee and has stated that as of late June, there have been 23 applications received for the position with more expected to be received.

Erdmann and Hartwell speak highly of the potential that USA has since the addition of football to its sports program and likening the potential of South Alabama’s success to the quick rise of South Florida since the inception of football at their school.

Football

Speaking of football, coach Jones said that about 95% of USA’s scholarship players were on campus for the first summer session which started in May. Now with the second summer session starting in late June, Coach Jones now has 100% of his scholarship kids on campus as well as most of their walk-ons as well.

Most of the kids have already qualified with the exception of a couple kids they are waiting to see how well they do in summer classes. Matt Autry is expected to enroll in Jones County JC and hopefully will rejoin the Jaguars once he has gained eligibility.

In order to get down to the 30 scholarship limit for the 2009 class, there will be several players grayshirted. So far the grayshirts for this year will be Linebacker Mytez Madden, Saftey Zach Brownell, Defensive Lineman Will Thompson and ATH Mardavian Martin. Jared Palmer, WR from Tuscaloosa, will either be grayshirted or will attend JC depending on his academics. QB Early James and OL Chris Payne, who were mid-semester JC signees, have left the program.

August 2nd will be the first official team meetings and will becing practice on August 4th. Coach Jones anticipates a healthy roster to being practice with only a few players involved in minor rehab at this time. Receiver Christopher Pugh has a torn meniscus, but is currently working out and going to rehab and hopes to be ready once practice starts. Also it was overheard that Coach Turner (one of the brothers) had a staph infection on his hand. I don’t have any details about what type of infection he might have had, but its probably the a simple infection due to a cut.

Staph Infection from WebMD: “About 25% of people normally carry staph in the nose, mouth, genitals, and anal area. The foot is also very prone to pick up bacteria from the floor. The infection often begins with a little cut, which gets infected with bacteria. These staph infections range from a simple boil to antibiotic-resistant infections to flesh-eating infections. The difference between all these is how deep and how fast the infection spreads, and how treatable it is with antibiotics. The antibiotic-resistant infections are more common in North America, because of our overuse of antibiotics. The type of staph infection that involves skin is called cellulitis and affects the skin’s deeper layers. It is treatable with antibiotics. This type of infection is very common in the general population — and more common and more severe in people with weak immune systems. People who have diabetes or weakened immunity are particularly prone to developing cellulitis.”

Obviously lots of interest will be on the quarterback position starting in August. With the #1 guy in the spring, Matt Saucier, moving to safety, the position is really up for grabs. The most experienced should be Oregan State transfer Brennan Sim. But Nic Owens, Myles Gibbon and Kyle Stewart will definitely be battling for the starting position.

Coach Jones was quoted saying, “We have four good candidates coming in. The he hard part of that is that we’re going to have to give reps to someone and get them ready. People don’t realize that when you are starting a new program you have to make a decision on a quarterback fairly quick because if you fool around for two weeks and give four people all the reps than they won’t know many of the plays. We’re going to have to do a great job of evaluating those kids in the first week. I think at the end of the first week we need to decide who is one, two and three, not that it will be etched in stone.”

Like I have been saying, what is probably the best situation for the Jags is to have Brennan Sim (JR) to win the starting job with one of the freshmen as his backup. Then giving the other two a redshirt to give them an extra year of maturity and understanding of Coach Gregory’s system.

Season tickets sales are around 6.000 so far and USA has a goal of selling 10,000. With that many season ticket holders, the Jaguars would lead the Sun Belt before even playing their first season. If you haven’t purchased your season tickets yet, what are you waiting for? Saturday afternoons in Mobile will be a great answer to ‘what are we doing this weekend?’ and for $85 for seven games, you’re not going to get off that cheap anywhere else.