First Up: UT-Martin
UT-Martin vs. Tennessee | 4 Sep 2010 | Neyland Stadium
6:00pm EDT | PPV or ESPN3.com
Back to yesterday’s question: Who are UT-Martin?
The University of Tennessee-Martin is located in the town of Martin in Weakley County near the Kentucky border in far northwestern Tennessee. The school originally began life in 1900 as Hall-Moody Institute, a Baptist junior college. When the school was in danger of closing, UT stepped in and operated the school as University of Tennessee Junior College in 1927. In 1951, it became University of Tennessee Martin Branch; and in 1967, it became a primary campus of the UT system. Current enrollment is a hair over 8,000.
Pat Summit is an alum. So is Leonard Hamilton, head coach of Florida State’s men’s basketball team.
As mentioned, UT-Martin is in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), formerly known as Division 1-AA, the lower of two levels of division 1 football, and a member of the Ohio Valley Conference (Tennessee Tech and Tennessee State are the other OVC schools in Tennessee). Home games are played at Graham Stadium which seats 8,000.
The school changed their nickname from Pacers to Skyhawks in 1995. Prior to Pacers, the nickname was Volunteers (changed in 1991), and they were pejoratively referred to as the “Baby Vols”.
UT-Martin tied with Eastern Illinois for the OVC title in 2006, and came within a field goal of winning a second in 2008. Last season, the Skyhawks were 5-6, having to win 3 of their last 4 to barely salvage the season. Looking to 2010, UT-Martin was picked to finish sixth in the OCV Preseason poll.
Head Coach of the Skyhawks is Jason Simpson, who is entering his fifth season at the helm. Simpson’s UT-Martin teams have a 27-20 record (20-11 in conference; 7-9 non-conference).
Before coaching UT-Martin, Simpson was offensive coordinator at UT-Chattanooga, and before that was an assistant at Texas State and Jacksonville State, focusing on QBs and WRs. A native of Ellisville, Mississippi, Simpson played his college ball at Mississippi State and Southern Miss as a quarterback.
Last season’s team featured senior QB Cade Thompson who was 20th in the nation (FCS) in passing yards per game and total passing yards (2,546), and set new school records for passing yards, completion percentage and touchdown passes.
Also featuring for the Skyhawks last season were OT Joe Gibbs, junior LB Josh Bey (returning in 2010), TB Brandyn Young and freshman TB Jason McNair (returning in 2010), each winning All-OVC honors. Gibbs was also named to three All-America teams and claimed UT Martin’s Bob Carroll Male Athlete of the Year Award.
The UT-Martin player to watch is Josh Bey (6-0, 220), senior LB. Bay was named to the 2010 Division I FCS Preseason Favorites watch list by College Football Performance Awards. Last season, Bey led the Skyhawks in total tackles with 107 and was second in the OVC in total tackles. He was ranked among the top 40 in the NCAA FCS in three statistical categories: tackles per game (30th); sacks per game (40th); and tackles for loss per game (10th). This is the first year College Football Performance Awards has made players from the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) eligible for the awards. The purpose of the College Football Performance Awards is “to provide the most scientifically rigorous conferments in college football.” Recipients are selected exclusively based upon objective scientific rankings of the extent to which individual players increase the overall effectiveness of their teams.
Tomorrow, I’ll hazard a guess as to the outcome of Saturday’s opener.
Until then, put on your Karnac the Magnificent turbin and be ready to give your prediction then.