Greensboro–Today we are taking a break from the serious side of college football to have a little fun and raise some money for scholarships and charity. I’m at Lake Oconee, near my home town of Union Point, for the annual Chick-fil-A Bowl Challenge golf tournament. I’d like you to come along.
It started as modest idea, something that would allow the Chick-fil-A Bowl to thank its supporters and to have some fun.
They would invite head coaches from all over and team them with a famous athlete from their school for a round of competitive golf against a dozen other such teams. Some scholarship money would be at stake to keep it interesting. CBS would record the competition and fill a hole in the programming lineup on Christmas Day.
“When we started we didn’t know what kind of response we would get or how popular the event could be,” said Gary Stokan, president of the bowl. “We just wanted to host something fun for all our partners.”
Today $350,000 in scholarship money will be on the line for the annual Chick-fil-A Bowl Challenge golf tournament. First prize is $120,000 which goes to the general scholarship fund of the winning school. By the end of the day the CFA Bowl will have handed out $500,000 for scholarships and various charities.
With this many coaches in one place, there is bound to be some news. Here are just a few nuggets:
**–South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier and former Gamecock receiver Shannon Sharpe won this event a year ago. Spurrier’s football team, however, struggled (7-6) last season but he is encouraged by what he saw in spring practice. And yes, Gamecock fans, Spurrier is cautiously optimistic that Stephen Garcia is growing into an SEC-caliber quarterback.
Spurrier was getting a little good-natured ribbing at dinner Monday night for having seven players drafted, more than any other SEC school. Six of those picks, it should be noted, were in the fifth and seventh rounds.
**–Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt said the Falcons got a good one in first-round choice Peria Jerry. “Now he’s got a motor and will give you everything he’s got,” said Nutt, whose second Ole Miss team is getting some preseason love in the SEC West.
**–Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, who owns a summer home on Lake Oconee, just finished up spring practice last Saturday. He’ll spend most of June down here and then be back in the state on Sept. 5 when the Hokies, the defending ACC and Orange Bowl champs, take on Alabama in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff at the Georgia Dome. “That game has our attention, I promise you that,” Beamer said. “It is just a good opportunity for our program.” Beamer teamed with former Hokie basketball star Dell Curry to win this event two years ago.
**–Former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville is here. He’s working on his golf game and getting ready to do some studio work for ESPN this season. “I’m looking forward to watching for a while to see what I’ve missed,” said Tuberville. Tuberville made it clear that he wants to coach again and the smart money says he will.
**–Former Arizona State coach Frank Kush continues to work with the program which is now run by Dennis Erickson. He is more than a little concerned about the Sun Devils’ trip to Athens on Sept. 26 to play Georgia. “They handled us pretty good at home (27-10) last year,” said Kush, who was Arizona State’s head coach for 22 seasons (1958-79). “The SEC teams really have a lot of athletes.” His undefeated 1970 team played in the Peach (now Chick-fil-A) Bowl and beat North Carolina to finish 11-0.
**–Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe was all smiles after linebacker Aaron Curry was taken as the No. 4 pick overall in the NFL Draft. One of the things people try to use against Wake Forest in recruiting is that Grobe’s program is not the best stepping stone to the NFL. This season Wake Forest had the highest player chosen in the ACC and its three overall picks were more than Florida State and Miami combined. “They won’t be able to use that against us anymore,” Grobe said. Grobe will be playing with former Wake Forest basketball star and CBS analyst Billy Packer.
**–My pick to win today is Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson and former Jacket basketball star Jon Barry, who is a scratch golfer and hits it nine miles. “I’m just here to make the putts,” said Johnson, who swings a pretty mean stick himself.
**–Even the basketball coaches get in the act. Former Georgia coach Hugh Durham, former Alabama coach Wimp Sanderson, and former Georgia and Kentucky coach Tubby Smith (now at Minnesota) are here.
Thanks for traveling with me today. I’ll see you back in Atlanta on Wednesday.