Never mind identifying the players. As the college football season begins, you can barely name the coaches without a program.
There are 24 new coaches in Division I-A this season. Ten will make their debuts today as the season gets into full swing.
No. 16 Alabama will play its first game under Mike DuBose, the former defensive coordinator who replaced the retired Gene Stallings. With the possible exception of Bob Davie, whose first game as Notre Dame’s coach is next week, no first-year coach will face as much scrutiny as DuBose.
In his first test against Houston at Legion Field today, he will be without Michael Vaughn, Alabama’s leading receiver last year, and Dennis Riddle, last season’s leading rusher.
Vaughn underwent surgery Thursday to repair a ruptured disc in his lower back. He could be lost for the season. Riddle will serve a one-game suspension that he and DuBose agreed upon months ago but was not publicly announced until this week.
The loss of Vaughn - who caught 39 passes for 702 yards last year - is more important, especially for a team that wants to open things up more this season.
“We’ve got guys who we know can make the 10- or 15-yard play,” DuBose said. “What we may be missing is the guy who can go all the way.”
Houston will try and saddle DuBose with the same introductions given to Stallings and Bear Bryant, both of whom lost their opening games with Alabama.
Baylor’s Dave Roberts will have the toughest assignment among this week’s new coaches as his Bears face No. 14 Miami at Waco, Texas.
“It’s a challenge playing a team like Miami,” said Roberts, the former Notre Dame offensive coordinator. “We’re trying to install a new offensive system and it’s a tough opening opponent.”
Four other ranked teams will play today, all at home, including defending national champion and second-ranked Florida against Southern Mississippi. No. 5 Tennessee meets Texas Tech; No. 6 Nebraska warms up against Akron, and No. 13 Syracuse (1-0) faces North Carolina State.
At Florida, the coach is the same, but a new quarterback will be unveiled, replacing a graduated star.
Gators coach Steve Spurrier is counting on strong-armed sophomore Doug Johnson to succeed Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel.
“He’s not going to try to be Danny,” Spurrier said. “I think he understands what it takes to be the quarterback on our team. He watched Danny Wuerffel - he had a chance to learn from the best.”
Johnson was the only true freshman to play for the Gators last year. He took only 70 snaps in mop-up duty behind Wuerffel, completing 12 of 27 passes for 171 yards, with two touchdowns and three interceptions.
Other coaches making their debuts today include Walt Harris at Pittsburgh, which is home against Southwestern Louisiana, and Hal Mumme, who leads Kentucky against Louisville.
One game today - Cal State Northridge (I-AA) at Boise State (I-A) - will match new coaches, Dave Baldwin for the Matadors and Houston Nutt for the Broncos.
And Doug Williams, the 1988 Super Bowl MVP, will make his coaching debut for Morehouse College (I-AA) against Morgan State (I-AA).
xxxx Today’s Top 25 schedule (2) Florida vs. Southern Mississippi (3 p.m., ESPN2) (5) Tennessee vs. Texas Tech (4:30 p.m., ESPN) (6) Nebraska vs. Akron (13) Syracuse vs. North Carolina State (9 a.m., ESPN2) (14) Miami at Baylor (16) Alabama vs. Houston
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