By Ed Greif
When Russ Huesman was hired as coach of the Chattanooga Mocs in 2009, his motto was "restore the glory." The "glory" has been restored, especially after his team posted an 8-4 mark and shared the SoCon championship with Furman and Samford with 6-2 marks.
The Mocs had their first eight-win season since Bill Oliver's Mocs posted an 8-3 mark and a 5-2 SoCon mark in 1980. Oliver (1980-'83) posted a 29-14-1 overall and 18-7-1 conference marks, while Huesman's five-year marks are 31-25 overall and 23-17 in the SoCon.
The Mocs shared the conference with Furman and Samford, which both earned playoff spots. It is a shame, because Chattanooga beat Furman and lost to Samford during the regular season. The Mocs also won six straight SoCon games.
Chattanooga now is 502-507-35 all-time.
Many Moc fans, including yours truly, were watching ESPNU Sunday to see if they would get a bid into the FBS playoffs. Furman and Samford was two of the 24 teams invited.
The combine won-loss record UT-Martin, Georgia Southern and Samford was 22-13, while the won-loss mark of the eight teams the Mocs beat were 25-69. Four of those teams finished the season with double-digit losses. Furman was 7-5.
Huesman and his coaching staff have another war to fight — recruiting — to find replacements for graduating seniors Bryant Belew, Hunter Dockery, Wes Dothard, Dean Haynes, D.J. Key, Derrick Lott, Gunner Miller, Chaz Moore, C.J. Murrell, Kevin Revis, Devin Scates and Kadeem Wise. All 12 seniors had outstanding careers and were part of the "restore the glory" motto Huesman established in 2009.
The SoCon coaches and media released their post-season honors.
The coaches voted Huesman as Coach of the Year, while quarterback Jacob Huesman was Offensive Player of the Year and defensive lineman Davis Tull was the Defensive Player of the Year.
Named first-team offense were QB Jacob Huesman, OL Kevin Revis and TE Faysal Shafaat.
Tull, linebacker Wes Dothard, defensive back D.J. Key and defensive back Kadeem Wise were on the first team defense. DL Josh Freeman was named to the second team defensive unit.
Second team specialist was Chaz Moore and running back Derrick Craine and defensive end Keonta Davis were named to the All-Freshmen teams.
The media voted Revis (OL) and Shafaat (TE) to the first team offensive team, while Tull (DL), Key (DB) and Wise (DB) were first team defense.
Jacob Huesman (QB) was second team offense, while Freeman (DL) and Dothard (LB) were second team defense.
Congratulations to those individuals.
The SEC championship game pairing will be decided this week.
Unbeaten Alabama (11-0) faces 10-1 Auburn in the Iron Bowl at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, AL Saturday. The winner will face Missouri or South Carolina in the SEC title game next week.
Missouri needs to beat Johnny Manziel and the Texas A&M to secure one spot. If the Aggies win, South Carolina goes to Atlanta because they beat Mizzou' earlier this season.
Should Auburn upset Alabama, you could have Florida State vs. Ohio State in the title game, but "not so fast," as Lee Corso would say.
Florida State still has to win the ACC title game, but the suprising Duke Blue Devils of David Cutcliffe need to defeat North Carolina Saturday to win the ACC Coastal Division.
Ohio State will most likely play Michigan State in the Big Ten title game in a couple of weeks. Ohio State plays Michigan Saturday, while Michigan State hosts Minnesota.
Unbeaten Northern Illinois (11-0) needs a win over W. Michigan to secure the MAC West title. They will either play Bowling Green or Buffalo in the MAC title game. Northern Illinois could get a BCS at-large bid.
Fresno State needs a win over San Jose State to lock up the Mountain West West division, while Utah St. can wrap up the Mtn. West Mountan division by beating Wyoming.
Stanford and Arizona State are favorites to play for the Pac-12 title, while Oklahoma State leads the Big 12.
Getting back to the SEC, Missouri, South Carolina, Georgia, Vanderbilt, Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Texas A&M and Ole Miss are bowl eligible. Mississippi State can become bowl eligible with a win over Mississippi in the Egg Bowl this weekend.
Florida, Tennesse, Kentucky and Arkansas are ineligible for bow.
The rest of the SEC slate began Thanksgiving evening with Ole Miss at Mississippi State, which needs to win to become bowl eligible. Arkansas travels to L.S.U. Friday afternoon seeking its first SEC win, while Florida State visits Florida Saturday. The Gators will miss their first first bowl trip in 22 years.
Wake Forest visits Vanderbilt, while Georgia Tech travels to Georgia, Clemson visits South Carolina and Tennessee goes to Kentucky.
MTSU is bowl eligible at 7-4, and are heavy favorites over UTEP Saturday in Murfreesboro.
There are 74 teams with 6-5 records to be bowl eligible. Independents Notre Dame, Navy and BYU are among the bowl eligible teams.
There are nine others (at 5-6) needing one more win to become bowl eligible. The bowl matchups will be announced after all of the conference championship games next week.
(Ed Greif is the Chronicle sports editor and his column appears periodically.)