Four experts on college and pro football gathered at the Clarence Brown Conference Center for the “Tailgating for a Cause” for the Etowah Scholarship Foundation and discussed several football topics.
Herschel Wisebram started the event five years ago and has watched it grow since.
“The first year, 300 people came and we raised over $8,000,” Wisebram said. “Last year 500 people came and we raised $40,000. It has grown every year.”
Several recipients of Etowah scholarships were in attendance to show their appreciation.
Money was raised through silent auctions and live auctions. Items being auctioned included signed footballs from University of Georgia head coach Mark Richt, Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson and former University of Georgia Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker. Also being auctioned was a baseball signed by Atlanta Brave Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.
The football analysts who were featured included Tony Barnhart, a television analyst for CBS; Wes Durham, who will do several ACC football and basketball games in the upcoming year as well as the Atlanta Falcons’ games; Scott Howard, the play-by-play man for Georgia football; Loran Smith, former sportscaster for UGA, who is now associate director for development at Georgia.
Howard was very appreciative of being asked to do the event.
“I’m sending my second daughter to college right now,” Howard said. “So I know how important scholarship money is and I know how important this event is.”
All four broadcasters offered their opinions on the upcoming football season.
“”I caution you of being excited about the Falcons,” Barnhart said. “The most important thing they did this offseason was keep their coaching staff.”
Barnhart also offered his perspective on college football.
“Until somebody beats Alabama, they will be the team to beat,” Barnhart said. “Auburn will get off to a better start than any of the other teams with new coaches in the SEC. The defense can’t get any worse.”
As with Auburn, the question mark at Georgia will be the defensive side of the ball.
“They only have about four or five guys you can pencil in right now as starters on that defense, but I do expect the defense to be better than people think,” Durham said.
Durham also had his opinion on Georgia Tech.
“Tech should be a lot better on defense than people expect,” he said. “I think Tech is one of the the three or four teams that have a chance to win the ACC.”
The general agreement among the analysts is that college football is as strong as it’s ever been.
“It’s become clear that college football is second to the NFL in this country,” Smith said.
“Say what you want about the BCS, but never has there been as much interest as there is right now in college football,” Durham said. “There is $475 million in television money in college football.”