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Golden Eagles tired of talking, ready to play

By By Richard Dark/The Meridian Star
Dec. 20, 2000
MOBILE Tonight, weeks of hype, hoopla and speculation culminate when Southern Miss and 13th-ranked Texas Christian square off in the second annual GMAC Mobile Alabama Bowl.
The season's first bowl game, dubbed the "Battle by the Bay," kicks off at 7 p.m. and will be in the national spotlight, televised on ESPN2.
USM (7-4) enters the game as a seven-point underdog.
The game features plenty of coaching sidenotes as, after waffling back and forth, TCU finally decided last Thursday night that it would be in the team's best interests if newly-appointed head coach Gary Patterson received the task of coaching the game, rather than outgoing architect of the 10-1 season, Dennis Franchione.
An earlier vote by TCU's players revealed their choice of Franchione to coach the game.
Despite not being on the sidelines, it would be a safe bet that Franchione will be in attendance at Ladd-Peebles Stadium to watch his former team, and that their will be many fans of his current team the Alabama Crimson Tide on hand to judge the worthiness of a Franchione-recruited player and designed scheme.
USM is not without their own coaching distractions.
Media outlets in the state and in Georgia have addressed the swirling rumor mill that is whether or not USM head coach Jeff Bower will in fact take the job at the University of Georgia.
Reportedly, there have also been plenty of NFL coaches interviewed by UGA Athletics Director Vince Dooley.
But Bower put any speculation to rest, saying late Monday that he hadn't been contacted yet and didn't expect to until after the bowl game.
With a Tuesday media moratorium on interviews until postgame tonight, there weren't many new thoughts on the game itself, but defensive end Cedric Scott summed the challenging situation up best for the Golden Eagles.
Perhaps a forgotten position thanks in large part to Tomlinson and the Frog defense.
But TCU quarterback Casey Printers' play this season has been anything but unforgettable. The sophomore has averaged 196.2 yards of offense, completing 102-of-176 passes for 1,584 yards and 16 touchdowns while rushing 84 times for 265 yards.
The latter is also important because with Printers and Tomlinson, the Frogs are 17-1 in the past two years when they've run for 240 yards or more in a game.
USM qb Jeff Kelly on the other hand, is more of a threat to air it out.
The Verizon All-Academic All-American and native of nearby Citronelle found the mark on 198-of-341 passes for 2,381 yards and 15 TDs this year.
The talking, it seems, is done.
Richard Dark is a sports writer for the Meridian Star. Email him at rdark@themeridianstar.com.

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