It is doubtful if anyone performed more of a coaching miracle in 1964 than Bill Tate at WAKE FOREST. Tate took a squad which had won once in 20 games and twisted the season into a 5-5 record. The Deacons beat Duke for the first time in 13 years, upset Maryland and even defeated the champions, N.C. State. Along the way Fullback Brian Piccolo led the nation in rushing, Quarterback John Mackovic led the conference in total offense and End Richard Cameron was All-ACC. It was beautiful. It is now only memorable. It is not to be repeated. Everyone is gone except Tate, and Wake Forest appears to be headed back to where it came from before Tate left Pete Elliott's Illinois staff. But the coach is far from despair. Piccolo's replacement is Andy Heck, who was a junior-college All-America last year at McCook ( Neb.). Mackovic's is Ken Hauswald, a reserve last season. Tate, after all, can afford to be hopeful. Whoever heard of Piccolo or Mackovic before he got there?
The main things SOUTH CAROLINA has to boast about are five new assistant coaches, all brought in by Marvin Bass to add zest and eagerness to the program. He should also have brought some backs. Of the 28 lettermen, 21 are linemen, and the whole season may depend on Quarterback Jimmy Rogers, who replaces Dan Reeves. Rogers is good, but is he that good? Bass is proceeding under the assumption that nothing could be worse than 1964, when he had his third straight losing season. He could be right.
One of the most exciting teams in the Southern Conference will be GEORGE WASHINGTON and all because of Garry Lyle, 6 feet 2, 198 pounds. He is the first Negro ever to make the All-Southern team, and he did it last season as a sophomore in only five games, the five in which he moved from tailback to quarterback. Lyle is from Verona, Pa., and Coach Jim Camp unhesitatingly calls him "the best runner in the area." All in all, George Washington has eight holdovers from the first defensive team and six from the offensive unit. Lyle is the key. He runs, passes (for seven touchdowns in those five games last fall) and returns punts and kickoffs.
Entering the conference this year is EAST CAROLINA with a single-wing attack and an 8-1 record from last year plus a victory over Massachusetts in the Tangerine Bowl. Eighteen lettermen return, and the system will be geared to Fullback Dale Alexander and George Richardson, who moves from fullback to tailback.
The Citadel must decide whether Jete Rhodes, who was No. 3 last year, or Safety Bill Ogburn will be the quarterback to lead a powerful backfield, featuring Paul Farren, 195 pounds and fast, from Sausalito, Calif. Although just eight starters are back, the Bulldogs expect improvement over last year's 4-6 record.
Virginia Military Institute expects nothing quite that dramatic. VMI was 1-9 and then lost several veterans. Everything depends on how well Hill Ellett, a junior, does at quarterback.
Furman could lend VMI some back-field material. It has 10 lettermen among the top three lineups, including Quarterback Sammy Wyche and three fullbacks, Billy Turner, Bob Buzzell and John Burrell. Coach Bob King will play his all-letterman starting unit both ways.
William and Mary will again be watched with interest because of the face-lifting job Coach Marv Levy did a year ago. Levy left California and went 2,500 miles to win four games. He came close in two others, against Virginia and Virginia Tech. Last spring he had 35 sophomores out for practice, a total which outnumbered the veterans. Foremost among them were Fullbacks Adin Brown, 198 pounds, from El Paso, and Bob Gadkowski, 195 pounds, of Chatham, N.J. The accent will be on youth, but Levy can call on 11 lettermen to lend experience in the line.
Another coach who has moved from West to East is Homer Smith, the backfield coach at the Air Force for four years, now the head man at DAVIDSON. He is without a seasoned quarterback. He does have Jake Jacobsen, who led the upset over Furman, but Jacobsen did not wind up playing enough to get a letter. Steve Smith, who rushed for over 150 yards in each of the last three games, breaking a school record, returns, however, to add his 190 pounds and speed to the attack.
Richmond also has quarterback troubles, and the chore falls to Jan Linn, a junior who played less than five minutes in a 1964. He is accompanied by good runners, among them Ronnie Grubbs, Don Matthews and Larry Zunich. Jim McKenna is the best of the sophomores.