When Georgia clinched the SEC title last November, Coach Vince Dooley kept a promise by shaving his head. Dooley's hair is back, but his offense isn't, and he'd probably prefer it the other way around. The Bulldogs ranked 11th in the land and No. 1 in the SEC both in rushing (3,075 yards) and scoring (324 points) and they controlled the football a whopping 73 plays a game. All but two linemen are gone and only Tailback Kevin McLee returns in the backfield. Seven members of the "Junkyard Dog" defense are back, most notably All-SEC Rover Bill Krug and Linebacker Ben Zambiasi. But Dooley isn't overly optimistic. "Much of our effectiveness was a tribute to ball control," he says. "Now we might find that we're not big enough to spend a lot of time on the field."
Once-mighty LSU rebounded from losing seasons in '74 and '75 with a 6-4-1 record last year, and if it weren't for a missed field goal against Nebraska and a dropped TD pass at Florida, the Tigers would have had a bowl bid. Coach Charlie McClendon enters his 16th season in Baton Rouge with a softer schedule and 10 solid veterans, including Quarterback Steve Ensminger, who reminds folks of ex-Tiger passer Bert Jones. Tailback Terry Robiskie, the school's alltime rushing leader, is gone, but McClendon says his replacement, Charles Alexander, "will run right into the record books."
Johnny Majors comes home to Tennessee (6-5) and Volunteer fans hope he can rework the magic he used to turn Pitt into a national champ. Majors' secret there was recruiting 140 players his first two years. The NCAA doesn't permit that kind of wholesale shopping anymore, and the current Vol squad is too light to contend with its SEC rivals, to say nothing of getting a bowl bid.
Vanderbilt (2-9) and Auburn (3-8) won't be going to any bowl games either, not until their defenses stop giving up points, as they did last year (24.9 a game). The Commodores' stickouts are Defensive End Dennis Harrison, who is 6'8", 272, and Receiver Martin Cox. Auburn's best are Running Backs William Andrews and Joe Cribbs.
Bad news: Mississippi lost its last three games by a combined score of 105-16. Worse news: almost everybody is back.
You don't need a Ph.D. in probability to figure out this bottom line. A "C" in Logic 101 is enough to conclude that Yale, which shared the league title with Brown last year, is loaded. The Eli offense will roll with Halfback John Pagliaro, who averaged 5.7 yards a carry, rushed for 1,023 yards and scored 16 TDs. All-Ivy Guard Steve Carfora and Tackle Jim McDonnell will open the way, and left-handed Quarterback Bob Rizzo can count on junior John Spagnola to make another dozen impossible receptions.
The most likely challengers are Brown, if it finds a replacement for All-Ivy Quarterback Paul Michalko, and Dartmouth, which has Running Backs Curt Oberg and Sam Coffey, who combined for 1,337 yards a year ago, plus a seasoned defense that blanked Penn and Cornell. Dartmouth Tackles Greg Robinson and Ken Jansson, a 250-pound All-America weightman in track, both know how to buttonhole a ballcarrier.
Upset-minded Harvard and Cornell could determine the 1977 champion. Crimson Coach Joe Restic plans to continue confusing opponents with his multifiex offense. Unfortunately, Jim Kubacki, who ran the show for Harvard the past two seasons, is gone and it might take time—say, half a season—for his replacement, Tim Davenport, to figure out all the permutations. Cornell is now coached by Bob Blackman, who won more Ivy League games and championships than anyone else—when he was coaching at Dartmouth.