HERMAN HICKMAN SAYS:
Football in the Southeastern Conference is played without a holier-than-thou attitude. In this conference the open athletic scholarship plan—the grant-in-aid—was conceived, nurtured and practiced, and the salient features of this practice are fast becoming the model for other conferences.
Nowhere does the thud of the well-timed block or the crisp tackle ring with more authority. Football—winning football—is serious business from the top of the triangle at Lexington-in-the-Bluegrass to the terminal base points of Gainesville and New Orleans.
In all the Deep South, Georgia Tech seems best equipped to carry through to the championship and to play—and win—its annual bowl game. Possibly never has a more experienced team been fielded in the SEC. And remember, this is the same squad that lost only a single game (Auburn 14, Tech 12) in 1955. Nonetheless, Tech could be clawed by the hungry Kentucky Wildcats at Lexington in its first outing this season (see The Eleven Best Elevens).
Regardless of how Tech fares, Ole Miss—with a much lighter schedule—may reach its millennium by winning the SEC championship for the third straight time and going to a bowl for the third consecutive year. Coach Johnny Vaught lost most of 1955's varsity, but he has enough replacements to make the Rebs a good bet to repeat.
Resurgent Tennessee is capable of beating anybody on any given Saturday, but a murderous schedule with seven tough games in a row dims Bowden Wyatt's hopes for the title.
Vanderbilt gave a brilliant performance in the Gator Bowl last year, walloping a highly favored Auburn 25-13. Quarterback Don Orr was one of the best I saw last year. Couple him with Phil King, last year's 200-pound sophomore fullback who has been switched to left halfback; supplement this with the soph fullback sensation, Jim Butler—no wonder Coach Art Guepe readily admits this is the best backfield he ever coached. His optimism is tempered only by a loss of line strength.
At Auburn the line strength seems just as good as last year's, very big, with ample reserves. However, the backfield should not be quite as good.
To my way of thinking, Blanton Collier, late of Paul Brown's Cleveland Browns staff, has done the best coaching job in the SEC these past few years. Watch out for his Kentuckians, despite their awesome schedule.
This could also be a Gator year. Florida has the size, speed and experience. The only question mark is at quarterback, where Coach Bob Woodruff has been experimenting with four or five candidates. Georgia, the pass-ingest team in the conference, should also be much improved, while hopes are high down on the bayou that LSU will have a winning season.