The rest of the backfield is only slightly less complicated. Brad Johnson is gone as fullback, but Dooley had planned on replacing him with Bruce Kemp, a big, bruising breakaway power runner. Then up stepped Julian Smiley in the spring. A 205-pound sophomore, Smiley has been described as a white Jimmy Brown.
The receivers are Flanker Charles Whittemore, who led the team in receptions last year; Dennis Hughes, the wide end known as Superman; and Billy Brice, the tight end. Georgia claims it hasn't had a receiver like Whittemore since Jimmy Orr.
There is inexperience in the secondary, but Georgia's overall defense should be as tough as ever. It's Dooley's trademark.
But, Dooley still argues, "We are overrated again. If we go undefeated and win another SEC championship, I'll retire. If I can do that with all the weaknesses we have, it won't be any use for me to hang around and try and top that feat."
For a man who is the self-proclaimed superfan of the Missouri Tigers, the events of last year's Christmas holidays were unsettling. A business crisis in one of his two Kansas City steak houses, both called the Cock and Bull, forced Peter J. Carter to miss his team's 35-10 victory over Alabama in the Gator Bowl. "When it reaches the point where one of my restaurants is interfering with Missouri football," he said, "then that restaurant has to go." So Carter, true to his word, put the steak house up for sale.
Carter plans to let nothing prevent him from attending Missouri's games this fall. This is the year he has longed for since 1945, when the Tigers won their last unclouded conference championship. (They also won in 1960, when Kansas was declared ineligible.) "I have no doubts," Carter says. "In my estimation we will win the conference. Missouri has more material than ever. All Coach Devine has to do is fit the pieces together, and nobody can do that better than Dan."
Enthusiasm for the Tigers isn't restricted to the team's premier supporter. Because no other major university or college in Missouri plays football, the Tigers are the hometown boys of the entire state. Start at Columbia, the site of the university, and go to the cotton lands of southeast Missouri or northeast to Mark Twain country around Hannibal or to the Ozark Mountains and lakes in the southwest. The people there will tell you about the Alabama game and, largely because of it, they'll echo Carter's prediction.
Even Dan Devine, the intense, introverted coach who has given his state 11 consecutive winning seasons and four bowl game victories, bubbles with joy at the mention of the Gator Bowl. "If you had compared our football facilities with Alabama's," he says, "you wouldn't think we had a right to be on the same field. Their athletic dorm has everything. We don't even have an athletic dorm. Why, Bear Bryant's private bathroom is bigger than my whole office."
The star of the Gator Bowl victory, Quarterback Terry McMillan, is back. His three touchdown runs earned him the bowl's most valuable player award. To McMillan, who is at least as interested in representing the Campus Crusade for Christ as he is in scoring touchdowns, his performance was surprising. He had been a substitute at a Coral Gables high school and, when Florida recruiters came buzzing, Terry was ignored. McMillan is only an adequate passer, but he is superb at running option sweeps. And when he isn't keeping it himself, he will have a difficult time deciding which one of Missouri's herd of runners should get the football.