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.

Tulane is on the upswing despite serious losses in the center of the line. Coach Andy Pilney has a hot horse in Fullback Ronnie Quillian and wouldn't trade Tackle Dalton Truax for any other lineman in the Southeast.

Mississippi State, meanwhile, will probably go through an experimental year under Wade Walker, Darrell Royal's replacement as head coach. Don't expect the Maroons to rise much this season.

Alabama lost 10 straight last year. I'm going to save that sentence because I might have to use it in 1957.

MISSISSIPPI
UNIVERSITY, MISS.

COLORS: Red and navy blue.

BASIC OFFENSE: Split-T.

1955 RECORD: Won 9, lost 1.
Cotton Bowl: Beat TCU 14-13.

LETTERMEN RETURNING: 24 of 36.

WATCH FOR: Paige Cothren, B; Billy Yelverton, T; Eddie Crawford, B; Charles Duck, G; Bill Lott, B.

THE DOPE: The Rebels, last year's conference champs, have the team and the schedule to repeat. Ole Miss will lack some early-season experience, with nine of 11 starters graduated, but men like Billy Yelverton at left tackle, Charles Duck at right guard, Paige Cothren at fullback and Eddie Crawford at left half furnish Coach Johnny Vaught with plenty of championship material on which to build. "The first crowd [team] is O.K.," says Vaught, "but, save for Earl McKay at right guard, there are not 100 playing minutes to spread around the balance of the letterman roster. Compared with 1955 we're a team short." Game experience should soon fix this, however, and Ole Miss starts easy against N. Texas State. The rest of the Rebel schedule is a setup even for sophomores, so another bowl game may be in the offing.

1956 SCHEDULE (1955 score):

Sept. 22—North Texas St. (33-0)
Sept. 29—Ky. at Memphis, N (14-21)
Oct. 6—Houston at Jackson, N (27-11)
Oct. 13—Vanderbilt (13-0)
Oct. 20—Tulane at Jackson, N (27-13)
Oct. 27—Arkansas at LittleRock, N (17-7)
Nov. 3—at Louisiana State, N (29-26)
Nov. 10—at Memphis State (39-6)
Nov. 17—at Tennessee (no game)
Dec. 1—at Mississippi State (26-0)

AUBURN
AUBURN, ALA.

COLORS: Orange and blue.

BASIC OFFENSE: Spread T, split-T and T.

1955 RECORD: Won 8, lost 1, tied 1.
Gator Bowl: Lost to Vanderbilt 13-25.

LETTERMEN RETURNING: 14 of 23.

WATCH FOR: Jim Phillips, E; Ernest Danjean, G; Bobby Hoppe, B.

THE DOPE: The Plainsmen have 24 Red Shirts moving up to the varsity, in addition to the best 1955 frosh squad in the conference. Although Coach Ralph (Shug) Jordan complains of very little experience in his backfield and no depth at tackle, he has a fast team and a pair of ends (Jimmy Phillips and Jerry Elliot) who are the envy of every coach in the SEC. Auburn lost Halfbacks Joe Childress and Fob James through graduation, but Bobby Hoppe and Tommy Lorino show just as much promise at these positions and will cushion the loss effectively. Jordan cautiously rates his season chances this way: "Auburn football will be good for many years to come. We think we are capable of beating anyone on our 1956 schedule. But, in the same sense, anyone—almost—is capable of beating us on a given Saturday."

1956 SCHEDULE (1955 score):

Sept. 29—Tenn. at Birmingham (no game)
Oct. 6—Furman (52-0)
Oct. 13—at Kentucky, N (14-14)
Oct. 20—at Georgia Tech (14-12)
Oct. 27—Houston (no game)
Nov. 3—at Florida (13-0)
Nov. 10—Miss. State (27-26)
Nov. 17—Georgia at Columbus (16-13)
Nov. 24—Florida State (no game)
Dec. 1—Alabama at Birmingham (26-0)

TENNESSEE
KNOXVILLE, TENN.

COLORS: Orange and white.

BASIC OFFENSE: Single wing.

1955 RECORD: Won 6, lost 3, tied 1.

LETTERMEN RETURNING: 20 of 30.

WATCH FOR: John Majors, B; John Gordy, T; Buddy Cruze, E.

THE DOPE: The Volunteers are as weepyeyed as former Notre Dame Coach Frank Leahy just before a winning season, so this is a team to watch. Coach Bowden Wyatt is squatting atop a mother lode of football talent, crying towel in hand, trying to disarm opponents with predictions of gloom such as: "We are not as good as some of the writers have indicated. Evidently they have forgotten to check our 1956 schedule, which includes five of last year's bowl teams." Unquestionably he doth protest too much. With three experienced men at the all-important tailback position and a hefty, magnificently conditioned line, Tennessee is equipped to match anyone on its schedule. The individual standout is Tailback Johnny Majors, maybe the best running back in Dixie. The squad is better organized this year, has more know-how and more depth. The only weakness is a slight shortage of interior linemen but, barring injuries, Wyatt can get along with what he has. Wyatt's well-conditioned teams are relatively free from injury.

1956 SCHEDULE (1955 score):

Sept. 29—Auburn at B'mingham (no game)
Oct. 6—at Duke (0-21)
Oct. 13—Chattanooga (13-0)
Oct. 20—Alabama (20-0)
Oct. 27—Maryland (no game)
Nov. 3—North Carolina (48-7)
Nov. 10—at Georgia Tech (7-7)
Nov. 17—Mississippi (no game)
Nov. 24—Kentucky (0-23)
Dec. 1—at Vanderbilt (20-14)

VANDERBILT
NASHVILLE, TENN.

COLORS: Gold and black.

BASIC OFFENSE: Split-T with variations.

1955 RECORD: Won 7, lost 3.
Gator Bowl: Beat Auburn 25-13.

LETTERMEN RETURNING: 14 of 30.

WATCH FOR: Don Orr, B; Art Demmas, T; Phil King, B; Lucian Tatum, G.

THE DOPE: The Commodores lost the middle of their line through graduation, and only two lettermen returned to help fill the two guard positions and center; so the tackle slots will be the main bastions of the Vandy forward wall. If Coach Art Guepe can shape the team's solar plexus into something resembling a hard muscle by the season's opening he should have a pretty fair season. The Vandy backfield has a good all-round attack, with the running game holding the greatest potential. Passing is good, but a lack of experienced receivers may curtail the aerial game to a certain degree. Quarterback Don Orr is the key man in the Vanderbilt offense, on the ground and in the air, and is the fellow to keep your eye on. Coach Guepe comments: "Our 1956 Commodores are inexperienced compared to the fine '55 team, but if they can hold their own while picking up very vital game experience I believe we'll have another very fine team for the second half of our schedule."

1956 SCHEDULE (1955 score):

Sept. 22—Georgia, N (13-14)
Sept. 29—Chattanooga, N (12-0)
Oct. 6—Alabama at Mobile, N (21-6)
Oct. 13—at Mississippi (0-13)
Oct. 20—Florida (21-6)
Oct. 27—Middle Tenn. St., N (46-0)
Nov. 3—at Virginia (34-7)
Nov. 10—at Kentucky (34-0)
Nov. 17—Tulane (20-7)
Dec. 1—Tennessee (14-20)

KENTUCKY
LEXINGTON, KY.

COLORS: Blue and white.

BASIC OFFENSE: Split-T.

1955 RECORD: Won 6, lost 3, tied 1.

LETTERMEN RETURNING: 23 of 37.

WATCH FOR: Lou Michaels, T; Dave Kuhn, C; Bob Dougherty, B; Duke Curnutte, G.

THE DOPE: The Wildcats will attempt the toughest season ever scheduled at Lexington. The card shows five opponents who were competing in bowls last New Year's Day. Chief problems revolve around development of replacements for seven starters among the 14 missing lettermen, including a pair that rated as one of the nation's best aerial combines—All-Conference Quarterback Bob Hardy to All-America End Howie Schnellenberger. If Kentucky can fill these gaps and get the full capabilities from standouts like Tackle Lou Michaels, Center Dave Kuhn and Fullback Bob Dougherty, the shattered lineup should fall into place well enough to provide a creditable year. Coach Blanton collier sees the running game as Kentucky's major strength, due principally to the kind of replacements who will keep it up to par when the first unit is resting. Kentucky should also have an outstanding pass defense, a specialty of Collier-coached teams. There is danger here for everyone in the conference.

1956 SCHEDULE (1955 score):

Sept. 22—Georgia Tech (no game)
Sept. 29—Miss. at Memphis, N (21-14)
Oct. 6—at Florida (10-7)
Oct. 13—Auburn, N (14-14)
Oct. 20—Louisiana St., N (7-19)
Oct. 27—at Georgia (no game)
Nov. 8—at Maryland (no game)
Nov. 10—Vanderbilt (0-34)
Nov. 17—Xavier (Ohio) (no game)
Nov. 24—at Tennessee (23-0)

MISSISSIPPI STATE
STATE COLLEGE, MISS.

COLORS: Maroon and white.

BASIC OFFENSE: Split-T.

1955 RECORD: Won 6, lost 4.

LETTERMEN RETURNING: 16 of 27.

WATCH FOR: Ron Bennett, E; Frank Sabbatini, B; Levaine Hollingshead, E; Bill Stacey, B.

THE DOPE: The Maroons start their first year under Coach Wade Walker, following Darrell Royal's departure for Washington, without an experienced quarterback. But rave notices are already out on Sophomore Billy Stacey, and Walker hopes to build a fine running attack around this green prospect. Team speed should be improved over last season, and there is better depth, albeit inexperienced. The team is weakest at tackle and halfback, where all the candidates are on the small side and substitutes are few. The halfback shortage was increased when Billy Morgan broke a collarbone in preseason practice and was sidelined for eight weeks. Cried Walker: "That was the toughest break we could have gotten. Not only was he our best runner, but he had experience—something our other left halfbacks don't have." Walker will be feeling his way slowly this year, so one must not expect much from the Maroons.

1956 SCHEDULE (1955 score):

Sept. 22—Florida (14-20)
Sept. 29—at Houston, N (no game)
Oct. 6—at Georgia (no game)
Oct. 13—Trinity (Texas) (no game)
Oct. 20—Arkansas St. (no game)
Oct. 27—at Alabama (26-7)
Nov. 3—at Tulane (14-0)
Nov. 10—at Auburn (26-27)
Nov. 17—at Louisiana St., N (7-34)
Dec. 1—at Mississippi (0-26)

TULANE
NEW ORLEANS, LA.

COLORS: Green and blue.

BASIC OFFENSE: Split-T.

1955 RECORD: Won 5, lost 4, tied 1.

LETTERMEN RETURNING: 24 of 30.

WATCH FOR: Ron Quillian, B; Dalton Truax, T; Don Miller, C; Gene Newton, B.

THE DOPE: The Green Wave lost two of the best guards in the conference in Tony Sardisco and Bryan Bunthorne, but Coach Andy Pilney is already reshaping another "spoiler" eleven with anticipation in his eye. Pilney is excited about Fullback Ronnie Quillian, who he claims is without a peer in the nation, and he is also betting a lot of his reputation on Tackle Dalton Truax in rebuttal to LSU's Leggett. "We will have a more experienced and, we hope, generally a better-balanced team," says Pilney. "The schedule is tougher, though, and our improvement may not show up in won-lost records. Too, we really cannot expect to be so fortunate in avoiding injuries as we were last year." The Greenies are planning a strong running game with good team speed, both inside and outside the ends. The defensive line appears rugged, but unless Pilney can develop a throwing quarterback he stands as much chance in the SEC as a snowball in August.

1956 SCHEDULE (1955 score):

Sept. 22—Virginia Tech (no game)
Sept. 29—Texas (21-35)
Oct. 6—at Northwestern (21-0)
Oct. 13—Navy (no game)
Oct. 20—Miss. at Jackson, N (13-27)
Oct. 27—Georgia Tech (no game)
Nov. 3—Mississippi State (0-14)
Nov. 10—Alabama (27-7)
Nov. 17—at Vanderbilt (7-20)
Dec. 1—Louisiana St. (13-13)

LOUISIANA STATE
BATON ROUGE, LA.

COLORS: Purple and gold.

BASIC OFFENSE: Variable T.

1955 RECORD: Won 3, lost 5, tied 2.

LETTERMEN RETURNING: 17 of 28.

WATCH FOR: Earl Leggett, T; Paul Ziegler, G; M.C. Reynolds, B.

THE DOPE: The Bengals consider their major assets to be their defensive line and a sound passing attack, while the major liability is the lack of a capable running back. The veteran line is as solid as any in the conference, with Tackle Earl Leggett, a 265-pound mammoth who seems headed for All-America honors. There is a plethora of able ends to handle the passing of M. C. Reynolds, the seasoned quarterback. Coach Paul F. Dietzel's troubled thoughts keep returning to the backfield, where graduation claimed five of his six top runners. The positions are now available to inexperienced sophomoresand untried junior-college transfers. Dietzel says the transfer students will "play an important role in the LSU football picture." Some may make the grade: Jimmy Taylor, Bob Pringle, fullbacks, and Halfbacks Jerry Johnston, Andy Wenner, Al White and Glen Porter.

1956 SCHEDULE (1955 score):

Sept 29—Texas A&M, N (0-28)
Oct. 6—at Rice, N (20-20)
Oct. 13—at Georgia Tech (0-7)
Oct. 20—at Kentucky, N (19-7)
Oct. 27—Florida, N (14-18)
Nov. 3—Mississippi, N (26-29)
Nov. 10—Oklahoma A&M, N (no game)
Nov. 17—Miss. State, N (34-7)
Nov. 24—Arkansas at Shreveport (13-7)
Dec. 1—at Tulane (13-13)

FLORIDA
GAINESVILLE, FLA.

COLORS: Orange and blue.

BASIC OFFENSE: T and split-T.

1955 RECORD: Won 4, lost 6.

LETTERMEN RETURNING: 21 of 34.

WATCH FOR: John Barrow, G; Charlie Mitchell, T; Joe Brodsky, B; Jack Simpson, B; Jim Rountree, B.

THE DOPE: The Gators will have a first-rate running offense featuring Halfbacks Jackie Simpson and Jim Rountree and Fullback Joe Brodsky, but their passing will be found lacking unless Sophomores Jimmy Dunn and Mickey Ellenburg bloom early. Coach Bob Woodruff lost several of his best defense players through graduation and is working hard on replacements, especially at tackle. The most thrilling outlook for the Florida team is the breakaway running of Simpson and Rountree, both of whom are the home run type. Last season Simpson opened against Mississippi State by returning an intercepted pass for 102 yards and a touchdown. Rountree returned the second-half opening kickoff against Georgia 85 yards for a TD. Woodruff, noting that Florida is preseason underdog in nine out of the 10 games on his schedule, comments: "The Gators are lying behind a big log—I sure hope they're not sleeping."

1956 SCHEDULE (1955 score):

Sept. 22—at Miss. State (20-14)
Sept. 29—Clemson (no game)
Oct. 6—Kentucky (7-10)
Oct. 13—Rice (no game)
Oct. 20—at Vanderbilt (6-21)
Oct. 27—at LSU, N (18-14)
Nov. 3—Auburn (0-13)
Nov. 10—Ga. at Jacksonville (19-13)
Nov. 24—Ga. Tech at Jacksonville (7-14)
Dec. 1—Miami (6-7)

GEORGIA
ATHENS, GA.

COLORS: Red and black.

BASIC OFFENSE: T and split-T.

1955 RECORD: Won 4, lost 6.

LETTERMEN RETURNING: 19 of 38.

WATCH FOR: Roy Wilkins, E; Laneair Roberts, E; Jim Orr, B; Knox Culpepper, B.

THE DOPE: The Bulldogs expect to show considerable improvement over last year's discouraging 4-6 record. Head Coach Wally Butts is looking forward to the performance of a group of sophomores who may eventually bring Georgia back to its onetime eminence in southern football. Butts rates the 1956 squad this way: "Potentially our strongest team in several years. Improved material, mostly up from the 1955 freshman squad. Should develop into a good club by midseason." He adds the opinion that no SEC team will go through an untied, undefeated season and says his Bulldogs will enjoy their share of the upsets. Georgia has as fine a pair of flankmen as any college in the SEC in Laneair Roberts and Roy Wilkins. This indicates another strong passing attack. Further help comes from Jimmy Orr, last year's right halfback, who led the conference in receiving. The passes for this sticky-fingered trio will come from Quarterback Joe Comfort.

1956 SCHEDULE (1955 score):

Sept. 22—at Vanderbilt, N (14-13)
Sept. 29—Florida State (47-14)
Oct. 6—Miss. State (no game)
Oct. 13—at North Carolina (28-7)
Oct. 19—at Miami (Fla.), N (no game)
Oct. 27—Kentucky (no game)
Nov. 3—Ala. at Birmingham (35-14)
Nov. 10—Florida at Jacksonville (13-19)
Nov. 17—Auburn at Columbus (13-16)
Dec. 1—Georgia Tech (3-21)

ALABAMA
TUSCALOOSA, ALA.

COLORS: Crimson and white.

BASIC OFFENSE: Split-T.

1955 RECORD: Won 0, lost 10.

LETTERMEN RETURNING: 13 of 29.

WATCH FOR: Wes Thompson, T; John Snoderly, C; Clay Walls, B.

THE DOPE: The Crimson Tide of Alabama, loser of 10 straight last year, has tumbled a long way from the football pinnacle it occupied for nearly a quarter century, and there is little hope for improvement in the near future. Coach J. B. (Ears) Whitworth counts on developing a fast team, but he simply does not have enough ability on the squad to cope with the rest of the Southeast Conference. "We are going to be a young club," he advises. "We could get going in November with some breaks." Looking on the brighter side, one finds Tackle Wes Thompson, a standout in the line who could probably play his position on any squad in a conference that is loaded with powerful linemen. Then there is Bobby Jackson, a sophomore halfback who suggests better years ahead. Still, it would be false optimism to hope for improvement at Tuscaloosa this fall. It is a strange position for once-great Tide to occupy for two straight seasons, but they could finish last again.

1956 SCHEDULE (1955 score):

Sept. 22—at Rice, N (0-20)
Oct. 6—Vanderbilt at Mobile, N (6-21)
Oct. 13—Texas Christian (0-21)
Oct. 20—at Tennessee (0-20)
Oct. 27—Miss. State (7-26)
Nov. 3—Georgia at Birmingham (14-35)
Nov. 10—at Tulane (7-27)
Nov. 17—at Georgia Tech (2-26)
Nov. 24—Miss. Southern (no game)
Dec. 1—Auburn at Birmingham (0-26)

ILLUSTRATION PHOTOHALFBACK BILL LOTT GALLOPS FOR OLE MISS PHOTOAUBURN'S ALL-AMERICA END JIM PHILLIPS PHOTOVOL COACH BOWDEN WYATT HAS THE POWER PHOTOVANDY COACH GUEPE EXPECTS LATE START PHOTOKENTUCKY'S HEAD COACH BLANTON COLLIER PHOTOBENNETT SNAGS ONE FOR MAROONS PHOTORONNIE QUILLIAN, TULANE'S ACE FULLBACK PHOTOEARL LEGGETT, LSU'S 265-POUND TACKLE PHOTOGATOR HALFBACK JACK SIMPSON PHOTOGEORGIA FULLBACK KNOX CULPEPPER PHOTOWES THOMPSON, CRIMSON TIDE TACKLE

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)