An his 13 years at UC-Davis, Jim Sochor has become the winningest active coach in Division II (102-30-4) and has sent seven players to the NFL, including Quarterback Ken O'Brien, whom the Jets picked in the first round of this year's draft. This season Sochor will keep winning and he'll send the pros at least one more player, Free Safety Bo Eason. Brother of Tony Eason, the former Illinois quarterback who was the Patriots' first pick in the draft, Bo may well be the best in the country at his position—in any division. Last season he had five interceptions.
Under Sochor, Davis has won 12 straight Northern California conference titles. Last year the Aggies reached the national championship game. All this at a school that offers no athletic scholarships and no spring practice, has no required weight program, and budgets football at $40,000 annually. Moreover, as a group the varsity athletes have a higher graduation rate and maintain a higher GPA than the student body as a whole.
Sochor, who has a doctorate in education from the University of Utah, considers himself a teacher first. All but one of his five full-time assistants have master's degrees, and he's surely the only football coach in the country to have been elected president of his school's faculty club (in 1977) as well as Distinguished Lecturer of the Year (1978). "We want to be the best," says Sochor, "but within the school's philosophy. It's so much more fun coaching at an institution like Davis. The students are sophisticated, accept responsibility and are motivated."
Southwest Texas State will not lack incentive this year. The national champions in 1981 and '82, the Bobcats bring a 17-game winning streak into '83. Further, this is their last season in Division II; next year they graduate to I-AA. Finally, they have a new coach, John O'Hara, an assistant at Baylor the past 10 seasons. O'Hara replaces Jim Wacker, who takes over at TCU after having achieved a 42-8 record in four years at Southwest Texas State. All-America Linebacker Tim Staskus leads a defense that remains virtually intact. The offense, which wound up second in the division in rushing (264.6 yards per game), features Running Back Ricky Sanders, who gained 1,177 yards.
Southwest Texas State may be the best team in the Lone Star Conference, but the best player is probably senior Tod Weder of Stephen F. Austin State. Weder, who was a junior college All-America transfer from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, led the conference last year in total offense. With the arrival of Weder and Coach Jim Hess, who had an eight-year record of 65-23-3 at Angelo State and won the NAIA national title in 1978, the Lumberjacks were 6-5 last season after having gone 1-10 the previous year. Sixteen returning starters should make them even more formidable this fall.
Another Lone Star star is East Texas State signal-caller Kyle Mackey, son of former New York Jet Tight End Dee Mackey. After two seasons Mackey already has passed for 3,854 yards. He guides a well-balanced attack that also stars junior Ricky Dirks, who last season rushed for 1,070 yards and nine TDs and caught 27 passes for 328 yards.
Still another gifted Lone Star quarterback is Abilene Christian's Loyal Proffitt. Although he passed for 2,243 yards and 17 touchdowns in '82, Proffitt also threw 27 interceptions and completed just 42% of his 358 attempts. If Proffitt returns to 1981 form, when he was named Lone Star Freshman of the Year, the Wildcats will be tough.
Jacksonville (Ala.) State Coach Jim Fuller played guard and tackle on two national championship teams at Alabama (1964 and '65). His teammates included current Crimson Tide Coach Ray Perkins, Joe Namath, Ken Stabler and Texas A&M Coach Jackie Sherrill. No wonder the Gamecocks run the most sophisticated offense in the tough Gulf South conference, averaging 34.4 points per game in '82. And no wonder they have made the national playoffs five of the last six years. The Gamecocks will rely heavily on their one-two punch at tailback, which accounted for 27 of the 29 touchdowns the team scored on the ground last year. Reginald (Short Dog) Goodloe rushed for 1,030 yards and 13 TDs, while Walter Broughton ran for 509 yards and 14 touchdowns.
West Georgia, the Division III champ last season, which was only the second year the school had fielded a football team, moves into the Gulf South conference and Division II. In 1982 the Braves suited up 117 players, went 12-0 and led Division III in scoring, total offense, rushing offense and scoring defense. Only two starters graduated from that team. It's not surprising, then, that while setting up their '83 and '84 schedules, no Division III teams would agree to play West Georgia. Hence the move to Division II, armed with a $310,000 budget and the slogan "A New Challenge."
Over the last three years, 6'4", 220-pound Tom Bertoldi has passed for 5,032 yards and 27 TDs at Northern Michigan, and the Wildcats have lost only three regular-season games. His favorite target is 5'7", 165-pound Matt Paupore. Paupore, age 25, spent four years in the Air Force, and before that was runner-up in the national junior ski-jumping championships with a leaps of 59.0 and 63.5 meters in '76.
North Dakota State should roll again this year. The Bison retains 18 starters, including All-America Linebacker Steve Garske. It's also a season of cheer for tough little Shippensburg (Pa.) University, whose faculty has an organized yell section. The profs concoct new cheers for each game, and they're likely to be yelling loudest about Split End Jeff Zubia and Placekicker Jeff Auker. Don't give up the Shippensburg fans.
2. SOUTHWEST TEXAS STATE
3. JACKSONVILLE STATE
4. EAST TEXAS STATE
5. NORTH DAKOTA STATE
6. NORTHERN MICHIGAN
7. ABILENE CHRISTIAN
8. STEPHEN F. AUSTIN STATE
9. WEST GEORGIA