Announcement comes inside new weight room
Story and photos by Scott Robertson
The East Tennessee State University Buccaneers will play 10 football games during the 2015 season, hosting six. Head football coach Carl Torbush and Director of Athletics Dr. Richard Sander announced the full 2015 schedule during a press conference at the football team’s new weight training facility in Mountain States Health Alliance Memorial Center Thursday.
“We’re very excited about this schedule,” Torbush said. “This will be a great test for us to see where we’ll be in terms of getting ready to go into the Southern Conference in 2016.”
In any normal year, a football team’s affiliation with its conference would take care of most of its scheduling. Once all the conference games are laid in, there are only a few blank weeks left in a season’s schedule.
But since the Buccaneers’ first season back in the Southern Conference football ranks won’t be until 2016, Torbush said, 2015 will be anything but a normal year. “We had to fill in all the blanks in this schedule.”
Torbush credited athletic administrators Scott Carter and Matt McGahee and Billy Taylor, defensive coordinator, with building the schedule from the ground up. ““We had to make sure a particular date would work with a particular team, and there were a lot of calls going back and forth. It took a lot of effort and they did a great job.”
Sander credited Carter and McGahee with doing most of the legwork. “Unlike most schedules where you would have home-and-home (in which colleges alternate years hosting games with each other) being a major component to your schedule, it was very difficult for us to contemplate home-and home for 2015. But this schedule will give our fans a chance to see the Bucs play six home games, including some rivalries I think we will continue to build and grow.”
Chief among those rivalries is the homecoming game scheduled for Sept. 26., against Emory & Henry. “Our homecoming game against Emory & Henry is an old-timey rivalry,” Torbush said. “It’s a game that if you think back to the 1940s, 50s and early 60s, Emory & Henry had a great football program that was nationally ranked year in and year out. It was a great rivalry between Emory & Henry and ETSU. So to get that game on the schedule for homecoming should mean we’ll have a heck of a crowd because they’ll bring a lot of people for that game.”
Other red-letter games include the match-ups against Charleston Southern (coached by former Buccaneer Jamey Chadwell) Sept. 19 and Maryville College, (coached by former Buc Mike Rader) Sept. 10. The game against Mercer Oct. 17 pits the Bucs against a future Southern Conference rival.
The Bucs will play two Thursday night games, including the opener against Kennesaw State Sept. 3 and the Maryville game the following week. “I like that,” Torbush said. “I think Thursday night is an exciting night to play football. You’re only competing with two or three games on television as opposed to Saturday when there are 20 or 30 games on television. I think we’ll have great crowds.”
Sander noted that while some of the names on the schedule are not familiar to the average fan, the Bucs faced certain requirements in setting up their inaugural schedule. “Because of NCAA regulations, for us to be classified as an FCS member we have to play more than 50 percent of our games against FCS teams. That means we’ll have to play at least six games against FCS teams. Those games include St. Francis Oct. 3 and Robert Morris Nov. 7.
Sander also took the first step to tempering expectations for the inaugural campaign. “All those FCS teams will have been in existence for quite a while and will have four or five classes,” he said. “We will then have 18 and 19 year old young men playing against 22 and 23 year old men.
We will only have had two recruiting classes,” Sander continued. “Carl strategically has had to figure out how to deal with those two classes. We can’t use all the players we have because we’ll use up a year of eligibility of two different classes, which would leave a big hole in our sequencing of classes.”
Torbush agreed, saying, “We’re trying to put this puzzle together so that in five years we don’t have 70 seniors and no sophomores. We have to be careful about how many we play and how many we redshirt.”
One other challenge yet to be overcome is the question of where the Bucs will play. The proposed new stadium is far from reality and a formal agreement with Johnson City to allow the Bucs to use Science Hill’s Kermit Tipton Stadium is not yet finalized.
“The six home games, I don’t know if they’ll be (at Science Hill),” Torbush said. “They’ll be ‘home football games.’ I don’t know the finality of that right now. That’ll be totally done by Dr. Sander and Scott Carter, but we’ll be playing somewhere, I know that.”
At the end of the day, Torbush said, the Bucs are ready to face whatever challenges await. “We’re excited about where we are and where we’re getting ready to go.”
ETSU Buccaneer Football 2015
Sept. 3 Kennesaw State
Sept. 10 Maryville College
Sept. 19 @ Charleston Southern
Sept. 26 Emory & Henry (Homecoming)
Oct. 3 St. Francis
Oct. 17 @ Mercer
Oct. 31 Warner
Nov. 7 @ Robert Morris
Nov. 14 @ Gardner-Webb
Nov. 21 College of Faith