published Sunday, September 29th, 2013

Chattanooga Mocs may not be done with Eagles

STATESBORO, Ga. — If the price is right, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga could make another visit to Paulson Stadium one day.

UTC athletic director David Blackburn said he'd be open to scheduling a game against Georgia Southern in the future, once the Eagles are fully in the Sun Belt Conference. Saturday's game -- a 23-21 Eagles win -- was the final meeting between the programs as fellow members of the Southern Conference.

Georgia Southern and Appalachian State will begin play next season in the Sun Belt.

"That's a possibility," Blackburn said of playing the Eagles. "We've not had those conversations, but absolutely in the future I would certainly be open to that. It's a rivalry and I would think they might want that.

"I don't know what their capacity to pay would be, but since that's already a natural rivalry, that would make sense."

Blackburn said he'd be open to playing Appalachian State, as well, as long as it made sense financially. The website FBSchedules.com reported recently that The Citadel will receive $175,000 for a game at Georgia Southern in 2015.

UTC hasn't played a guarantee game against a Bowl Subdivision school outside a major conference since 2006, when it visited Memphis. Since then the Mocs have played only big-name programs, for big guarantees, such as Alabama, Auburn, Nebraska and Oklahoma. The Mocs visit two-time defending BCS champion Alabama on Nov. 23 and will receive $450,000 for the game.

How long UTC and Georgia Southern remain in separate divisions remains to be seen. It could be permanent or, if the NCAA "super division" becomes a reality, the Mocs and Eagles could be back together in a few years.

"I don't think it's that farfetched," Blackburn said.

Blackburn said UTC is still working on its 2014 schedule, including a possible season-opening game against a mid-major Bowl Subdivision opponent. The Mocs already are scheduled to face Tennessee on Oct. 11. Other scheduled nonconference opponents are Georgia State, Austin Peay and Tennessee Tech.

Because of the departures of Georgia Southern, App State and Elon, and the additions next season of VMI and Mercer, SoCon teams will play a seven-game league schedule in the 12-game 2014 season, leaving an extra date for a nonconference game.

Haynes' career over

Senior safety Dean Haynes, who has been out since the first day of practice, will have foot surgery and miss the rest of the season, ending his career. Haynes graduates in December and there is little chance of getting another year of eligibility due to medical hardship, Mocs coach Russ Huesman said.

After transferring to UTC from North Carolina State, the former Northwest Whitfield High School star was able to play in the final six games of the 2012 season, starting two, after recovering from a foot injury. He sustained a different foot injury midway through the Mocs' first 2013 preseason practice on July 31.

Extra points

Preseason first-team All-SoCon pick Derrick Lottleft the game in the third quarter with an elbow injury and was taken away for X-rays, Huesman said. ... In the secondary, Zach McCarter made his first start of the season at free safety. McCarter missed the first two games with a knee injury. ... Five Mocs had eight or more tackles, led by safety D.J. Key's career-high 13.

Contact John Frierson at jfrierson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6268. Follow him at twitter.com/MocsBeat

about John Frierson...

John Frierson is in his seventh year at the Times Free Press and seventh year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...

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