UTC coach Russ Huesman won't watch 'Gameday' again

photo UTC coach Russ Huesman walks the sidelines during the game against Tennessee at Neyland Stadium.

Count University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football coach Russ Huesman among those who were offended by the comments of the ESPN "College Gameday" crew.

During last Saturday morning's telecast, analysts said that power FBS programs playing FCS schools was "embarrassing." Kirk Herbstreit went so far as to say it was the "worst thing happening in college football today."

Those comments led Western Carolina coach Mark Speir to blast the "Gameday" on-air analysts during an interview with AL.com following his team's game Saturday afternoon at Alabama.

Huesman was watching "Gameday" from his hotel room in Greenville, S.C., before the Mocs' game against Furman, but he said he will not watch the show again.

"Herbstreit has bothered me for a few years now," Huesman said. "Nothing to him matters except big-time college football. And then Desmond Howard jumped in, too, and that's when I had had enough. I'll never watch that show again.

"I thought it was absolutely ridiculous for them to put on a rant like that during the course of a show about college football. I thought it was disrespectful. He just alienated people. I tweeted it out after our game and got a tremendous response."

FCS programs often are paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to travel to play FBS teams, money that is used to fund entire athletic departments -- including scholarships for players who otherwise would not have the opportunity to continue playing football and some who wouldn't otherwise attend college.

UTC was paid a combined $800,000 to play at Central Michigan and at Tennessee this season, and Western Carolina was paid $480,000 to travel to Alabama last weekend. Earlier last week, during the Southern Conference coaches' teleconference, Coach Speir said that game alone would basically fund the Catamounts' entire athletic program for a year.

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Coach award finalist

For the second year in a row Huesman is among the 21 finalists for the Eddie Robinson Award, given annually to the FCS national coach of the year. The winner will be announced Dec. 15 at the FCS awards banquet.

Huesman's credentials are even stronger than last year, with what already has been a historic season. He has guided the Mocs to a school-record-tying nine wins and the program's first undefeated Southern Conference season, beating their league opponents by an average of 26.3 points. UTC led the SoCon in scoring offense (35.1 points scored), scoring defense (18.5 points allowed) and total defense (281.9 yards) and is in the playoffs for the first time since 1984.

The school will host a playoff game for the first time.

Already a two-time conference coach of the year (2009, 2013), Huesman is 40-28 in his six years at his alma mater, which had won just 37 games in the 11 seasons before his hiring.

SoCon honors QB

When the SoCon announced its final player of the week awards Monday, UTC quarterback Jacob Huesman earned the offensive honor after totaling 360 yards of offense and four touchdowns in Saturday's win at Furman. The junior from Baylor School completed 17 of 23 passes for 257 yards and two TDs, connecting with six receivers, and added 103 rushing yards and two other scores.

Student tickets on sale

As is customary with all NCAA postseason events, students must buy tickets to the Mocs' playoff game next week. The UTC student rate is $5 per ticket with a valid Mocs Card, and tickets are on sale at the UTC ticket office in McKenzie Arena.

All other tickets are still available on GoMocs.com, at the ticket office or by calling 266-MOCS (6627). Prices are $10 for youth, $20 for general admission and $30 for reserved chairback seating.

Contact Stephen Hargis at shargis@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6293.