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TTU's Maynord knows what OVC title chase is like
Jimmy Maynord is no stranger to Tucker Stadium.
The Smith County head coach is a familiar sight on the sidelines during the preseason and other practices. Sometimes, his Owls will scrimmage or play games on that same turf.
But Tennessee Tech is near and dear to his heart, playing quarterback for four seasons – including being a freshman on the 1975 Ohio Valley Conference championship team.
As the Golden Eagles get ready to take on Austin Peay this weekend for the league championship, Maynord knows exactly what the players are thinking.
After all, he’s been there.
“It’s exciting,” Maynord said. “It’s exciting for the community. I know they’ve had tremendous support at their games. I hope they can get in there on Saturday against Austin Peay and finish it out. Coach (Watson) Brown and his staff has done a great job with this team. They’ve been so close to just running away with it, but just a couple of points here or there.”
It’s not the first time the Governors have a chance to play spoilers on the gridiron, though.
“I remember in 1977 that Austin Peay came in and took us out of another championship,” Maynord said. “We had the better team, but on that particular day they scored late in the game and knocked us out of another conference championship. I’m hoping these guys and the coaching staff are ready and will play a good game.”
The 1975 squad went 8-3, 6-1 in the Ohio Valley. The three losses came to Youngstown State, Appalachian State and Western Kentucky – when the Hilltoppers were in the OVC.
After opening the season 3-3, the Golden Eagles swept their final five games, beating Morehead State (28-13), East Tennessee (48-6), Eastern Kentucky (14-3), Austin Peay (20-0) and Middle Tennessee (30-3).
“I was pretty young then,” Maynord said, “but we had an outstanding defensive ball team. I remember going to Eastern Kentucky and won a game up there. That was back in the old, old, old OVC alignment with Western Kentucky and MTSU, Eastern Kentucky and Morehead – all of those people. Of course, things have changed a whole lot since those days. There’s a lot of fond memories of those days.”
As a former Golden Eagle and a current head coach, Maynord has his advice to the current squad.
“They’ve got to be focused,” Maynord said. “That’s the big thing. They have to guard against overlooking anybody. I’m sure the coaches have preached that all week. I know it’s just that one game, but they just have to be focused. Especially with college football and the OVC the way it’s been this year. Austin Peay has beaten Tennessee State and Eastern Kentucky, two pretty good teams. That tells you they’re very much capable of upsetting you. It’s right there to take, but you just have to take care of business. Sometimes, coming off of a big win (like Tech’s 28-21 win at Eastern Kentucky this past Saturday) and putting yourself in that position, you just have to stay focused.”
Being in the driver’s seat is a good thing, too.
“That’s the position you want to be in,” Maynord said. “You don’t want to depend on somebody else to do it for you. You want to go out and take care of it yourself.”
As an alum, it’s a matter of pride for Maynord.
“I often go by and watch them practice and follow them,” Maynord said. “I’ve been a supporter for a long time. I’m happy for them. It’s been a long time coming, but (TTU athletics director) Mark Wilson has done a great job of helping the program, and, of course, Coach Brown coming in and doing a great job of recruiting and coaching these guys. It’s been a good situation. I know all the fans in the Upper Cumberland area have looked forward to this for a good while. It’s an exciting time for them, and to think that if they go out and win the game on Saturday and be the first Tech team to go to the playoffs, that’s going to be a good thing.”
by Thomas Corhern, The Herald-Citizen