GMC’s Williams earns national honor

mlough@macon.comJanuary 18, 2014 

The season didn’t end the way Georgia Military College had hoped, but the list of achievements during the 2013 season grew with Bert Williams being named the National Junior College Athletic Association football coach of the year this past week.

The award is voted on by the NJCAA Coaches Association.

GMC finished the regular season 11-0, including a 10-point win over defending national champion Iowa Western and spent much of 2013 ranked first.

But it was No. 2 East Mississippi’s day in the national championship, topping the Bulldogs 52-32.

Williams is fifth among active NJCAA coaches with a 113-37 record, after leading GMC to its fourth national title game since he took over as head coach in 2000. A year later, GMC went 11-0, won the national title, and Williams was the NJCAA coach of the year.

Talking tournaments

Amid last spring’s dance between Mercer and the Southern Conference came a change to the A-Sun basketball tournaments Mercer hosted for so long but never won.

The A-Sun decided to get away from the bid process and go to campus sites. So this year, seeds really matter, because the top four seeds open the tournament at home, and the higher remaining seeds host the rest of the way.

Ironically, Mercer’s men might be at home again.

The men’s tournament begins March 4 with the semifinals two days later and the championship at 2 p.m. on March 9 on ESPN2.

The women’s event is a week later, with the semifinals March 15 and the championship a day later at 3 p.m.

The school at the top of the A-Sun geographic footprint is out of the running. Northern Kentucky, near the top of the standings in women’s conference play and in the middle of the men’s, is ineligible as it continues to reclassify to Division I.

Florida Gulf Coast was the preseason favorite for both men and women, followed by Mercer’s men and Stetson’s women. That only adds to the story lines of Thursday night’s men’s showdown between Florida Gulf Coast and Mercer at Hawkins Arena.

Entering Saturday’s action -- Mercer at Lipscomb at 5 p.m. and East Tennessee State at Florida Gulf Coast at 7:35 p.m. -- the Eagles and Bears were tied atop the A-Sun at 5-1.

The rematch in Fort Myers is Feb. 21. Florida Gulf Coast closes out at Lipscomb and Northern Kentucky with Mercer at home against North Florida and Jacksonville.

Talking tournaments, II

The Peach Belt Conference basketball tournaments are March 6-9 and the SIAC event is March 3-8.

The Peach Belt has the top four teams in each division play in a cross-seeded format with both sets of semifinals March 8 and championships March 9. Columbus State’s 4,500-seat Lumpkin Center is the host.

The SIAC has moved its tournaments to Birmingham’s Bill Harris Arena on the west side of town.

Talking tournaments, III

It is, of course, never too early for the shot in the dark known as Bracketology, two-plus months before the NCAA tournament actually starts.

As of Jan. 16, more than two months before the NCAA tournament starts, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi projects Mercer as 13th seed playing Creighton in San Diego.

The previous two weeks, he had Mercer out and Florida Gulf Coast in a first-round game against Hampton or Norfolk State.

On Saturday, ESPN had Mercer rated No. 52 among 76 candidates for the tournament, down as the automatic bid and as a 13th seed. On Friday, CBS Sports had Mercer as a No. 13 playing Massachusetts in Raleigh.

Both bracketologists had Georgia State winning the Sun Belt’s automatic bid and indicated the Southern Conference champ would be in a first-round game. Selection Sunday is March 16.

Middle Georgia State jamboree

Some of the past and present will converge when Middle Georgia State welcomes Southern Union in the baseball season opener Feb. 1.

New president Christopher Blake and former head coach Robert Sapp are among those who will take part in a postgame Diamond Club Jamboree Dinner.

Also expected to attend are a few members of old Middle Georgia College’s national championship teams. Kal Daniels was on the 1982 team, while Jeff Treadway and Ernest Riles were on the 1980 title team.

Daniels played in the majors with Cincinnati, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago Cubs. Treadway, who coaches softball at Stratford, was part of the Atlanta Braves’ NL championship team of 1992 while also playing with the Reds, Cleveland, the Dodgers and Montreal.

Riles was drafted by Milwaukee and played with San Francisco, Oakland, Houston and Boston.

Admission to the game is $5. The dinner cost $20 for non-Diamond Club members and $10 for children 10 and under.

For more information, contact the Middle Georgia State Foundation at 471-2732.

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