JOHN L. PITTS: High hopes will hinge on QB play




Bowl season ended with both Ole Miss and Mississippi State as winners.

That’s the first time it’s happened since 1999. And it has both fan bases very excited for 2014.

And with good reason, considering that both teams will return playmaking quarterbacks – and if there’s one thing you need to succeed in college football these days, it seems like a playmaking QB is No. 1 on the checklist.

As recently as two seasons ago, I would have said the No. 1 thing you need is a strong defense. But the game is changing, almost too quickly to fully appreciate, into something that often resembles a video game.

I’m reminded of the indoor football teams that used to play in Tupelo. One coach said his goal was to get one good defensive stop per half. Sounds a lot like many of this year’s college bowl games.

One of the top story lines in the SEC will be transition at quarterback for several top programs, including Alabama, Texas A&M and Georgia.

Meanwhile, Bo Wallace of Ole Miss and Dak Prescott of MSU were the MVPs in their respective bowl victories.

But experience at QB can’t be the whole story. Just ask Georgia, which returned the prolific Aaron Murray this fall but stumbled to a disappointing 8-5 finish.

It’s all about assembling the right supporting cast – a hot topic as we progress toward National Signing Day in February.

I took a quick glimpse at the 2014 schedule and I can see eight wins on the table for both the Rebels and Bulldogs next fall – and that’s before the Battle for the Golden Egg in Oxford.

The expectations are there. Now, it’s all up to execution.

Random thoughts

• The Tennessee Titans’ 2014 schedule includes a home game against the New York Giants. Given how the NFL’s scheduling works, it might be Eli Manning’s last appearance in Nashville.

• I don’t think Bill Walton ever stops talking during a college basketball broadcast, but sometimes they just turn down his sound.

• I lost quite a bit of weight the other morning when I froze my bottom off while pumping gas.

John L. Pitts (john.pitts@ is sports editor of the Journal.

Click video to hear audio