Saturday Morning Quarterback

Andy Reed • Updated Jul 26, 2013 at 11:29 PM

Back from two weeks of R & R and it feels like a new year.

Most cities’, counties’ and state’s fiscal years have started.

But from a sports’ standpoint, this year is now last year and next year is this year as far as football is concerned. High school practices in helmets and shorts are underway for many teams who are getting a jump start on their offenses with 7-on-7 passing leagues. Those who haven’t while still focusing on conditioning will join in soon.

SEC Media Days will be next week and other major conferences will soon follow. NFL players and coaches are getting in their final rounds of golf before training camps open in a couple of weeks.

I know we focus on Jan. 1 as being New Year’s Day. The calendar says so. But that’s in the middle of the school year. And that’s what colleges and high schools build their seasons around, thus it’s the middle of basketball season when the big ball drops in Times Square.

But July 1 comes smack dab in the middle of summer break from school. The spring sports seasons have been over for a few weeks and football is weeks from getting started. Even the NBA and NHL have crowned their champions by then, barely.

Only pro baseball is in the heart of its season among the four major team sports leagues.

High school and college seniors have turned their tassels and their attention to the next phases of their lives. Incoming freshmen are on their way to infuse new blood while returning seniors, juniors and sophomores are looking to apply last year’s experiences to the coming year.

Hope everybody had a happy holiday season [Fourth of July, TSSAA dead period]. It’s back to work in the new year.

Could coach Cliff Ellis, the singer, play Lebanon

Saw a flier on a nearby desk promoting next week’s Jammin’ with the General on the square.

The Chessmen, featuring Wilson County’s Tommy VanAtta, will perform on the Square next Thursday and at the Wilson County Fair next month.

Their big hit was “How Sweet it is to be Loved by You”, which cracked Billboard’s top 40 in 1967.

For some unknown reason, it made me think of Cliff Ellis, who spent the summer of ‘67 as lead singer for a pop group called The Villagers, featuring the future Cumberland basketball coach and some of his undergrad buddies from Florida State.

They played frat parties and dance clubs and even cut a record or two, making the Southeast regional charts. One of their songs is called “Laugh It Off” and can be heard on YouTube. His voice sounds a lot different from when one talks to him today. Don’t know if it’s age or advanced microphones.

Ellis put down his mic when he graduated from FSU in ‘68 and began coaching basketball and teaching. He reached the junior-college ranks with a spectacular three-year run at Cumberland in the early ‘70s and has spent most of the last four decades in major colleges, including a combined 20 years or so at Auburn and Clemson. He is currently at Coastal Carolina.

Cliff sneaks back into Lebanon on occasion to visit old friends, most notably his Cumberland assistant, Boone Swain.

Wonder if the Jammin’ with the General organizers can get him to return to the Cedar City during the summer to play some of his old hits?

Just suggestin’.

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