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VOL. 130 | NO. 146 | Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Memphis Touchdown Club Scores With 2015 Speaker Lineup

By Don Wade

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Often, the lineup of speakers for the Touchdown Club of Memphis includes one or more coaches on the hot seat. But this season, University of Memphis coach Justin Fuente, Tennessee coach Butch Jones, Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze and Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen all are coming off strong seasons.

University of Mississippi head football coach Hugh Freeze will be in Memphis Aug. 24 to be the Touchdown Club’s guest speaker.

(AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

“It’s unusual,” said Touchdown Club of Memphis president Greg Cotton. “Any of those fans will tell you their teams are going to have a good year.”

Mississippi State and Memphis are fresh off 10-win seasons. The Tigers finished with a victory in the Miami Bowl, and Fuente now makes every college football list identifying young coaches on the rise.

“He has an opportunity to plant the flag, if you will,” Cotton said of the Tigers’ upcoming season, which includes an Oct. 17 home game vs. Ole Miss.

The Rebels are coming off a nine-win season; the Vols finished 7-6 and won the TaxSlayer Bowl.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the TDC, and the season kicks off on Monday, Aug. 17, when college football analyst Tony Barnhart will be the guest speaker. Most meetings, including the first, will be held at Chickasaw Country Club, 3395 Galloway Ave., and begin with a cocktail hour at 5:30 p.m. and dinner at 6:30. The program runs from 7 to 8 p.m.

“Mr. College Football,” Cotton said of Barnhart. “He’s always a good one. He did a good job last year of explaining the playoff system.”

Freeze is the guest speaker on Aug. 24.

On Sept. 28, former Alabama coach Gene Stallings, who won a national title with the Crimson Tide, returns as a speaker. The last time Stallings came, he was about three weeks removed from a knee replacement, Cotton said.

Storms had led to the cancellation of Stallings’ scheduled flight, so he hopped in his car in Fort Worth, Texas, and drove to Memphis that day.

“I think we’ll have a pretty good time.”

–Greg Cotton
Touchdown Club of Memphis

“He’s old school,” Cotton said. “I’ve heard him many times and he’s never told the same story twice.”

Fuente will speak on Oct. 5; Jones on Oct. 12; and former Ole Miss quarterback Archie Manning on Oct. 20. The father of Peyton and Eli Manning will be making his third appearance at the TDC.

Mullen speaks on Oct. 26 and Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson is the speaker on Nov. 16. On Dec. 10, the program shifts to the Hilton Memphis for the annual AutoZone Liberty Bowl Coaches Night when the head coaches from the SEC and Big 12 teams in the bowl game will be featured. The last meeting comes Dec. 14 when Alabama wide receivers coach Billy Napier is on the schedule.

Regular member dues for 2015 are $425 if paid by check, or $435 if paid online. “Early bird” discounts are available before Aug. 15. Guests are welcome on a space-available basis and may attend for a $60 fee. For more information, go to tdecmemphis.com.

Cotton, for one, can’t wait to get started.

“I think we’ll have a pretty good time.”

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