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The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee)
Imagine the possibilities. All 128 FBS coaches in one place, and a national television audience.
That's what we'll have in Nashville on Jan. 10, the Grand Ole Opry House filled with every program leader in the sport, including the two who played for the national title the night before - which means Nick Saban should be very ornery, unless he somehow doesn't end up winning it all and is downgraded to nuclear.
I'm guessing the first American Football Coaches Association awards show(8 p.m., CBS Sports Network) won't be exactly like the Oscars, but it will have star power (and more than a quarter of a billion dollars of annual salary in that room). For example, the best former Alabama offensive coordinator who went on to become head coach at Florida Atlantic will be on hand.
You know, Howard Schnellenberger, one of several legends expected along with Phillip Fulmer, Gene Stallings and Vince Dooley. But Lane Kiffin, the second-best former Alabama offensive coordinator to take over at FAU, is back in the head coaching game just in time - how about a "We Are the Champions" duet with Butch Jones?
Perhaps Jim Harbaugh and Saban can lead a little Jets vs. Sharks number with the Big Ten and SEC coaches. Mike Leach in a pirate uniform, P.J. Fleck rowing the boat, Derek Mason dropping the anchor, the possibilities are endless.
This brainchild of local media executive Greg Hill could be fun - and it will stress local, with Titans legend and former Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George hosting. Even if it's not quite as wacky as we'd like, it will count as the latest example of Nashville becoming one of this country's major sports hubs.
Our city has been a leader in music, entertainment and food, and the sports scene is getting there fast.
It's not just that the two pro franchises are trending upward, the Titans the most pleasant surprise in the NFL this season and the Predators an NHL Cup hopeful despite an uneven start. It's not just that the area is loaded with quality men's and women's college basketball teams.
It's the Sounds, too, offering a top-notch baseball experience at First Tennessee Park. It's the St. Jude Rock 'n' Roll Nashville Marathon, luring 30,000 runners each year.
It's soccer, with a USL franchise coming in and an ongoing push for an MLS team. On Monday came the announcement that Nissan Stadium will host a 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup doubleheader featuring the U.S. national team.
"An important step," said Butch Spyridon, president of the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp. "We've had plenty of friendlies, but this is our first truly competitive game that counts."
Nashville boasts the World Series MVP (Ben Zobrist), the American League's almost-MVP (Mookie Betts) and college football's national coach of the year (Colorado's Mike MacIntyre, formerly of Brentwood Academy and Vanderbilt).
Bridgestone Arena is in the third of 12 straight years of having the SEC men's or women's basketball tournament, and it hosted the women's Final Four in 2014 and is a men's NCAA first-weekend site in 2018.
This AFCA event is "really important for our city," George said, citing an expected 6,000 coaches overall who will attend the annual convention Jan. 8-11.
"This will be good for us on every level," Spyridon said of an event Nashville is working to land on a rotating basis from here. "Having it be a regular occurrence will be even better for us. This further solidifies our big-event and sports reputation."
The AFCA awards have been around since 1935 and have always been valued because the folks in the competitive arena do the choosing. But now with a TV show? How about Bret Bielema handing out awards in a Santa outfit? So many possibilities.
Follow Joe Rexrode on Twitter @joerexrode.
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