GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Furman officially kicks off its 2017 season and the Clay Hendrix era this Saturday when the Paladins make the short trip to Spartanburg to take on the Wofford Terriers in a 6:00 p.m. Southern Conference game at Gibbs Stadium.
The ESPN3 broadcast contest will mark the 91st renewal of the Deep South's oldest football rivalry, which began in 1889 and also included a pair of games in 1890 before Georgia and Auburn, who for years have claimed title to the Deep South's oldest rivalry, first met on the gridiron in 1892.
Hendrix's debut as the Paladins' mentor comes almost nine months after the 1986 Furman graduate assumed the helm of the program he served for 19 seasons (1988-2006) as an assistant coach in charge of the offensive line. During his time on staff the Paladins won a Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) national championship, six Southern Conference crowns, and made 11 FCS playoff appearances. He served as offensive line coach at Air Force Academy for 10 seasons (2007-16) before returning to his alma mater in December.
Hendrix was an All-South Carolina offensive guard and three-year letterman for the Paladins under head coach Dick Sheridan from 1982-85, and was a member of three SoCon title squads as a player.
"We're excited about getting the season started and going over there and playing the No. 11 ranked team in the country," said Hendrix on Monday. "Wofford has a very fine team, and coach Ayers has done a fantastic job with that program for many years. It should be a good game."
Furman, which is coming off a 3-8 campaign a year ago, returns eight starters, including four on both offense and defense, plus its kicker and punter. The Paladins were a preseason No. 7 pick in a poll of SoCon head coaches.
Wofford, meanwhile, was the coaches preseason pick to win the SoCon. The Terriers, who advanced to last year's FCS playoff quarterfinals, enter the season opener ranked 11th in polls conducted by STATS and FCS Coaches.
Furman leads the series against its oldest football rival, 53-30-7, but Wofford has won the last two meetings, including last year's 34-27 win in Greenville that snapped a streak of eight consecutive wins by the home team. The Paladins last won in Spartanburg in 2006.
The last time Furman and Wofford squared off in a season opener was 1936 in Spartanburg.
The radio broadcast of Saturday's contest will be carried over the Furman IMG Sports Network, headed up by flagship station Fox Sports 1440. It will also be streamed through FurmanPaladins.com and via the Tune-In and iHeart applications. Dan Scott, "The Voice of the Paladins", is set to deliver the play-by-play, and he will be joined in the booth by analyst David Cobb. Former Paladin defensive back standout Marcus McMorris returns to provide sideline reports.
Furman opens its home season on Sept. 9 against Elon in a 1:00 p.m. contest at Paladin Stadium.
Hunter Reid, Furman Sports Information