A List of Reminiscing...
Well, it's New Year's Eve, the final day of 2008. Yes, I know, I'm asking "Already?!?" just you like may be doing. It seems like last month I was standing in Times Square in NYC for nine hours (without any food, drinks, or bathroom breaks) with five of my friends ringing in 2008. But here it is, the start of another year is less than 24 hours away.[caption id="" align="alignright" width="100" caption="My new logo"][/caption]
Now hopefully you have yet to bail on me because of that terribly mushy opening, and if you have I thank you. I'll get to my little list of what I'll most remember from the past year in sports in a minute, but first I need to say that I began this whole blogging thing back in June, when the looming monster of summer school was at my doorstep. When I started, I didn't really know what I was doing, and I wasn't sure how long I'd be blogging or any of that. I really enjoyed it at first, mostly the posts following the NBA Finals games and my amateur, yet rather extensive, coverage of the Rocky Top Summer League (yes, I skipped studying for tests and doing schoolwork to do those). However, at first I underestimated how much work blogging actually can be.
So when lawvol approached me (figuratively) about joining forces with him, it was a no-brainer. I have enjoyed writing here at the Gate and I just want to give some props to lawvol for having me on here and for helping me when I bug him about the simplest of issues. And of course thank you to yourselves, the readers (if you're still actually reading this). Who knows if my blogging will actually help the journalism career I'm hoping for/working towards/trying to gain experience for, but I've certainly enjoyed it and I'm glad I decided to begin with it.
OK, enough of those little bits of business, now onto this little list. This will be a little different than the other two I've done, as in I'm writing this, I'm not limiting myself to what pops into my mind when I think back of the past year in sports. I was able to narrow my hatred for Alabama down to five and the hope of the Vols' hoops season to 10, but this is a whole year we're talking here. I'll try to keep it as short as I can. Anyways, here goes...[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Thanks Coach"][/caption]
1) Good-bye and thank you Coach Fulmer: Well duh. The only Tennessee football coach I've pretty much ever known fell victim to a failed replacement of David Cutcliffe and the second losing season in the last four years. It's been the toughest year as a Tennessee fan I have been a part of by far, but it ended very sweet with the home win over Kentucky.[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="78" caption="CLK"][/caption]
2) Hello, Lane Kiffin: Fulmer's replacement has me excited, and I know I ain't the only one. Some are skeptical, but the Blackjack General (kudos, lawvol) has the fire that I think this program needs. He and his staff have plenty of work to do to return to the level of competing with Florida and the growing empire in Tuscaloosa, but so far, so good...[caption id="" align="alignright" width="100" caption="Champs"][/caption]
3) Being #1 for less than two days is still better than never being #1...: This goes way back to February, and the 66-62 #2-over-#1 win by Tennessee at Memphis. I had to cover/get audio for this game for the radio station sports show I was involved in last spring, and it was just fun to watch and see in person. That, and being in the middle of the aftermath right outside the locker room and on the FedEx Forum floor trying to be "professional" is undoubtedly a highlight of this past year.
4) 2008 SEC basketball champs: Need anything else be said? And to do it in Gainesville after getting blitzed in the first half was icing. I also covered that last home game against Carolina, so watching the whole net-cutting and t-shirt deal was a highlight.
5) Fan apathy: Honestly, this was probably the biggest factor to Fulmer's firing. I have made my thoughts on the student attendance and the whole paying for tickets well known through this site (try this). This video (I wouldn't dare actually post it) was the lowest point for me as a Tennessee fan in my life. I must admit, I left well before it, but I didn't want to be a apart of that. I commend you if you did...[caption id="" align="alignright" width="150" caption="Thanks Chris and JaJuan"][/caption]
6) Chris Lofton: Seeing this guy get to play in person for two years was a treat. Talk about a role model, he had cancer, didn't tell anyone for completely unselfish purposes, and still had a pretty good season and was an integral part of the SEC Title run for the Vols. I have his #5 jersey on my wall of my room in my apartment, and it will be hanging in TBA's rafters soon enough.
7) JaJuan Smith, too: Walk-on to nearly making the Mavericks. The best part of watching Juanny the past two years of college was that he made it look so fun. From his rainbow threes to pestering defense and occasionaly bonehead turnover, I'll never forget this guy and what he was to the Tennessee program.
Championship #8: I have to give Pat Summit and the Lady Vols some love. I never go to any of their games, but I do know they exist. That senior class dominated and Candace Parker, well, she's just awesome.
9) Eric Berry: The dude is just a BAMF. My four years of college may be four of the worst in Tennessee history, but at least I got to see this guy play. Seriously, he was reason enough to watch as the awful 2008 season went down the toilet. His pick-six against Mississippi State might have been the craziest moment of the student section this past year (yeah, indicating how bad the season truly was...). List of guys he almost killed in 2008: Tyler Donovan, Taylor Embree, Knowshon Moreno, Marquis Maze, and that's off the top of my head. If a team had 22 Eric Berrys, they would never lose. Maybe, just maybe, he'll like playing in Monte Kiffin's defense enough to stay for his senior year...[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="75" caption="Monte!"][/caption]
10) Monte Kiffin: Sweet! Most respected defensive coordinator in the NFL? Yes please.
11) The Streak: Tennessee has now won 37 straight home games in Thompson-Boling Arena. A couple of teams nearly broke it (Ole Miss, Kentucky, Belmont), but it's still going strong. I still have never left that arena having seen Tennessee lose. It was empty four years ago, now this streak. Could Gonzaga end it a week from tonight?
12) Construction: If you visited Knoxville this past year, you know what I mean. The stadium. Glocker. The Baker Center. Neyland. The TBA facelift. Lindsay Nelson. Heck, even I-40 has been closed since May...
13) Losses I witnessed in person: Louisville (Sweet 16 game in Charlotte), Florida, Auburn (nearly fell asleep in the third quarter), Alabama, Wyoming...
14) My love for the NBA: It gets a bad rap for the most part, but you can't tell me you're a true fan of the game of basketball and not like the NBA. Before this past season, I never really followed it other than the playoffs and the handful of Grizzlies games I saw in my high school days. Now, I just plain love it. These guys are ridiculous. I could watch LeBron James play every night. The Lakers-Celtics finals capped off an amazing playoffs and it's shaking up to be a great season this year too.
15) Wyoming: I saw them beat Tennessee 13-7 in Knoxville. They were 1-7 in the Mountain West and fired their coach. Ouch...
16) UCLA: Kevin Craft
is worse than me for Heisman! really wasn't as good as we made him look. The beginning of the end...
17) This play:
18) These dunks:
19) Redeem Team Wins Gold: The highlight of the Beijing Olympics for me. Yes, I watched every minute of every one of their games. They were not going to be denied and watching these guys play together and with a serious sense of urgency was well worth it. Thank you, LeBron, D-Wade, Kobe, CP3, Bosh, Howard, Boozer, D-Will, Melo, Redd, Tayshaun, Coach K and staff.[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Monte!"][/caption]
20) The tornado that almost killed me: I'm getting lazy, so just click here. If you're too lazy to do that,
you're worse than me I was in the Georgia Dome for the SEC Tournament when that tornado owned downtown Atlanta.
21) Michael Phelps: Second best part of the Olympics. The relay the U.S. stole from the trash-talking French and the race he won from nowhere had me up and yelling at the TV.
22) Scotty Hopson, Bobby Maze, Emmanuel Negedu, Renaldo Woolridge: They're only going to get better...
23) This NFL season: I don't get too pumped about pro football other than for fantasy purposes, but this was a fun season to watch. It came down to the end and I can honestly justify about six teams going all the way. Miami went from 1-15 to the playoffs and nobody's laughing at the Falcons now. And those drama queens in Dallas are watching it all...
24) Jerod Mayo: Any time a Vol gets drafted in the Top 10...and then dominates as a rookie, I'm pumped...
25) Shaun Ellis: This was just plain funny...
26) Tyler Smith and J.P. Prince: Two transfers are huge parts of Tennessee hoops in 2008 and going forward. Thanks to Tyler for his clutch makes against Ole Miss and Memphis State. This year's team is his team, and it took Prince hurting himself to make us see how important he is to this team.
27) The Olympics: Yeah, they were about all I watched for that two week stretch this summer.
28) VolQuest/Rivals: I can't lie, I have spent countless hours procrastinating and wasting time on the message boards. If you have done it too, you know their addictive powers...
29) Jonathan Crompton: Well, there's not much to say, but most of the Tennessee fanbase thinks he's the worst QB to ever wear orange. Hell, he couldn't even hand the ball off against Florida and Auburn. The Auburn game might have been the worst game ever played by a QB - my goodness was it ugly. When he entered the South Carolina after Nick Stephens threw an awful pick-six, ESPN showed his stats for the year - he had thrown for 666 yards. Yikes. Yet, that pass to Denarius Moore against Kentucky...reason for hope? I mean, he's got an equal chance of starting next year as the other QBs Tennessee has. I'm just saying...
30) And finally, Mario Chalmers: Tiger High/John Calipari = EPIC FAIL...
HAPPY 2009 TO YOU FROM US HERE AT GATE 21!!!
Images Courtesy of: Michael Patrick / KNS • Michael Patrick / KNS • volnation.com • coachsoffice.com • interbasket.net
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