Archive for the ‘No Pass Out Checks’ Category

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No Pass Out Checks | Gate 21

Buy Erythromycin Without Prescription, Earlier this year, I was somewhat miffed at the Knoxville News-Sentinel’s Mike Griffith over his early-season criticisms of the BasketVols.  I felt that those criticisms—which were as candid as they were brutal—were misplaced.  At the time I felt that Griffith was premature in his biting critique of the Vols’ play.  I felt that the, then, 6-1 and No 10 ranked BasketVols were still just beginning to warm up.  I felt that he was putting the cart before the horse.

I take that back…

As was seen in the Vols’ utterly disappointing 81-65 loss to the Ole Miss Rebels, if anything, Griffith might have actually been a little too kind to the Vols when he assessed their performance back in December.  Lately, it has seemed that the Vols have been sliding further and further as the season progresses, raising concerns about where (or whether) this team will land in the NCAA Tournament.

After all, with their game against the Rebels presenting a chance to take control of the SEC East, there was plenty to play for…

Either way, the Tennessee Volunteers now find themselves sitting at 16-9 / 7-4 with games at Kentucky, at Florida, and at South Carolina in the next two weeks.  This after losing two of their last four games (Auburn being the other recent loss).  In terms of the Vols hopes of winning the SEC East, those are not exactly great odds.

What’s more, Mississippi didn’t just get lucky down the stretch, they beat the Vols in all of the four key areas of the game:

But enough of the doom and gloom.  The good news is that, miraculously, Tennessee is still tied for first place in the SEC East—again with Kentucky, Florida, South Carolina.  Thus, the importance of each win in the last five games of the season is amplified.  So there is a real chance for Tennessee to stretch its legs quickly and pull away from the pack.  Of course, each loss is equally as devastating in terms of conference standing. The peculiar thing is that, Erythromycin gel, ointment, cream, pill, spray, continuous-release, extended-release, Online buying Erythromycin, despite Tennessee having been mightily swatted by Kentucky—and in particular Jodie Meeks—in January, the Vols and the Wildcats actually matchup fairly evenly from a statistical perspective, online buy Erythromycin without a prescription. Buy Erythromycin from canada, As the chart below shows, Tennessee has been on a slight decline in the four key factors, Erythromycin description, Buy cheap Erythromycin no rx, but have—all things considered—held reasonably steady throughout conference play.

Of course, herbal Erythromycin, Erythromycin overnight, given the Vols’ inconsistencies over the last month, it remains to be seen whether they can manage to hold the line and man-up against Kentucky this Saturday.

I am sure Mike Griffith will be watching…

-- So it goes…About Lawvol

Charts / Stats Courtesy of:
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Buy Soma Without Prescription

No Pass Out Checks | Gate 21

As I discussed in Part 1 of this series on the cost of sports, at Tennessee, Soma cost, Purchase Soma for sale, the price can be high when it comes to paying your way into Neyland Stadium -- a truth of which Nashville's Thomas Luck is all too aware.  I discussed the issue purely in terms of the experience at Tennessee mainly because it is what I am familiar with.  Tennessee was but a lens -- the reality is largely the same at all schools with a major athletics presence.

The world of professional sports, however, comprar en línea Soma, comprar Soma baratos, Soma pharmacy, makes the college ranks look like small potatoes in the way it is wed to the almighty dollar.  Given the current uncertain economic times, however, order Soma no prescription, Soma interactions, I question whether professional sports in particular can continue in the way it has for so long.

I suppose that sports fans should not be surprised at the notion that professional teams would necessarily focus on money, after all that is what professional athletics are all about: getting paid to play.  I suppose Rod Tidwell (from the movie “Jerry Maguire) summed it up best with the oft quoted line "Show me the money!"  What I think is a bit surprising is how willingly and uncomplainingly professional sports fans have accepted the "money first" approach of all the teams in all the major leagues.  The increases in costs passed along to professional sports fans over the last generation is really quite staggering.

Video: Show me the Money!!

But don't take my word for it...

Fan Costs in Professional Sports

Sports marketing consultants Team Marketing Report (TMR) is a leading publisher of sports marketing and sponsorship analysis for both collegiate and professional sports.  Since 1988, where to buy Soma, Soma coupon, TMR has been tracking major indicators in the world of sports.  One of the key components of their analysis is an analytical model called the "Fan Cost Index" which is used as a measuring stick for the cost to an actual fan attending a game for various franchises.

More specifically, TMR's exclusive Fan Cost Index (TM) survey, Soma use, Soma blogs,   tracks the cost of attendance for a family of four.

The FCI includes:

  • Two adult average price tickets

  • Two child average price tickets

  • Four small soft drinks

  • Two small beers

  • Four hot dogs

  • Two programs

  • Parking

  • Two adult-size caps.

Taking all of these factors into account, the analysts at TMR calculate the costs for fans attending games for teams across the country.  The data that TMR has assembled is telling.

For example, what is Soma, About Soma, let's look at the NFL's presence in my home state: the Carolina Panthers.  The Panthers played their first season in Charlotte in 1996 (they played the 1995 inaugural season in the Clemson Tigers' stadium).  Thus, for Carolina we can see the change over the entire history of the franchise.  Since their first season in their permanent home, Soma forum, Cheap Soma, Bank of America (formerly Ericsson) Stadium, the Panthers have played in one Super Bowl.

Fan Cost Index: Carolina Panthers

  Beer Soft Drink Hot Dog Parking Program Cap Avg, purchase Soma online. Soma from canadian pharmacy, Ticket Avg. Prem, Soma treatment. Soma price, Ticket Fan Cost Index Cost Rank in NFL



























  Increase Since 1998
  Percentage Increase Since 1998

Then there's the just-crowned Super Bowl XLIII Champions: the Pittsburgh Steelers.  During the 10 years covered below, the Steelers have won two Super Bowls and moved into a new stadium, Soma duration, Online buy Soma without a prescription, Heinz Field.

Fan Cost Index: Pittsburgh Steelers

  Beer Soft Drink Hot Dog Parking Program Cap Avg. Ticket Avg, Buy Soma Without Prescription. Prem, Soma from mexico. No prescription Soma online, Ticket Fan Cost Index Cost Rank in NFL


















  Increase Since 1998
  Percentage Increase Since 1998

On the other hand, there's one of the biggest disappointments of the 2008 season: the New England Patriots.  During the 10 years covered below, buy Soma without a prescription, Soma use, the Patriots have won three Super Bowls and moved into a new stadium,  Gillette Stadium.

Fan Cost Index: New England Patriots

  Beer Soft Drink Hot Dog Parking Program Cap Avg, order Soma from United States pharmacy. Soma brand name, Ticket Avg. Prem, cheap Soma no rx. Ticket Fan Cost Index Cost Rank in NFL


















  Increase Since 1998
  Percentage Increase Since 1998

Key to notes on preceding Tables: b=14oz  c=16oz  e=20oz  g=22oz

• Source data for 1996 Buy Soma Without Prescription, , 1998, 2008 (PDF Document PDF), courtesy of: TMR.

These numbers show that, even in the smaller markets (which definitely includes Carolina and most would say includes Pittsburgh) there have been substantial increases in the cost of attending a game for the average fan.  What these statistics ignore, however, is the increasing impact of Personal Seat Licenses or PSLs on the cost of attending a game for individual fans.  Essentially, a PSL is the professional football equivalent of season ticket rights in college football.  The Average Ticket Price shown above reflects the average cost of a single game ticket available to the public for each team.  The fact is, however, in many of the NFL stadiums the number of generally available seats is wholly insignificant when compared to the number of seats licensed via PSLs.  In many cases, fans are left with only two choices: scalpers or buying a PSL.

PSLs are where the "Premium Ticket" costs referenced above come into play.

Again, let’s look at the Carolina Panthers, this time focusing on the Panther’s PSL program which, according to their website,  includes the following options:


[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="478" caption="Panthers PSL Options (Click to Enlarge)"]ab3b8e1ce4a756e5499f1d650558dd06[/caption]

Again, when compared to what you see with some major college sports venues, Panthers PSLs are not that expensive.  The Dallas Cowboys, who are preparing to open a grand new $1.3 billion stadium for the 2009 season, however, will charge as much as $150,000 for seat licenses.  As a point of reference, according to, the median home value for Knoxville, Tennessee is approximately $148,000.  In the modern era, there can be little question, in most markets, that professional sports tickets are aimed less and less at individual fans (or the "Common Fan" as Basilio calls them) and more toward businesses and corporations.  As a result, on gamedays many professional sporting venues are primarily peopled by business people engaged in the schmooze game than it is by fans actively pulling for their teams.

The Flip-side of a Very Big Coin

The cost of gate admissions, however, barely scratches the surface of the cost of operating a professional sports franchise.  In that sense, professional sports depend far less on the ticket-buying fan and more on other streams of revenue than do college athletics.  None of this, however, means that the costs of running professional franchises are not passed on to fans.  It just occurs indirectly.  The "real" money for professional sports lies in corporate affiliations, naming rights, licensing and marketing, government subsidies, and the end-all and be-all: television broadcast rights.

Make no mistake, without these key components, professional sports as we know them do not survive.  The irony is, however, that without the common fan, these components of the professional sports balance sheet evaporate.

Of course, some -- most notably the NFL -- contend that professional sports always have and will continue to be recession-proof. In a recent interview with CNBC’s Mark Koba, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy commented on the effects of the recession by stating: "If we could build a stadium for 300,000 people we would sell out the game. The Super Bowl has always lifted the spirits of America and this year is no different."  Others are far less sanguine.

As the Money Players blog notes, there are already strong indications that "the long-held notion that sports is 'recession proof' is being shattered."  The first signs of this change have already begun to become apparent.  Some minor professional franchises folded early in the onset of the current recession, but now the list of the affected is growing.  For instance:

These are but a few examples.

These sorts of "adjustments" on the part of major professional sports demonstrate that professional sports are not immune to recession.  That realization has gotten the attention of many sports-business watchers and has started a new conversation about the state of professional sports.

Said Andrew Zimbalist, a noted sports economist and professor of economics at Smith College:

... Ordering Soma online, fans tend to give up other consumption before they cut back their consumption of sports. The present downturn is, my Soma experience, Buy Soma without a prescription, however, both much more severe and likely to last considerably longer than the typical post-WWII recession, Soma from canadian pharmacy. Soma price, coupon, Moreover, the revenue-generating model in pro sports has been gentrified over the last 20 years, Soma pics, Rx free Soma, becoming more dependent on the sale of premium seating, corporate sponsorships, Soma recreational, Purchase Soma online no prescription, and catering — all expenditures likely to be more sensitive to economic conditions.

... What we do know is that the sports industry will reflect, buy Soma online cod, Is Soma addictive, perhaps with some moderation, the vicissitudes of the overall economy.

• via: Freakonomics

Steve Czaban, a syndicated host with Fox Sports Radio (which, along with Sports Illustrated and others, is itself currently clawing to remain solvent) believes that the market for sports will diminish substantially, unless major corporations are able to save themselves from collapse.   In a recent article by Wall Street Journal columnist Jonathan Last, Czaban noted, "The worst-case scenario, for example, for the NFL, is there's a dozen teams that can no longer sell out their home games."  The article notes that such a loss would create broadcast issues due to the NFL blackout rules for non-sold-out games. Said Czaban, "The U.S. government is buying banks, major retailers are going under, and a half-a-dozen newspapers are folding up shopWhy is it we think this could never happen to sports?"

As Andrew Zimbalist and others note, however, there is no real historical benchmark aside from the experience of Major League Baseball during the Great Depression.  During the early 1930's fan attendance dropped by as much as 40%, but no teams failed.  That begs two questions: 1) Is it possible that the same attendance drops could be on the horizon for major professional sports in the near future, and 2) if so, can they bear the financial strain of a reduced fanbase?

Of course, in the 1930's there was only one major sports league, college athletics were in their infancy and were largely localized, more importantly there was no television.

Television, in the minds of many, will be the savior of major sports in the current crunch, but there are those who question whether that is true.  In fact some assert that television might actually add to the erosion of revenues for sports -- professional and college alike.

The thought that television could add fuel to the already raging fire is a scary one, especially for professional franchises whose “help me, help you relationship with television has been a dependable source of revenue during even the most trying times.

Video: Help Me, Help You...

That is what I will look at in the next installment of this series...

-- So it goes …About Lawvol

Images Courtesy of: Panthers.comSteelers.comPatriots.comWikipedia

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The Cost of Sports — Part 1: Big Orange, Big Costs, Big Recession

No Pass Out Checks | Gate21

So how much is winning worth to you?

This is a question that many have asked and answered over the years.  The reality is that there is no right or wrong answer to this question—it is a personal matter, which really lives outside the confines of "categorical absolutes" and everyday reality.  We all have our limits.  Some are willing to go farther than others.  In the end, though, it is a question of conscience (or of getting caught).

That question is now being supplanted by a new consideration, one which is far more basic and fundamental, and which is bound by the world of reality.

How much are sports worth to you?

I say that this is now bound by reality due to headlines that have become all too common across the country over the last 12 months such as the one in my hometown paper earlier this week.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="350" caption="That's what you like to see first thing in the morning..."]N&O-01-27-09[/caption]

You hardly have to be a news wonk to realize that the economy is seriously in the crapper.  People from all walks of life are being forced to make changes in the way they spend their money and how they live their lives.  With all of the bad news about jobs being cut, investments tanking, and businesses going under many are being forced to cut back not out of thrift but necessity.

Most rational individuals faced with the predicament of making a mortgage payment with dwindling funds or even putting food on the table will usually start by cutting out the things they can live without, namely entertainment and recreation.

Over the past generation, the cost of attending or participating in sports as a fan has increased dramatically.  For example in 1995, the average cost for a ticket to a Carolina Panthers football game was $37.92, in 2008 that average had risen to $63.32, and the Panthers had the fourth lowest ticket prices in the league.  Of course those increases have not been confined to professional sports (which I will address in part 2 of this series).

While food and shelter are obviously not things that a body can go without, tickets to watch your favorite team play are.  That begs the question, is the horizon looking bleak for the financial feasibility and solvency of major sports as we have known them?

The fact of the matter is that, at present, everything and everyone in our society is reeling from the financial crisis that has struck the economy from Wall Street, to retailers, to real estate, to the Mom and Pop operation on the corner.   There is nothing that makes major sports immune from this economic catharsis (wow, I used “catharsis” in a sports blog post).  In fact, for the average person, sports is likely to be the first thing to go after poker and prostitutes (that’s more my usual tone).

I have been a season ticket holder for Tennessee Volunteers’ football for almost a decade now.  At present, I have the right to purchase two seats in Section Y7 of Neyland Stadium.  My seats are in the endzone.  They are by no means bad seats (well, Joel and Hooper at RTT agree with me), but they are anything but the best seats in the house.  But for the Jumbotron, I would not have much a view of happenings near the South Endzone, but I do get to see all the action when the "T" opens.  To continue to be able to purchase these seats, I am required to maintain my yearly donation to the Volunteer Athletics & Scholarship Fund, or VASF.  At the risk of showing my mania and getting flamed for wasting my money, this is how the purchase of my pair of seats shook out for the 2008 season:

Required VASF Donation
$ 1,200.00
Cost of Tickets
$ 630.00
Vol Cushions
$ 70.00
Handling Fee
$ 25.00
$ 94.00
Total Cost
$ 1,989.00
Number of Home Games
Cost per game
$ 284.14
UT 2008 Record
5 - 7
Cost per win
$ 397.80

These figures, do not take into account the costs associated with travel to and from games and other ancillaries.  For me, travel is a considerable cost—especially when gas is high—considering that I live about 6 hours from Knoxville.  These costs, however, fluctuate and it would be difficult for me to assess how much I actually spend on travel.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="530" caption="A = Home, B = Football. In between is a lot of driving..."]260c41d1a144ac53bdd61e9b069aa01a[/caption]

So there you go, I have shown the entire world that I am crazy…

I have been very fortunate in these trying times.  My profession (“graft, corruption, and you” a/k/a lawyering) has not suffered the fall-off that some have, but then again, there are a fair number of law firms that have not been immune to the pressures.  I personally have not been faced with the choice between dropping my tickets or meeting my financial obligations.  As is well known by just about anyone with a pulse,  however, other individuals (as in real people with jobs, families, and lives) have suffered huge financial setbacks in the form of lost income, the mortgage crunch, disintegrating 401k assets, company closures, and layoffs.  Though the government has proposed yet another stimulus package (which MoonDog is not impressed with), like Circuit City, the vast majority of companies on the national landscape are notThe Big Three” and do not get government bailouts.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="265" caption="This message brought to you by the UAW."]Big-3-Bailout-SSS[/caption]

Still, even in the best of times, my football addiction has always been a bit of a sacrifice.  If faced with the choice between Tennessee football or putting food on the table, however, it’s not hard to figure out what the choice would be.

Now, the VASF is in the middle of one of the biggest development campaigns in its history.  To fund the renovations to Neyland Stadium, the athletic department needs to raise money—big stinkin’ piles of money.  At last count, the price tag for renovations is expected to be around $ 200 million dollars—about twice what was originally projected.  From a fan perspective, I will be the first to admit these renovations were sorely needed.  Parts of Neyland Stadium are approaching 90 years of age, and … well … it was showing.  The renovations thus far have been outstanding, and the most recently updated version of the Neyland Stadium Master Plan (PDF Document pdf) looks like it will be fabulous when completed (I’m especially digging the new look for the Real Gate 21).

To fund all of this, a variety of club-seating and luxury box offerings have been integrated into the renovations.  Take for example the new Tennessee Terrace seating option which, I must confess, I was interested in until I saw the cost.

Starting in 2010, the west upper deck of Neyland Stadium will look entirely different than it does now.  The new Tennessee Terrace will include around 1,500 chair-back “club-style” seats, an enclosed (e.g. heated and cooled) “members only” concourse, and other perks.  It’s going to be really nice.


A few promotional images of the Tennessee Terrace. (Click to enlarge)

"Nice," however, comes with a hefty price tag…

Just to get the chance to buy Tennessee Terrace seats, a donor will be required to make an initial “capital gift” of $1,000 up front followed by an additional capital gift of $1,000 paid over 4 years (this second capital gift is currently being waived or reduced if you apply “early” for seats).  Thereafter, to maintain the right to buy tickets in the Tennessee Terrace the donor must make an annual donation of $3,000 … per seat.  Then, the donor gets to buy their tickets at face value.  So, assuming tickets at the current cost (which UT did announce would not increase in 2009) the total cost of two seats for the first season the Tennessee Terrace is open would be $6,630, without even taking into account the $1,000-$2,000 one-time capital gift.  On a game per game basis that computes out to $473.57 per seat, per game (and, yes, donors are required to purchase tickets in even-number increments).

This, however, is nowhere nearly as costly as the West or East Club Seats.  Two seats in the West Club Seats—which are currently being constructed—can cost as much as $100,000 over 10 years followed by a $10,000 a year annual donation.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="465" caption="Current Construction on the West Club Seats"]image[/caption]

Of course, not everyone needs the added cost of a luxury box—as long as you get to walk through the Real Gate 21, you get to see the game.  The problem is that there really isn’t a “budget” package when it comes to Tennessee football tickets.  This is made clear by the 2009 Donor Benefit Chart recently released by the VASF.

[caption id="attachment_2743" align="alignright" width="150" caption="2009 VASF Donor Benefit Chart"]2009 VASF Donor Benefit Chart[/caption]

By my math (which is often highly unreliable) the cheapest a fan could pick up a pair of season tickets for the eight homes games scheduled for the 2009 season would be approximately $820, which includes a $100 donation.  That would be for seats in the South Endzone Upper Deck (not exactly the best in the house).  Of course, all of that is contingent upon enough tickets being available.  Experience says that tickets would not be available at the $100 donation level.  Traditionally, a $500 donation is the minimum necessary to guarantee the right to buy season tickets under the VASF point system, which would raise the total cost to approximately $1220, again for the South Endzone Upper Deck (the Jumbotron would be behind you) nosebleed seats.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="320" caption="The View from the Nosebleeds"][/caption]

Well, at least you could look out at Lake Loudon if you wanted, so there’s that…

Oh, and did I mention that the Neyland Stadium renovations are only one of many projects Tennessee has ongoing, projected or has just completed.  Other projects include the recent renovations to Thompson-Boling Arena and Lindsey Nelson Stadium, as well as the construction of Pratt Pavilion, Allan Jones Aquatic Center, the Regal Cinemas Soccer Facility, and the McKenzie Lawson Athletic Center to name a few.  There are a lot of major projects and expenses (PDF Document pdf) that the athletic department has been undertaking and which donors have been funding.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to flame the athletic department for all of these new high priced seating options, or for the cost of tickets in general.  I understand what it takes to fund a program like Tennessee’s, but I do wonder how far the seemingly endless gravy train can go before it runs out.  A few years ago, I’d have said never.  In light of the current economic circumstances, I am beginning to wonder.

I am wondering not because I think the zeal of Tennessee fans is waning.  On the contrary, given what we have seen since Lane “the Blackjack General” Kiffin was named head coach, I think there are a whole lot of things about which Big Orange fans can be excited.  I do, however, question whether the dedicated and die-hard stalwarts of the Orange Nation, can afford to be a part.  I realize it costs a small fortune to maintain the Tennessee athletic program—a staggering $86,502,857 for fiscal year 2007-08 according to the UT Athletic Department Annual Report—and I understand why.  Paying coaches, maintaining and developing facilities, providing scholarship funds for the student-athletes, and a bevy of other costs add up very quickly.  Of course, it is worth remembering that Tennessee is not alone: a similar set of circumstances is playing out at schools all across the SEC and the rest of the country.

Again, I am not trying to criticize, but simply raising a question: given the circumstances under which we currently live, can the current revenue stream that funds sports be expected to continue into the future?

Of course, Tennessee and the other college sports powers have nothing on professional sports when it comes to being a high ticket item.

That, however, will have to wait until Part 2 of this series

-- So it goes…About Lawvol

Images Courtesy of: Raleigh News & Observer / / VASFGoogle MapsSmash South SportsGridscape’s Virtual Neyland

The uglier side of the coaching carousel…

No Pass Out Checks | Gate21

Well, in case you were so overcome with joy at the news that “Kiffin the Elder” (a/k/a “The Full Monte) would be joining Coach Kiffin next Fall in Knoxville—and I can completely understand why you might be—the news out of Auburn is much less pleasant.

Apparently, “War Eagles” are cannibals because at present, the Auburn Tigers are voraciously eating their own…

First of all, I want to make it absolutely clear that I am not purporting to offer any thoughts on whether Gene Chizik was a good hire from a “football” perspective.  First, aside from my remembering that Chizik was on the Auburn staff as a defensive coordinator in the 2004-ish era, I really don’t know enough about the man’s essentials to assess him one way of the other.  I have never been (nor do I plan to become) a devoted follower of the Iowa State Cyclones either, thus I also lack the knowledge to weigh whether Chizik’s 5-19 record as the head coach in Ames really means that much or not.

Second, as a Tennessee fan, I have little room and even less desire to point out the shortcomings of other programs at this particular point in time (“ahem… pot, meet kettle”)…

Third, I don’t have to really even get into the substance of Chizik’s qualifications to realize that all hell has broken loose on the Plains.

There are some very restless natives in Auburn.

Since Gene Chizik’s announcement as the new head coach, the Tiger faithful have literally declared a civil war on a scale which boggles the mind and confounds reason.  The only reaction I have been able to draw thus far is that, based purely upon the reaction of the fans, alumni, and talking heads—completely irrespective of his abilities—Gene Chizik is going to have a very tough time winning at Auburn.

The reason for this is that, with the exception of Auburn AD Jay Jacobs, and perhaps Kirk Herbstreit, there appears to be no one among the Tiger faithful who is, was, or believes that they will ever be happy with this hire.  Of course, this is an understatement of prodigious proportions—somewhat akin to saying that GM is undergoing a “minor financial adjustment” or that Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has made some “unpopular decisions.”  Only two words accurately describe the situation among the Aubies:

Cataclysmic Meltdown.

For example, listen to the guy ranting and raving in the background as Jay Jacobs returns to Auburn after sealing the deal with Chizik over the weekend.

Jay Jacobs Gets a Welcome Back to Auburn

Wow, now that is some serious fan support!

Now, mind you this is occurring before the official announcement has even been made.  This was not, however an isolated incident.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="This pretty much sums up the thoughts in Auburn"]This pretty much sums up the thoughts in Auburn[/caption]

Over at Track ‘em Tigers, the reaction was enough to induce vomiting (you simply have to read through some of the comments), and I am pretty certain that a few of the commenters have since committed suicide.  In particular, the guy who wrote this letter:

Mr. Jacobs

I have no words to express how I feel about the hiring of Chizik as the head football coach at Auburn University. How can anyone be this devoid of wisdom. I have been an Auburn fan for 40 years. I went to school during the Barfield years for goodness sake. During this entire period I have never once even considered wavering in my allegiance to Auburn.

As of now I will turn in my tickets. (scholarship) I will not send another dime of support to the University, and I will join all efforts towards the removal of you and everyone else involved in this ridiculous hire.

You and Dr. Gogue may think you can sit in your ivory towers protected by the powers that be, (and you know to whom I am referring) but you forget Auburn is a grassroots university. Hard working men and women made Auburn the great university it is today. I hold fast to the belief that it is the spirit that lives in these same men and women which will cause us to band together and throw you and the rest of your crowd out on your ears.

It cannot happen soon enough!!!!

• via: Track ‘em Tigers — WarEagle99

The comments over at’s Gold Mine Blog were fairly similar in their lack of … excitement.  My personal favorite was:

Excuse me while I go take down generations of Auburn memorabilia and burn my diploma.

• via: — BigBlueHey

Of course, we all know that comments are often submitted in the heat of the moment, and are less than well thought out—I’m as guilty of that as anyone.  The bad news is that, by and large, even the cooler heads have shown strong misgivings at the hiring of Chizik.  One such “cooler head” is that of Will Collier at From the Bleachers who writes:

All that stuff about "don't panic" and "they sky is not falling" and "Auburn will hire a good coach?" Never mind all that. Dogs and cats are, in fact, living together in the luxury suites of Jordan-Hare Stadium.

* * * * *

Gene Chizik is almost certainly the worst candidate interviewed during this utter farce of a coaching search. He is a poor recruiter who has completely failed to date as a head coach. Chizik's own friends in the coaching community openly scoff at the idea of him being a head coach for a major program.

For Auburn's program, he will be the equivalent of Mike DuBose, although hopefully without the cheating.

* * * * *

I don't say this lightly, but, Fire Jay Jacobs. And while you're at it, fire his buddy Tim Jackson, who inexplicably was invited along for the interviews, despite the fact that Jackson is Auburn's... ticket manager. That makes as much sense as asking a halfwit greenskeeper to sit in on interviews for a corporate CEO.

• via: From the Bleachers

Two more particularly well done pieces can be found at The War Eagle Reader and The Pigskin Pathos as well as some ranting and raving from A Lifetime of Defeats.

All of this begs the question, when does exercising your constitutionally (and in my opinion morally) protected “bitching license” leave you in the proverbial Catch-22?  It seems to me that even if Gene Chizik were the second coming of Vince Lombardi or (to put it more into context) Shug Jordan, that he is now doomed to fail.  In other words, no matter how good he is as a coach, he is already disliked by the fanbase before a single down of football has been played.  I understand that the Auburn faithful are not happy with the hire, and that many feel Tommy Tuberville was essentially fired for no good reason, but at the end of the day if you are an Auburn fan, if you don’t rally around your new coach, it is all but assured that the program will implode for at least 2-5 years, if not more.

Fortunately for Auburn, some of those in the blogosphere have recognized this, including Joe Cribbs Car Wash and Fields of Donahue who writes:

Alright, our new head coach is Gene Chizik.

We're not happy.

It sucks.

The only thing to do now is support him. I don't care if he was miserably bad at Iowa State. He is our coach now, and we need to get behind him…

• via: Fields of Donahue

I feel for the Auburn folks.  The Tennessee Volunteers are just coming out of the gloom of what is, without question, the single most difficult football season I’ve ever lived through.  All season long Orange Nation spent a great deal of time ripping one another to shreds before Smiling Mike Hamilton and the Great Punkin finally quieted things.  Like it or not, at least Smiling Mike had the decency and good sense to address the issue with Fulmer in as transparent and public a manner as was probably possible.  That helped start the healing process, and probably accounts for the general sense of excitement surrounding the ascendancy of the Blackjack General as Tennessee’s new football coach, despite the fact that many still have questions about his experience.  That is also precisely why Auburn AD Jay Jacobs is currently public enemy number one down on the Plains.  Still the situations are really not all that dissimilar.

That’s the odd thing.  From where I am sitting—from a purely “factual” perspective—both Tennessee and Auburn are looking at largely untested and unknown head coaches putting on their headsets next fall.  The only difference is that Tennessee is doing everything it possibly can to help boost their new skipper to success, while it seems that Auburn is obliterating every possible chance for their new hire to enjoy the same.  Both men have a tough road and a lot of work ahead of them, but—as things currently stand—it would appear that Kiffin has a much better chance of success simply because the fanbase is uniting behind him.

Right now, I am really appreciating Smiling Mike…

Hopefully, the Tennessee fans out there who are quick to attack will pay attention to this debacle at Auburn and learn.  Sometimes you have to come together, sometimes you have to put differences aside, sometimes you have to bite your tongue.  That is what it means to be part of a team or, as I have described it, a family.  Establishing a tradition always requires unity and sacrifice.

Learn from this, Orange Nation, lest you follow the Tigers down that bitter primrose path…

-- Go Figure …Email lawvol

Image Courtesy ofJoe Cribbs Car Wash

Who is Smarter, Smiling Mike or Bea Arthur? (or A Few Belated Comments on the Hiring of Coach Kiffin)

No Pass Out Checks | Gate21

Alright, I admit I have been a little absent and not just a little bent out of shape over the fact that I have been completely unable to post anything of substance lately due to my “real” job as an evidence manipulation specialist (lawyer).  Hence my last post.  What’s more, this has been a very exciting week for fans of the Big Orange, as Tennessee named Lane Kiffin its new head football coach.  Despite all of the fanfare, I spent my week in a courtroom, and failed to get a single decent comment out in a timely fashion.

Again, hence my last post…

That said, after watching a few video clips, most notably the one below, I am feeling much more relaxed and much happier.  Why?  Because, I am beginning to think that maybe Smiling Mike has done it again.

Lane Kiffin’s First Press Conference as Tennessee Head Football Coach

I’ll be the first to admit, Lane Kiffin wasn’t the number one name on my list—but make no mistake he was on it.  Still, in the back of my mind I wondered “is Mike Hamilton rushing into things?  I just don’t know if I would have been in such a rush.”

Then I remembered two key things:

  1. I picked the Auburn Tigers to win the SEC West and the Tennessee Volunteers to finish second in the SEC East this year; and
  2. Bruce Pearl.

Those two realizations gave me a moment of pause and suddenly gave me real confidence in the decision to hire Lane Kiffin as the head football coach at Tennessee.

The first point reminded me that I am a moron and that my skills as a prognosticator and student of college football are about as reliable as Eric Locke was as a receiver (or kick returner, or cheerleader, or ditch digger, or…).  Furthermore, it reminded me that there is an awful lot of guesswork in the business or picking coaches.  Which led me to point number two.

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="271" caption="Smiling Mike dares you to make fun of his shirt"][/caption]

As I wrote some time ago while serving as a stand-in guest writer over at Joel’s venerable pillar of the Fifth Estate, on the day Bruce Pearl was introduced as Men’s Basketball coach the first thing I asked myself was “who the hell is Bruce Pearl?”  Well, suffice it to say that I now know who Bruce Pearl is, and I’m pretty sure the rest of the basketball loving inhabitants of the country do now as well.  The point is this: love him or hate him, over the last few years Mike Hamilton has shown an uncanny ability to find coaches about as well as anyone in the world of college sports, and as a result, I’m willing to trust his decision.

I think Hamilton has earned that.

Furthermore, what I have seen so far from Coach Kiffin (does kind of have a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?) has thoroughly impressed me.  The video above was especially telling for me.  Why?  Because Kiffin does not talk about “the passion of Tennessee’s fans” or “the tradition they have here.”   No, instead—about ten minutes after he was named head coach—he comments on “the passion of our fans” and “the tradition we have here.

I know, I know, I’m sure the folks in the Sports Information office reminded him to project that message, but you know what, it seemed pretty sincere to me…

I realize taking “ownership” verbally is a small detail—one which can be overstated—but it impressed me.  I honestly expected the typical “NFL-style” quasi-corporate speech about future, direction, and leadership.  I expected his opening foray with the press to be far less personal than it was.  Given my concerns that the “family” aspect of Tennessee football might fade away with the departure of the Great Punkin, this really did my heart good.  It also made it clear that Coach Kiffin understands that we happy few, we band of brothers, who wear the Orange are sort of “into” that whole “Tradition” thing.

All I can say is that I first looked at the hiring of Coach Kiffin with a lot of hope and expectation, and a near equal amount of concern and reticence.  After seeing how he has handled himself so far, it’s fair to say that I have been impressed.

Yeah, I’ve got me a great big pitcher of the proverbial Kool-Aid, and I’m chugging it down through a garden hose…

I guess that is why I felt led to say hello to Coach Kiffin visually—in the header here at the Gate—rather than simply saying “Oh, um, yeah we got us a coach.”

No matter what I may have thought about the past, I am pretty convinced that Coach Kiffin is the the right man to guide Tennessee into the future.

Which leads me to the seemingly inane title of this post.

I will be the first to admit that I am not a huge fan of professional sports and while I typically follow the NFL playoffs in a limited sense, I can hardly be said to keep up with the league.  There are a lot of reasons for this, but the end result is that I am often less than informed when it comes to the guys that play on Sunday.  Thus, the only real understanding I had when it came to Coach Kiffin was that he had been fired as head coach of the Los Angeles … err … OaklandLos Ang … Los Oaklesland Raiders mid-season.  I didn’t really hold this against him, because I realize how fickle NFL owners can be.  Furthermore, I hardly felt like I had enough background knowledge to really even understand why he was fired (I had to check just to confirm whether the Raiders were in Los Angeles or Oakland this year).

Still, I knew that something hadn’t worked out the way it had been planned…

Then, I stumbled upon this little jewel:

Al Davis on the Firing of Lane Kiffin

This video really confirmed a few things for me:

  • The Raiders will never win much of anything until that nut-job of an owner they have gives it up;
  • Anytime a coach is fired and respected journalists write things like this, it’s probably not the coach’s fault the team is sucking the tubes:

Al Davis’ once-proud franchise has won 19 games since appearing in the 2002 Super Bowl (or one more than the Patriots won in 2007) and better days seemed even more remote in January. That’s when the modest momentum built under new head coach Lane Kiffin in 2007 was flushed when it was learned Davis wanted Kiffin gone because Kiffin wanted to, ya know, coach the team…

-- Tom Curran | NBC Sports

  • Coach Kiffin’s record as an NFL head coach is of little concern to me considering the situation he inherited; and
  • Bea Arthur really should stop wearing those silly black leather jackets and sweatshirts when giving press conferences.
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="232" caption="Al Davis?"][/caption]

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="353" caption="Bea Arthur?"][/caption]
So, is Betty White currently the defensive coordinator for the Raiders, or is it one of the other Golden Girls?

Anyway, the point of this rambling post is simply to say, that I am thrilled to have Lane Kiffin on board as the newest member of the Tennessee family.  So far, I have been amazingly impressed with the way he has jumped in headfirst at Tennessee.  Most of all, however, I am happy with how he seems to really want be at Tennessee as opposed to simply biding his time.

Of course, I realize that he has not yet completed his first full week as head coach.  Still, all I can say is that—so far—it seems like Smiling Mike Hamilton may have gotten it right…again!

Either way, Coach Kiffin, I mean it sincerely when I say “Welcome to the Family!”

Oh yeah, and, Go Vols!

-- Go Figure …Email lawvol

Images Courtesy of: Knoxville News SentinelSA BlogsBroadwayWorld.comNBC Sports / Getty Images

Phillip Fulmer’s Final Tennessee Waltz

No Pass Out Checks | Gate21

I remember the night of the Tennessee Waltz.  Now I know just how much I have lost…

Once again we find ourselves staring the end of football season in the face, but this one is different.

Today Tennessee says goodbye to Phillip Fulmer…

Phillip Fulmer has been the head coach of the Tennessee Volunteers at all but one of the more than 100 games I have attended since my very first game in the early 1990s.  I have such conflicted feelings about today.  I essentially said my “goodbye” to Coach Fulmer a few weeks ago in my post “Goodbye, Charlie Brown…”.  In that post, I finally explained to the world why it is that I have always called him the Great Punkin—not as an insult, but as a matter of personal respect.  I pretty much summed up my feelings for Coach Fulmer as a man and as Head Coach.

Needless to say, I have immense respect for Fulmer…

Today is the final “Tennessee Waltz” for Coach Fulmer.  Though I think most will agree that the Volunteers’ performance on the field could have been far better this year, Fulmer’s departure marks a turning point in the history of Tennessee athletics.  This season has been terribly difficult for Tennessee fans—not so much as a result of the wins and losses, but because of the divisions between the fans over where it is the program should be headed.  I think Joel at RTT is right, this is the Season of Constant Sorrow.  There is no joy in seeing a man who has served the University of Tennessee so honorably and steadfastly for over 30 years be forced out.

For me, this is a sad day—I dread the thought of Coach Fulmer running through the T for the final time.  I hate the thought of those last seconds ticking off the clock.  It pains me to think that the next time we all meet again, there will be a different leader of the Big Orange Nation.  I also feel that when that gathering occurs, next Fall, something will be missing.  We will no longer be the family that we once were.

All of this is, of course, compounded by the fact that—for reasons which are beyond my control—I am unable to be in Knoxville today.  I will be relegated to watching the game on television and saying my goodbye from afar.

Like Will at SESB, I honestly do not know what to say—nothing is appropriate, or fitting.

All I can say to Coach Fulmer, is what I have already said:  Thank You, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Thank you for guiding the Vols to an SEC Championship, then another, then to a National Championship.  Thank you for always honoring the institution that you represent.  Thank you for being a wonderful representative for the alma mater that we both share.  Thank you for your integrity, your class, and your example.

Most of all, thank you for your humanity.  I have always been so proud to know that you were not just another football CEO.  I for one appreciate the fact that you have always let the world know that you are human and, yeah, every single loss hurts.

Thank you for always understanding that Tennessee football is not just about wins and losses, it is so much more than that.  It’s about sons and fathers, mothers and daughters.  It’s about big dreams and hopeful expectancy.  It’s about a connection between generations and a tie to a shared pastime.  It’s about devotion, loyalty, respect, family, and friends.  It’s about looking back on the days spent on the Hill.  It’s about a beautiful East Tennessee afternoon, the Smoky Mountains framing the sky with their majesty.  It’s about camaraderie, it’s about a shared experience.  It’s laughing, it’s crying, it’s living a memory, it’s hoping for the future, it’s about dreams, and it’s about spending a few minutes in this frenetic existence just savoring the colors and sounds of life.  It’s something that keeps all of us coming back for more and it’s something that simply defies description.

It’s not just a game, and it never will be.

It’s about life, it’s about love, and it’s about being part of something bigger than any one person could ever be alone.  It’s about history and things to come.

Thank you, Coach Fulmer for always honoring these truths and for making all of us proud.

I have such hope for the future, but for now, I am sad, as Coach Fulmer’s “Tennessee Waltz” comes to a close, and an era ends for the University of Tennessee.  Though Tennessee will undoubtedly win many more games in the future, the Tennessee family will never be quite the same as it has been.  It is exciting to think of what it will be like next year—what the future holds—but there will be time for that later.

Today is Coach Fulmer’s day.

I so wish I could have made it to Knoxville today for the game—to be part of the masses in giving Coach Fulmer his day.  That, unfortunately was simply was not meant to be, and thus I will have to thank him from afar.

Still, despite my distance, as the Phillip Fulmer era comes to a close, I encourage everyone who loves the Orange to take a moment of pause as you enter the stadium, as you take your seat, as you settle in to watch the game on television or listen on the radio—take just a moment and reflect.  Take just a moment and thank Coach Fulmer in your own way for always working so hard to make us proud to wear our orange.

Along with wanting to be in Knoxville today, I had also intended on putting together a tribute video for Coach Fulmer, but due to the fact that I have been forced into another trial starting on Monday, I was simply unable to get it put together in time.  For that, I am sorry.  Thus, all I can offer is this small token of my appreciation, which I was able to get together in the time I had.

Phillip Fulmer's Final Tennessee Waltz | Gate 21

(Note: as of the time of this post, the video above was still being processed by YouTube.  It should automatically appear once that process is completed.)

I wish I had something more profound, more “weighty,” more poignant to say to express my thanks to Coach Fulmer, but words fail.

Thus, I’ll simply thank Coach Fulmer for giving so much to all of us, for working so hard to make the Vols shine, and for never wavering in his dedication to Tennessee.  I wish him all the best in his future endeavors.

Coach Fulmer, I—and so many others—will never forget your Tennessee Waltz…

-- Go Figure …Email lawvol

Goodbye, Charlie Brown… (Lawvol’s Thoughts on Coach Fulmer’s Departure)

No Pass Out Checks | Gate21

If you have read any of my posts over the last year, you will quickly learn that I have made it my habit to refer to Tennessee Volunteers’ head coach Phillip Fulmer as “the Great Punkin.”  To some, this may seem an insult—some thinly veiled comment on Coach Fulmer’s girth.  This simply is not the case.  Yes, the “Punkin” part does owe to the fact that Fulmer favors wearing Tennessee orange, beyond that, however, the name takes on a more personal (and probably less self-evident) character.  The “Great Punkin” nickname was always—and for me will always—be a term of endearment.

To me, Phillip Fulmer will always be like Charlie Brown…

Charlie Brown is the quintessential nice guy.  Everybody likes Charlie Brown and Charlie Brown likes everybody. He is the proverbial “fuddy-duddy” who has a bit of a pessimistic outlook on life, but at the end of the day believes in the hope of the future—he always keeps trying to kick that football, no matter how many times Lucy pulls it out from underneath him.  For the same reason, he is always a hard worker.  Charlie Brown is forever loyal to his friends (again, despite Lucy constantly pushing his buttons).  These are apt descriptors for Phillip Fulmer.

More importantly, Charlie Brown represents innocence and a healthy amount of naivete'characteristics which have always been present in the world of Tennessee football, but which now are forever gone…

One of the things that first brought me into the fold as a fan of the Volunteers was the sense of community, the sense of family.  Tennessee football began, for me, as an experience of camaraderie, belonging, competition, and unified purpose.  What amazed me that first time I ever set foot inside Neyland Stadium in 1991, the first time I ever walked through the old Gate 21, was the fact that this massive throng of people—then 95,000 strong—could be so united behind a single purpose.  The fans I saw in the stadium that Fall day came from all walks of life, all sorts of backgrounds, all sorts of situations—yet, they were united.  For those few hours, they were a great big (and loud) family.  I have personally gathered together with that family, and attended Tennessee games, 110 times since 1991.  Phillip Fulmer has been the head coach walking the sidelines for 109 of those games.

In my mind, since 1992, Phillip Fulmer was the head of that family…

I had the chance during the 2002 season to have season tickets which were directly behind the visitors’ bench on about the 10th row.  That year, I sat beside a gentleman who had been sitting in the same seats since the 1960s.  He told me that, prior to Tennessee moving the home bench to west sideline, it was not uncommon for the coaching staff to come over and chat with fans before, after, and even during games.  That is the sort of relationship-based existence that has been associated with Tennessee football throughout its history.  It has always been “ours”—something belonging to the family of Big Orange fans.  Thus, it was always fitting that “this thing of ours” should be led by one of our own—a lifelong member of the family who can be traced back to the first: General Neyland.

Phillip Fulmer has always been a member of that family…

Now make no mistake, this family can be difficult, unruly, and fickle.  This family can get into fights and can band together in factions.  Still, the leader of the family is responsible for gently chiding the wayward children, righting the ship, and keeping “our thing” going.  Once Johnny Majors left, that thing began to take on different look, as Tennessee began trying to be more “polished” for the national media.  The program became more “corporatized” and began to value money more than it had in the past.  Throughout the Fulmer years, money became a larger and larger part of the decision-making process, took over as the primary driving force, and grew into the engine that drove the program.  Still, no matter how much the financial side of the program grew in its importance, I always felt that Fulmer still managed to keep some semblance of the family feeling in the program.  He was always accessible, always fan focused, and never shirked a reasonable autograph or picture request.

In his own way, the Great Punkin was watching over us all…

Now, I am not naive enough to ignore the fact that Fulmer made millions of dollars as head coach, that the business of football was always king at Tennessee, and that—even if the fans hated it—a change which was going to increase earning for the program was a change that was going to happen.  I understand that it is a numbers game: numbers of fans, numbers of recruits, numbers of wins, numbers in the bank account.  I know all of this.  Still, despite this reality, I always felt that Fulmer was sincere in his service to the university, the fans, the alumni, and the State of Tennessee.  Sure, Phillip Fulmer wanted a multi-million dollar paycheck at the end of the year, but it always seemed to me that he would have still been the coach at Tennessee even if the pay was much less grand.

I remember the first time I met him.  Fulmer came by to give a “thank you” speech to the Pride of the Southland at 6:30 am prior to day three of our pre-season camp in August of 1994.  I was an in-coming freshman.  The only people on campus at that point were the football team and the marching band.  Now, I realize that he was probably—in some limited sense—obligated to show up and thank the band geeks for doing their thing in opening the “T” and playing Rocky Top ad nausem.  I say that because the day before the Big Dickey had come by to give his speech which was … well … less than inspiring (and, no, “Big Dickey” is not a term of endearment).  Fulmer’s speech, was far more sincere than I ever imagined it could be.  Fulmer told us how important the traditions of the Pride were to the team and to the University of Tennessee.  Whether he actually meant it or not, he made me believe that he felt our hard work was important to him.  I can honestly say that I was inspired.  After his speech, he hung around and chatted with members, signed some autographs, and then just hung-out at the side of the field for a while—leaning against the fence—watching us practice.  There were no cameras there.  There were no big-money donors to be seen.  There were no PR events on that early morning.  It was just a bunch of band kids, graduate assistants, directors, and the Great Punkin, checking in on how things were going.

Oh, and he followed that speech up with ongoing efforts to make sure the athletic bands had the financial resources to get us to away games comfortably, by urging the Big Dickey to fund the Pride of the Southland’s efforts (as a reference point, it cost nearly $300,000 to send the entire Pride of the Southland to the Georgia game in 1994).  Once, on one of the many occasions when Dickey didn’t particularly think the Band was worth the cost, Fulmer just told him “You need to give ‘em the money they need, because we need them…

Yeah, I am a fan of the big guy…

Now, however, the Great Punkin will be stepping aside at season’s end, and someone else will be taking over the leadership of the program.  When that happens, there will be no more Charlie Brown.  When that happens, it will be all business.

Make no mistake, I support Mike Hamilton, just like I support Phillip Fulmer.  I don’t particularly like Hamilton’s decision but I do agree with his decision.  Unfortunately, there are times when we all have to do things we don’t like.  As my manifesto from earlier in the season made clear, whether I liked it or not, I had concluded that it was time for Fulmer to step aside—not necessarily because I didn’t think he was capable of winning as a coach, but because the fanbase was simply too divided.

Irrespective of whether Fulmer should have been asked to resign, he has.  Thus, we look to the future.  I also agree with the general consensus that the next coach should come from outside the Tennessee bloodline.  Considering the fact that I have spent far too long discussing the merits of the family at Tennessee, this might seem odd.

One of the things that made life so difficult for Phillip Fulmer over the last six years, was the fact that he—as both a “business” coach and a “family” leader—often was forced to serve competing interests which pulled him in opposite directions.  That dilemma was ultimately part of his undoing.  Fulmer to the last day, has never attacked his own—yet he has been the brunt of a thousand assaults.  He embraced the media and the national audience in an effort to propel Tennessee to the forefront, yet he tried to balance that against the Charlie Brown loyalty he had for his program, his alma mater, his fellow alumni, and his state.  He wanted to win more than anything—and worked tirelessly to make that happen.  Yet, winning at all costs simply wasn’t an option—given the deep ties he had to the institution and its people.  In a sense, he was in the proverbial catch-22.

The next coach should not and cannot be asked to fill that role.  The next coach should and will be resolute in assuming the role as the dispassionate and detached CEO of the football fortunes at Tennessee…

That change will—in my estimation—lead to greater success for Tennessee.  By the same token, it will forever snuff out the last little light of that Great Punkin innocence that had managed to hang on within the program into the 21st Century.  The next leader will simply be “Coach”—nothing more, nothing less.  Oh, I am sure that I will give him a nickname—mainly because I give everyone a nickname—but it will be more sterile, more professional.

As for the Great Punkin, well, I hope he realizes how appreciative that I am for what he did for Tennessee throughout his career.  I hope he understands that though it is time for a change, it doesn’t mean he has been forsaken.  I hope he still thinks of Tennessee as “home” because—as former UT Chancellor and professor Jack Reese once told me “Home is the place where they have to take you in, even when they don’t want to.”  I hope Coach Fulmer realizes that he will always be a Tennessee legend.

Even more, I hope that the fans—the family—show him that they feel that way by sending him off with the fanfare, respect, and honor he has earned—that he deserves.

I realize that this has been a terribly sentimental, naive, emotional, and even childlike discussion of Coach Fulmer’s retirement.  At the end of the day, it is little more than a change in a single position at the University of Tennessee.  I realize this will probably leave me labeled forever as a homer.  There have been more than enough analytical glimpses at Fulmer’s resignation—I’d just be piling on.  Thus, I’m just sort of shooting from the hip here.  I realize it’s a bit sappy, but, it’s what I wanted to say.

I didn’t write this because Mike Hamilton wants everyone to honor Coach Fulmer and send him out in a manner befitting his service.  With all due respect to Mike Hamilton, I have donated enough money to the athletic department at Tennessee that I really could care less what he wants me to do.

I didn’t write this because I felt obligated, or because I felt I owed it to Tennessee or Coach Fulmer.

I wrote this because it is what I sincerely believe—what I feel.

This is a turning point for Tennessee.  I believe that it is one which will lead to great things—there is so much hope for the future.  I also have faith that Mike Hamilton will find the best coach for the job and that Tennessee will be back on top soon.  I have no fears about the future.

Still, I will miss the Great Punkin side of Tennessee football.  I will miss the last vestige of the old-school style of team pride, collective will, camaraderie, and devotion to alma mater.

I will miss Charlie Brown…

-- Go Figure …Email lawvol

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