Archive for the ‘Shoutin’ Out’ Category

Giving Respect Where Respect is Due

Shoutin Out | Gate 21

It pretty much goes without saying that Jonathan Crompton’s journey as the Tennessee Volunteers’ quarterback  been a long and arduous one.  This Saturday, that journey moves one step closer to ending.

This weekend’s contest against Vanderbilt will be Crompton’s final home game for the orange and white and will be his one last chance to show the denizens of Neyland Stadium just how committed he has been to the fortunes of Tennessee football, how dedicated he has been to success as both a player and a leader, how much he has worked to become someone the Vols and their fans could be proud of.

It also represents the last time—perhaps the only time—for Tennessee fans of every stripe to show him just how much they appreciate him for what he has done.

Jonathan Crompton

Image via Wikipedia

Thus, I hope that all of you who make the trek to the game on Saturday will consider doing a little something special to show Crompton that we as the Vol Nation do appreciate his hard work, his effort, and his loyalty to the University of Tennessee.

I think it is the least that we as a fanbase can do.

In recognition of this, a special group has been formed on Facebook to celebrate Crompton’s contribution to Tennessee Football and to hopefully do a little something special for him on the Vol Walk this weekend.

For those of you out there who don’t recall, Crompton received death threats last season due to the Vols’ implosion.  Then, early this season, there were many who, again, questioned his abilities (including yours truly, I’m sad to say) and openly called for Lane Kiffin to bench the Vol senior in favor of reserve quarterback Nick Stephens.  This ignores the furor on the various chat boards.  This young man had to endure all of this while still trying to work toward winning games.  To Lane Kiffin’s credit, he stuck to his guns and was proven to have made a smart decision when Crompton had his coming out party against the Georgia Bulldogs.

Jonathan Crompton has played under four different offensive systems, and has had to re-learn everything throughout his entire time at Tennessee.  Yet, rather than complain or just give up, Crompton stuck it out despite his doubters.  He kept working, kept trying, kept pushing to be better.  Even though it probably took him a bit longer than he wished it had, he finally found that success that had so eluded him.  What’s more, in the process of attaining his goal, he gave the new era of Tennessee Football a fighting chance for respectability in its first year.

Despite his successes this season, it is doubtful that Jonathan Crompton will ever be remembered as one of the greatest quarterbacks to wear the orange.  With names like Peyton Manning, Andy Kelly, and Heath Shuler in the lineage, that is understandable.  Still, in many ways, Crompton has shown more determination, more perseverance, and more heart than any Tennessee quarterback in the modern era.

I think that means something.

Thus, I encourage all of you to not only join the Facebook group honoring Crompton’s contribution to Tennessee Football, but to also maybe do a little something on your own this Saturday as he makes his final Vol Walk toward Neyland Stadium—maybe a sign, maybe a salute, maybe a kind word.

In light of the events of the past week and the misdeeds of some of the Volunteers, I think Crompton’s type of dedication and sacrifice stands out all the more.

All I can do is to say that I am proud that Crompton wore the orange…

– So it goes…About Lawvol

Clay Travis’ “On Rocky Top”: Beautiful Agony

Shoutin Out | Gate 21

On Rocky Top After living through the unmitigated disaster that was the 2008 football season for the Tennessee Volunteers, I was not so sure I was prepared to take a stroll with Clay Travis down memory lane via his new book “On Rocky Top.”  The 2008 season was the most gut-wrenching experience of my sports-watching life, one which Travis himself likened to having your arm amputated without laudanum.  It was truly painful and not merely because the Vols lost seven games.  Losing comes with competition, I can handle losing.  Watching an entire program, an entire fanbase, an entire state devolve into a constant state of turmoil, however, was the part that made it an experience that I was more than ready to forget.  Even  after nine months of good vibrations—buoyed up by the hopes and energy of new Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin and his band of invincibles—assuming that I was prepared to join Travis’ on his retrospective journey through the 2008 season, I wasn’t really sure I wanted to make that trip into the past.

I suppose, I was just ready to move on.

When first I saw that Clay Travis had written a book on the Vols 2008 football campaign, my reaction was that he picked one hell of a bad year to write about Tennessee.  I knew Clay was a fine writer, having read his work for CBS, Fanhouse, and his book Dixieland Delight.  Still, I remember thinking to myself “Man, that really stinks for Clay—all that work to write a book about a 5-7 season.” After all, who wants to read about a team that loses, and loses a lot?

You do.

Clay Travis’ new book “On Rocky Top” is one of the best sports books I have read in a long time.

Read the rest of this entry

Coming soon to Newsstands: “Rocky Top Tennessee 2009″

Shoutin Out | Gate 21

Tennessee Football In case you haven’t heard, there’s a pretty great new Tennessee Football preview annual coming out in only a few short days.  It’s from Maple Street Press and is entitled: “Rocky Top Tennessee 2009.

I know, I know, you’re probably thinking to yourself “those previews are all the same, a bunch of the same basic statistics and information re-styled to make them appear shiny and new.”  In most circumstances you would be correct, but this preview is a little different than most.  You see, Maple Street Press does not approach these sorts of publications the way that some of the other publishers do.  They turn independent writers and bloggers who are passionate about their team and ask them to write on subjects that are near and dear to their hearts.

The result is a 128 pages of thoughtful insight, analysis, and perspective that the mainstream press simply does not offer.  Furthermore, if your a regular reader here at Gate 21 and other sites across the web, you’ll recognize some of the writers and be pleasantly surprised at the ways Rocky Top Tennessee 2009 differs from the run-of-the-mill preview magazine.

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Tyler Smith Staying

The View From the Hill | Gate 21

It’s a rainy and stormy afternoon here in Knoxville, but Tyler Smith is brightening the day for Tennessee hoops.

Smith announced he’s going to stay for his senior season. Obviously this is good news, because Tyler’s the best player on Tennessee’s team. Additionally, Smith will be the fifth senior Vol for next year, alongside Wayne Chism, J.P. Prince, Bobby Maze, and Josh Tabb (walk-on Quinn Cannington is also a senior). A nice senior core for the Vols as they look to add a second SEC Title in four years. At this point, your way early SEC favorites have to be (in no particular order) Kentucky with the Jodie Meeks-Patrick Patterson combo and influx of studs, defending champs LSU with Tasmin Mitchell (who’s been at LSU since Stromile Swift) and Marcus Thornton, and Tennessee.

Welcome back, Tyler

A couple of other notes: first, a shout-out to bosgap at Losers With Socks who called this 9 days ago. Now I wouldn’t say they were going too terribly far out on that limb, but kudos to those guys scooping this, adding another feather in their hat of breaking news well in advance.

Secondly, a shout-out of thanks and best wishes to Philip Jurick, who is transferring and thus providing a way for Tyler to come back by opening up a scholarship. I saw Jurick play a little bit at last year’s Rocky Top League, and while I saw some promise, I also saw a project of sorts. He showed some really positive inside defense but his offensive game was very lacking. With Tyler’s return and the addition of Kenny Hall to the Chism-Brian Williams-Emmanuel Negedu platoon, I highly doubt Jurick would have been able to break into the big-man rotation next year.

Speaking of the Rocky Top League, last year I took upon myself the task of “covering” it using the start I started out with – “The View From The Hill.” I went every night and took some video and some pictures and mental notes and observations, and I really enjoyed it. Unfortunately I won’t be able to do that this year, as I won’t be able to go every night and I’ll miss the first week of it. That said, if you’re in Knoxville on a Monday or Wednesday the next three weeks, do head over to Bearden High School and watch some games.

Sure, there’s no air-conditioning and outside of the Tennessee players the other competitors are small college or high school players, but it’s a cool experience. Of course it’s glorified pick-up basketball with referees and clock, and the defense is highly lacking, but nowhere else will you get this close to the Vol players. If you’ve got kids, I can almost guarantee you will get autographs from the entire team, as well as some other former Vols like everybody’s favorite Dane Bradshaw, and a couple of my personal favorite former Vols Ron Slay and C.J. Watson.

Oh, and I forgot to mention the best part…IT’S FREE

About Home Sweet Home... … to me.

Headlines, Links, & Lies: “I’m not as lazy as I appear to be” Edition

Headlines, Links & Lies | Gate 21

Just a quick link or two that stood out to me…

Fred White does sports talk, and chats with VJ

First of all, anyone who remembers watching former Vol DB Fred “The Deuce” White from 1996-99 will be pleased to hear that Fred now has his own radio show courtesy of 1180 WVLZ in Knoxville, the same station that brings you Basilio and other great sports talk radio. The guys over at Vol Junkies recently got the chance to sit down and chat with Fred about his new show and get a few insights from the big man. Check out the interview over at Vol Junkies, and you can check out Fred’s show at 1180 am on your radio dial or in a live web stream from the WVLZ website.

Brian Butler’s tale gets even more twisted

RTT’s Hooper takes an interesting look at all of the issues surrounding the Tennessee recruit Bryce Brown’s “handler,” Brian Butler, on the heels of the announcement that the NCAA will be investigating Butler’s involvement the recruiting of high school athletes (not an investigation of any program in particular, but rather one of Butler and his Potential Players recruiting service).  It’s an interesting read, discussing the thorny path that high school handlers must walk, and the possible implications it can have for both recruits and the programs recruiting them.  Oh it’s a tangled web we weave…

MoonDog gets a facelift

In case you hadn’t noticed, the venerable and all-knowing MoonDog has gotten a facelift.  Well, at least his site has.  Slide on over and check out the new look for his prognosticating and pontification portal,, which is pretty snazzy looking if you ask me (of course I did help a little with the makeover, so I suppose I’m biased).


Hopefully, I will get a chance to come up for air soon, and can continue on with my series looking into the impact of the nation’s economic woes on major athletics entitled: “The Cost of Sports.”  I also hope to simply get back to my standard fare of half-baked and poorly executed commentary on Tennessee sports.  Until then, however, all I can say is that I am trying my best and hope to be back in the saddle … someday.

– So it goes …Email lawvol

Shoutin’ Out: Lawvol speads a little love…

Shoutin Out | Gate 21

Seeing as I am currently loaded up with more projects than I can keep up with (more on that in the near future), I thought now would be as good a time as any to send out a few “messages of love” to those across the web who are deserving.

Thus, I bring you a few points of interest worth exploring (along with a few links sandwiched in between):

First of all, there are a few new additions to the Vol-logosphere which require a quick mention:

Vol Junkies

Vol Junkies has been around for a while now, and has a great looking site which does a fine job commenting on the exact same thing the rest of us orange-wearing bloggers do, except—unlike yours truly—the man in charge over there actually has some idea of what he is about.  Furthermore, half of the site appears to be on fire (just go visit, you’ll see what I mean) Be it football, basketball, or politics, if it’s orange, VJ has it.  You can check it all out at:

Bleeding Orange

Bleeding Orange is another new Vol-log led by the eponymous Tennessy Vol who speaks from within the confines of the University of Tennessee (yeah, he’s a student).  He has only been around a short while, but has nonetheless put together some really good stuff which is worth giving a look, take for instance his recent breakdown on the Vols recruiting class.   You can check it all out at:

Read the rest of this entry

Yes, I’m Still Here

The View From the Hill | Gate 21

Miss Me?

Those of you who normally visit us here at the Gate will obviously noticed that, well, I have been non-existent since Thanksgiving. No lawvol did not ban me, change my password and lock me out of WordPress, and I have not quit blogging or anything else.

Simply put, I’ve had to finish up this semester with finals and studying and all that nonsense. Then there was the painting of our apartment, which is more than likely what I was doing when I wasn’t studying. As it is, I’m back in Memphis for the between-semester break.

Quite a bit has gone on since my last posting, and I’m sure I’ll have more on these things and others as they come about over the next however long. As it is here’s what I’ll touch on right here and right now with Vols football and hoops:

1. Farewill Philip Fulmer and hello Lane (and Monte) Kiffin.

Some Vol fan might have shed a tear or two, but I was all smiles of happiness watching Fulmer go out the way he did and the way he should be remembered: a winner

First off, an absolutely great performance in the season finale for the Vols as they beat Kentucky 28-10. The defense finished off an excellent season and the offense actually scored four touchdowns, running left, right, up the middle, around the end, all over the Cats. Even Jonathan Crompton completed that beautiful touchdown pass to Denarius Moore.

If there was a way for Coach Fulmer to go out, that might have been it: being carried off the field by a pair of seniors going out as a winner.

Honestly, that seems like a distant memory now, because these last two weeks have been all about new head coach Lane Kiffin and (a) the speculation of the staff he might/is assemble/ing and (b) the Sherman like march of recruiting. I think the guy finally returned to Knoxville a couple of days ago after tearing through the state, the West Coast, Ohio, and who knows where else. He’s gotten a commitment from Eric Gordon, some visits from guys who weren’t probably planning on it, and consideration from guys who might have had Tennessee out of the picture.

I am convinced Lane Kiffin did not sleep during his two week recruiting tear...

It’s obviously been two weeks as Tennessee’s coach, but so far so good if you ask me. He said at his press conference that he was going to try and outwork other coaches, and so far you can’t really say he hasn’t done that. And we’re still waiting on the completion of his staff, which won’t happen until after the NFL season most likely. Of the last regime coaches who are still in limbo, I would expect Latrell Scott to be the most likely to stay. And of course I think it’s all-but-official on Monte Kiffin as the defensive coordinator, which is great. Still awaiting word on Ed Orgeron and the rest of the staff. Lane was given an extra million for staff salaries, and Tennessee fans are being kept waiting on the potentially all-star staff Tennessee could have next year.

Finally, as fans, let’s give this guy a chance. If you watched the SEC Championship game, you realize we are quite a bit behind Florida. In fact, I firmly believe that the SEC going forward will be an Urban-Saban world that the rest of us will be living in. To be competitive, Tennessee was going to have to hire someone who could compete with those two guys in recruiting and X’s and O’s. Is Lane Kiffin that guy? Only time will tell. Some are skeptical (you know who you are), but I’m not. He’s young, he’s energetic, and I think he has a chance to be great.

Also, a shout-out to former offensive coordinator Dave Clawson, now the new head man at Bowling Green. Seriously, I wish him much success at his new place, and I’m glad he landed very much on his feet. Now I just hope he doesn’t take Latrell Scott with him…

2. Eric Berry gets Manninged

Someone explain to me how Eric Berry didn’t win the Thorpe award over Ohio State’s Malcolm Jenkins. I know Jenkins is like a no-brainer first round NFL pick and whatever and it’s harder to make a statistical impact at corner because you don’t get thrown to blah blah blah but that’s pure robbery.

It’s crap like that gives me plenty of reason to not care about any of the postseason awards, including and especially the Heisman. Call me a homer, bitter, whatever, but just like much of the rest of college football, it’s quite political.

Playing a DECEMBER road game against a team with a guy named Christmas: bad idea

3. Not sure any of us expected that

My last basketball related words were of the high-praise variety, following the Vols win over Georgetown in the Old Spice Classic semifinals. Since then, Tennessee lost to a good Gonzaga team, sleep-walked by UNC-Asheville (mad props to Tyler Smith for turning the first triple-double in Tennessee hoops history), and got smoked by a Temple team playing at a high level at home.

Now I’m an optimistic guy, so here’s why Vols fans shouldn’t be totally freaking out: first, J.P. Prince was out and, though he gets a bad rap at times, he is quite a valuable guy for Tennessee. In addition, this was Tennessee’s first true road game with a number of new guys, Temple is no slouch, it’s still December, and Bruce Pearl is the coach. Remember two years ago when Tennessee went to South Carolina in mid-February and got run out of the gym similar to Saturday? Yeah, that team had less athleticism and they reached the Sweet 16. Let’s not get too bent out of shape here…

That said, things aren’t all hunky-dory. Defense is an issue. The press has been for the most part ineffective especially against Gonzaga and Temple, both of whom have experienced guards. Wayne Chism has yet to continue the growth and progress he made last year, and the platoon of him and Brian Williams have struggled the last couple of games. The three-point shooting has also been inconsistent.

It doesn’t get easier, as Tennessee faces off against Marquette in Nashville Tuesday night. The Eagles also have experienced guards in Dominic James, Jerel McNeal and Wesley Matthews. It will be interesting to see how Tennessee will bounce back from Saturday’s loss.

I will be in the house for that game, and if for no other reason, Tennessee should win because I’ve seen Tennessee lose in person all of twice in my most immediate past: LSU in the SEC Tournament two years ago and the loss at Memphis State in Bruce’s first year. I’ll have my camera, so hopefully I’ll get some quality photos and/or video and get to share them with you, the wonderful readers of Gate 21 (no guarantees, however…)

As it is, I’m glad to be back posting again and lawvol and I should have some good stuff going this month.

Images Courtesy of: Michael Patrick / KNSMichael Patrick / KNSH. Rumph Jr. / AP (
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