Archive for the ‘Rumor Mill’ Category

Jay Graham Interviewing for Vacant RB Coach Spot

Tennessee FootballGate 21 has received information from a reliable source that Jay Graham, former Vol running back during the the Reign of Peyton is currently interviewing for the running backs coach position left vacant by Eddie Gran.  Graham is currently making around $110,000 at South Carolina as their running backs and special teams coach.  Speculation is leading some to think that should UT choose to bring home the Graham-man, Hamilton would give Kiffin a little more room to operate to pursue Kippy Brown or Rob Ianello.

I know we’ve been slacking on covering the recent drama, but let me say a few things about Assistant-Gate:

1)  If Gran had something to do with Luc going to FSU, so be it.  We’ve got Michael Taylor and that boy is going to be an Al Wilson-grade stud.

2) If you put a gun to my head and told me I had to make Gran go to another school, I would say Florida State before you could finish the sentence.  Him being there is good for us because they play Florida every year and hardly ever play us.  A competitive Florida State (and for that matter, Miami) is good for us.  Also, the last time we played them, we walked away with a crystal football, so we’re good in my book.

3)  It’s good to have coaches in demand.  If another school wants one of our coaches, it means they recognize we’re doing something right.  This will also help us on the backside in recruiting new coaches in that UT can be a launching point.  I know a constant revolving door isn’t good for continuity, but I can assure you that the core of this staff (Kiffin, Orgeron, Monte) aren’t going anywhere and if Graham comes, he’ll probably join that group.

4) Graham is also recruiting well for South Carolina right now.  In light of some calls for Trooper to come back, Graham could be a deal to make everyone happy.

At the end of the day, how can you say no to a guy who did THIS to Bama?

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I have the honor to be, the VolAmbassador | Gate 21

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Urban Meyer to Notre Dame?

Wait.  Before you pop the champagne corks, let me flush this one out.

I only have one source have two sources saying that Urban is heading out.

Here are some things to consider, though.

1.  Urban Meyer’s buyout clause is only $500,000.  Notre Dame sneezes at that kind of money when it comes to buying championships coaches.

2.  Urban may have suggested, by implication, that Notre Dame is his dream job.  That comes from a guy who says “I’m not leaving X for anywhere” and actually means “The movers came last weekend and my house is empty.”  He wants that job.

3.  Urban Meyer>Bob Stoops.  Do you really want to debate this one?  Fine.  Talk to the Honorable Corrine Brown.YouTube Preview Image

4.  $50,000,000 over 10 years or $25,000,000 over 5 years.  Yeah, that’s a five million a year base salary.  Plus, a Nike Contract, three “projects” (read: JUCO players), and $1.2 m for a national championship. Urban’s current base salary: $4m.   [Editor's note: states secrets privilege invoked, information redacted]

5.  The SEC is getting crowded.  Urban knows he can count on Kiffin, Richt, and Surrier every year and plays the odds on getting Saban, Nutt, or Miles every other year.  Kiffin is hellbent on crushing Meyer and he knows it.  There’s nothing quite as unsettling as knowing that someone has your number.

What does this mean? Well a few things.

1.  I will be in Neyland next year for the Florida game.  Florida – Tebow and Meyer= Ole Miss.  Year Two of the Reign of Kiffin at home against my generation’s most hated rival?  I’m bringing my Florida fans with me. I may even buy their tickets for this one.

2.  Bob Stoops is going to have some ‘splaining to do.  It’s like when you try to upgrade your dating profile at your fiancee’s expense.  You usually end up on the couch.  You may end up single.

3. Pete Carroll better have this year’s ND game edited and made into a commemorative DVD.

4. The Tennesse-Notre Dame rivalry is back.  With a vengeance.

5.  Or I am completely and totally wrong on all of these points and Brian Kelly will be the next head coach of Notre Dame.

I have the honor to be, the VolAmbassador | Gate 21

Image(s) Courtesy of:   xx   •   xx   •   xx

Looks like Eric Berry has bulked-up in the off-season

Not quite sure if he has also grown to be 70 feet tall…

…but I’d believe it.

– So it goes…About Lawvol

Alabama gets caught cheating, Kiffin plays with chalk

No Pass Out Checks | Gate21

Somewhere, in front of a chalkboard—his hands coated with chalk dust—Lane Kiffin is smiling…

For the past several months Tennessee fans and the general sports-watching public have heard a near endless discussion about the various secondary infractions which have occurred since Lane Kiffin (a/k/a “the Blackjack General”) took the reins as the head football coach for the Tennessee Volunteers.  Needless to say, some have taken every available opportunity to criticize the University of Tennessee, The UT Athletic Department, Smiling Mike Hamilton, and the Blackjack General himself.  Some of it has amounted to little more than sniping and smack-talk, while others have been decidedly more direct.

Rightly or wrongly, Tennessee has self-reported (or is in the process of investigating with with an eye toward reporting) six secondary violations of NCAA Rules, the most recent coming—as HSH reported just the other day—as a result of the Blackjack General’s recent appearance on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines,” where he discussed, imagine that, secondary infractions with ESPN’s Bob Ley.

A “secondary violation” is defined in the NCAA Manual as follows:

A secondary violation is a violation that is isolated or inadvertent in nature, provides or is intended to provide only a minimal recruiting, competitive or other advantage and does not include any significant recruiting inducement or extra benefit.  Multiple secondary violations by a member institution may collectively be considered as a major violation.

•  2008-09 NCAA Division 1 ManualPDF Document § (emphasis added)

To put this in layman’s terms, secondary violations are the functional equivalent of talking in the NCAA’s rather large and particularly boring class.  Or, perhaps, in Lane Kiffin’s case, they amount to showing-off for all the girls (or in this case, recruits) in the back of class to impress them and passing notes reading:

I like you.  A Lot.

Do you like me?

Check One:  ___Yes  ___No  ___Maybe

— Lane

While this sort of thing—in both Mrs. Elliott’s 6th Period English Class and in the world of NCAA compliance—are annoying, they are largely harmless.  While it is true (again, with both Mrs. Elliott and the NCAA) that enough of these sorts of minor errors along the way can land you in the proverbial Principal’s office, as long as you say you are sorry after each instance (and UT has self-reported all such violations) and space the occurrences out by a day or two, usually there is little punishment to be meted out, aside from being made a spectacle in front of your peers…

… or by having to stay after class and write on the blackboard.


Kiffin at the Chalkboard

Hence, while Lane Kiffin and the UT Athletic Department are probably getting a little tired of having to deal with the issue of secondary violations, they have been merely a bump in the road thus far.

The Alabama Crimson Tide, on the other hand, is now facing a decidedly more serious situation…

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Walking in Memphis: a Brief Reflection on Reality, Basketball, and Bruce Pearl…

No Pass Out Checks | Gate21

Then I’m walking in Memphis
Walking with my feet ten feet off of Beale
Walking in Memphis
But do I really feel the way I feel

• “>" href="" >Walking in Memphis” by Marc Cohn

Well, it seems that Bruce Pearl will be staying in Knoxville for the foreseeable future, which is good.  The question, however, remains: What are we to make of this “Memphis Incident”?

For starters, I am greatly relieved that Bruce Almighty will still be wearing orange next season.  That is the good news, not that there is necessarily some “bad” news, but keeping Pearl on the sidelines in Knoxville is definitely very good.

That said, what exactly are we to take away from the brief and furious flirtation (so brief and furious that I never even got a chance to comment before it ended) with the notion that Coach Pearl might bolt to the Pyramid City to take the reins as head coach of the Memphis Tigers?  The real answer is probably “nothing.”  Still there are a few thoughts that jump out to me—random observations, I suppose—which seem relevant, if less than timely.

Bruce Pearl is Happy at Tennessee…

It seems to me that Bruce Pearl sent two messages yesterday.  The first is a very positive one, namely that he is happy as coach of the Tennessee Volunteers and has no desire to leave behind what he has begun.  Bruce Pearl likes it here.

Why do I say that?  Well first of all is the obvious: he is staying here.  More importantly, however, is the what he said in his public statement last night.  To me, it makes it clear that Pearl is truly happy to be at Tennessee.

I truly love my job, and I want it to be clear that I’m not interested in any other job.  There’s no place in the country I’d rather be than the University of Tennessee.  My children are happy here in the Knoxville community—one is in high school, one is in middle school and two are currently attending the university.

My staff and I are building a consistent top-25 program and I’m honored and privileged to serve the greatest fans in the country. Tennessee has all the resources necessary to win championships, from our recently upgraded facilities to our ability to schedule.

It’s great to be a Tennessee Vol!

Bruce Pearl commenting on rumors of him leaving Tennessee | UT

Now in the era of sports double-talk and lip service (See Bobby Petrino at any point in his career), it is rarely advisable to take public professions of loyalty at face value.  I understand that.  Still, there are different degrees of lip service and there are different types of coaches.  Pearl’s statement was anything but tepid—it was largely unequivocal and pointed.  In other words, he could have simply said “I’m staying,” and left the other assurances out of the discussion; he didn’t.

Second of all, for reasons unknown to me (considering I have never met Pearl), I trust the man.  Maybe that owes to the side of him that exudes infectious enthusiasm about everything to which he is tied; maybe it is because of his well documented history of loyalty at Iowa and Wisconsin-Green Bay; maybe it is because he is a con man and I’m snowed.  Regardless of the reasons, Pearl is unique in my mind because I do believe that he is both loyal and trustworthy as a coach.  My gut tells me that if he was not happy and was considering a move, while he might not come out and say it, he would similarly not effervesce about how much he loves it at Tennessee.

Furthermore, if he had wanted to leave, it would have been hard to argue with his decision given the suggestion that Memphis was prepared to offer up to $ 3.25 million a year (approximately $ 1.25 million more per year than his new contract is reported to provide).

Thus, I believe him when he says that he never intended to leave, and that he truly loves coaching the BasketVolsIf he truly wanted to leave, he would have.

Yeah, yeah, I know—I’ve obviously been drinking the Kool Aid…

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UTAD Announces Naming Rights Sold, Neyland Stadium to be Renamed

Neyland Stadium is in the process of getting a new face, but now it is also getting a new name…

At a press conference early this morning, UT Athletic Director Mike Hamilton announced that starting this season the Home of the Vols—known since 1962 as Neyland Stadium—will have a new name: “Nissan Stadium at Neyland Landing


New logo for Nissan Stadium at Neyland Landing

Joined by UT Acting President Jan Simek, Athletics Board leader Jim Haslam, head football coach Lane Kiffin, and Nissan representatives, Hamilton unveiled preliminary designs for the new stadium logo and explained why Nissan was ultimately chosen as the new principal naming partner for Tennessee’s most visible icon.

This is an historic opportunity for athletics at Tennessee and for the stadium that we all love.  Furthermore, this partnership assures the financial future of this program for many years to come.  When we began the process of exploring a naming alliance, from the outset, we were committed to forging a pact with an organization that was both committed to this great state, but also one that fans and alumni could be proud of.  That is precisely what Nissan could offer.  Furthermore, this historic alliance only serves to amplify the national respect for Tennessee football and for the university as a whole.

• Mike Hamilton, commenting on UT / Nissan Partnership

In total, Nissan will contribute over $1.1 billion to the UT athletics program over the next 5 years.  Though unconfirmed at this time, there were indications that Nissan is considering a re-branding of its products to feature an orange and black color scheme.

Since the start of the athletic department’s master plan renovations to Neyland Stadium in 2004, the project has been funded by private funding sources.  UT Athletics Board leader Jim Haslam noted that, while largely relying upon VASF donors, the scope and size of the project was such that corporate partners were envisioned from the beginning.   “While it was never publicly advertised, the naming rights for the stadium were always available,” said Haslam.  Haslam also indicated that other companies were considered, but none could provide what Nissan ultimately offered.

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Is Billy Clyde out at Kentucky?

update» Updated: 27 March 2009 — 4:25pm

Apparently, Gillispie’s firing became official about 5 minutes after I posted this.  At least I was a little bit ahead of the curve…

update» Updated: 27 March 2009 — 4:42pm

Now, as his comment below points out, HSH has discovered an even more interesting development: perhaps Billy Donovan is going to Kentucky.

Well, friends and neighbors, it’s not like it is unexpected, but it appears that Billy Gillispie is out at Kentucky.  This comes from WHAS TV in Louisville.  Seemingly in response to this report, the Kentucky athletic department issued a public statement which—paraphrased—amounts to their complete refusal to make a public statement.  It read,  “UK mens basketball coach Billy Gillispie has not been fired. There have been no meetings between Gillispie and UK officials today and there is no scheduled press conference tomorrow.

I think a simple “no comment” would have sufficed.

Either way, this does seriously change the dynamic in the SEC East.  Hooper over at RTT has an interesting article on why this prospect scares him as a fan of SEC and Tennessee basketball.  The uncertainty at Kentucky will definitely add confusion to recruiting, but what if Kentucky actually gets a “good” coach?  With rumors flying about as to who will replace Gillispie, it stands to reason that Kentucky Mitch Barnhart will be trying to save his neck by getting a coach who is a little better fit for the Wildcats this time around than was Billy Clyde.  According to the guys at Team Speed Kills, however, that new coach will not be Billy Donovan (or will it?).

In the meantime, I suppose we will all be guessing…

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