Archive for the ‘Professional Sports’ Category

2009 Big Orange Roundtable: Week 4

This Week’s Roundtable is hosted by:

Vol Junkies

This week’s Big Orange Roundtable is hosted by Vol Junkies, who has served up another installment of questions burning in the minds of the citizens of Orange Nation.

Thus, here are our thoughts for the week:

Week 4

1) What is your thought on Eric Berry’s Heisman chances?  Should he play on offense in-order to increase his chances?  Is Kiffin being to selfish saying Berry will not practice offense?

bullet HSH: I’m not exactly how real Berry’s chances of actually winning the Trophy—which I deemed meaningless after the Manning debacle.  Not only does he have the obstacle of being a defensive player, he has to basically beat Colt McCoy from Texas, Sam Bradford from Oklahoma and some guy named Tebow.  I don’t think Lane Kiffin should play Berry on offense just to help his Heisman chances.  If our offense is seriously sucking, then sure, desperate times call for desperate measures.

That said, I have absolutely no problem with the University doing the whole campaign thing.  Berry is obviously a special, once-in-a-while player with a great attitude.  Seeing him in person on and off the field the past two years has been something I’m glad to have been a part of—now if only he might consider staying for his senior year…

bullet Lawvol: I have very mixed (albeit not necessarily negative) feelings on this.

First of all, I personally believe that Eric Berry is more than deserving of a shot at the Heisman Trophy.  In two short years he has pretty much become the man-beast of SEC defenses and is, hands down, the best defensive player in the toughest conference in the country.  I personally believe that he is the best defensive player in any conference, anywhere.  That, however, is just my opinion and I will be the first to admit that I am biased.  Still, there is no arguing with the fact that Eric Berry has earned the right to be considered among the top players in the country this season and to be considered for the Heisman.  I am unequivocally behind the Tennessee’s campaign to promote Berry’s Heisman candidacy.

That said, I am less that optimistic about his chances…

I say that because, since only one truly defensive player has previously won the Heisman—which I am sure every Tennessee fan remembers all too well—the precedent is somewhat weak.  Furthermore, given the national media’s love affair with Tim Tebow, I expect that every possible machination that can occur to ensure Tebow winning the trophy for the second time will be brought to bear, if at all possible.

There is also the fact that exaggerated hype often leads to less-than-stellar performances since, with everyone talking about how great a particular player is, the target on their back gets even bigger when facing opponents.  That is not to say that I doubt Berry’s ability to produce in the same way he has in the past, but recognizes that opposing teams will be gunning for him … and staying away from him.

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2009 Big Orange Roundtable: Week 2

This Week’s Roundtable is hosted by: 3rd Saturday in Blogtober

This week marks the second edition of the 2009 version of the Big Orange Roundtable and is hosted by the guys over at 3SIB..

Week 2

1)  We will start with an easy one.  Last week, our beloved Rock was relocated across the street to make room for a new building on campus.  What are your thoughts on the Rock’s relocation?

bullet HSH: Being a student, I actually have the slight advantage of seeing the change.  I drove by as the crane was lifting the behemoth out of the ground, and I’ve only seen it once since it’s been moved.  I have to say it’s going be to a little odd driving through the stoplight next to Stokely Athletic Center and the Thornton Athletic Student Center (where all the UT athletes get their school on), looking to my left and not seeing the Rock.  It might take a little bit of time to get used the change come the fall.

For me, it’s just another aspect of a common theme of my years here as a student.  Here’s what’s changed or been built since I came to Knoxville in the fall of 2006: all the recent renovations to Neyland Stadium, the makeover of Thompson-Boling Arena, Pratt Pavilion, a new soccer stadium, a new softball stadium, the brand new aquatic center.

And that’s just the changes on the athletics side of campus.  There’s also been the total change in the old Glocker Building, which has now become Haslam Business Building where all the business majors do their thing.  The Baker Policy Center was risen up on the corner of Cumberland Avenue and 17th Street, replacing the parking lot where my family parked for every game I came to up until I graduated from high school.  Those are two major projects, that I’ve seen started and completed in my days as a student.

Back to the Rock, my only contact with actually came before I was officially enrolled.  I had two of the more enthusiastic Orientation leaders, and late one night during the two-day event we got together and painted the thing.  I would have visual evidence to prove it, but my computer erased my hard drive awhile, thus I have nothing…

The Rock in its new Home

The Rock in its new Home

bullet Lawvol: First of all, I am glad that the Rock did not unceremoniously disappear from campus as a result of the new Student Health Center that is being constructed.  The worst thing imaginable would have been for the university to simply blow the thing up or what have you and cart it off.  I realize the process of relocating the Rock was both onerous and expensive, but I have to give a little credit to university administration (a/k/a “The Big Orange Screw”) for making the right call and preserving this tradition for future generations.

All that said, the last time I painted the Rock was 1997.  I say “painted”—my involvement actually centered more on leaning up against the Rock in a near catatonic state as drool fell from my gaping mouth and I uttered various slurred obscenities at my cohorts.  You see, I was completely pissed drunk overcome by a multitude of circumstances at the time and my recollection of that particular evening of frivolity is fuzzy to say the least.  Still, the Rock does have a special place in my mind due to its tradition of announcing great events, lurid innuendo, and Gameday proclamations.  Considering it is directly across the street from where it used to be located, I doubt there will really be all that much difference.

Of course, I do wonder whether some students may be confused by the relocation—in particular, those suffering from the same … mental confusion … that afflicted me the last time I painted the Rock.  If so, the university may be faced with a long road of maintenance as the drunken masses repeatedly paint the front of the new Student Health Center.

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I Didn’t Miss Anything, Did I? A Month in Review

The View From the Hill | Gate 21

Yep, I’m still here. Lawvol hasn’t kicked me out of the site yet, despite my laziness and lack of posting this spring. I literally haven’t posted anything in a month and two days. My last post focused on Tyler Smith declaring for the NBA Draft and his prospects for that draft. Since then, I’ve had to finish up the spring semester, haul through a three week min-term class, and, probably most importantly, looked for and found a place to intern for the fall in efforts to further my career. After all, I am now a senior and hopefully I’ll have graduated this time next year (yes, it’s kind of scary).

I sure haven’t missed too much the past month…

If you’re like me, you’ve long been counting down to August and football season already, and only the NBA and NHL playoffs have been offering a real distraction from that. It’s been a rather action-packed month for the Tennessee program, as there seems to be something come up just about every single day, especially this past week.

J.C. Copeland

Recruiting: This new staff obviously spends an incredible amount of time evaluating and going through the process, and that has reaped some results the past two weeks. After this season, the offensive and defensive lines are going to be particularly thin, so those two positions without a doubt are the biggest needs in the 2010 class.

So Tennessee goes out and gets some big people. Yes way yes way Jose Jose started it off, followed by JUCO defenders Pat Harris and Bruce Irvin, Georgia J.C. Copeland, and Miami linebacker/d-end Ralph Williams. Now I must admit I hadn’t heard of any of these guys. Additionally, Jose needs to drop some weight and Harris didn’t even play football in high school. Obviously we fans have to simply take our coaches’ words for it when it comes to recruiting because it’s so hit-or-miss, but I think we need to understand that this is likely going to be a big class numbers-wise and size-wise, as in there’s going to be some beef in these commitments. I also don’t find much surprise in taking some junior college players who have the potential ability to come in and contribute right away. Then again, those guys are even more hit (Gibril Wilson) or miss (Kenny O’Neal).

Jake Heaps...

The QB situation: In addition to the needs along the lines, the other big recruiting story line is of course the QB position, where the Vols expect to sign at least two in the 2010 class. Jake Heaps and Jesse Scroggins (their Rivals profiles are linked at the end) are the two big names, and Andrew Hendrix has been another guy whose name I’ve heard alot. I’ll keep my opinion on this simple: if Tennessee were to get Heaps or Scroggins and Hendrix or another guy, then I think you can be happy with that.

or Jesse Scroggins?

Now that is where having the situation with Robert Marve not work out hurts a little, because now after this season you’re down to Nick Stephens and Mike Rozier, the former baseball player. That’s also where B.J. Coleman bailing doesn’t help either, but the way he handled that situation of going to the Chattanooga Times-Free Press first and throwing the coaches under the bus makes me not miss him. Good riddance and enjoy playing for a really bad UT-Chattanooga program. Nevertheless, we should know something on Heaps and Scroggins soon, because Heaps has said he wants to make his decision in June and Scroggins may very well be waiting to see what Heaps does.

The exodus: OK, players leaving is a part of any program where there’s a turnover of coaching staffs, so this was sort of expected. It happened at Alabama when Nick Saban was hired and it’s happened now with the Kiffin regime. What does it mean, exactly? Well, really outside of the Coleman departure’s effect on the QB depth, the collective contributions of the 11 leaving players isn’t much, outside of Lennon Creer and Dee Morley. Creer saw the writing on the wall with Toney Williams, Bryce Brown and David Oku joining the stable, and Morley had been walking a tight line for awhile. Losing some lineman hurts depth, but overall, how bad have the 11 departures really been? Hey, if a player isn’t going to cut it or doesn’t want to do the work that will cut it, then see ya later.

Even the new coaching staff has had a member leave this week in strength and conditioning coach Mark Smith. Obviously the AD and Kiffin had mutual disagreements of some kind with Smith and it’s unfortunate and probably a negative event, but I think Tennessee will be OK in the end. Aaron Ausmus seems like the likely replacement, but Lane needs to find one soon, since summer workouts start next week.

Hokey Pahokee: Much. Ado. About. Nothing. No, Lane shouldn’t have said what he said and he apologized well before this got brought up again. The principal of the school and whoever else had a hand in drawing this out to the point it got to came across as desperate for some attention. The problem I had was the administration of a school denying access of specific schools to their students. In other words, if I’m a stud recruit at that Pahokee and there’s mutual interest between me and Tennessee, should the school have the right to deny UT access to me? Fortunately it’s apparently all good down there now, so hopefully UT can get another player from that talent-rich area.

Yes or no?

Twitter-gate: Who cares? Secondary violations don’t mean a thing…unless Tennessee does it. Lane didn’t even “tweet” it, so I don’t even blink an eye to this nonsense.

On another note, what’s the deal with Twitter? I’ve been back-and-forth on whether or not I want to give in and join the craze and following some of the various athletes’ accounts would be cool, but what’s the big deal? If you’re on there, please tell me…

Daniel Hood: This got a great deal of attention as well as it should have, so I won’t spend too much time on it. It’s a touchy subject as well, and I was skeptical at first about it. However, I feel much better about it now than I did when I first got the news the Hood was getting a scholarship. Tennessee still will have a convicted rapist on the team and opposing fans will use this against the Vols from now until the end of time, but that’s part of the consequences. The bottom line for me is that everyone who commented in stories I read who are and were much, much closer to Hood and the situation than any of us said nothing but positive things about Hood. I mean, the victim of the whole ordeal vouched for Hood. What more does it take? I think Lane and the staff and Mike Hamilton did their work on this one, so I can handle their decision.

That’s it for now. I’ll probably post something about the awesomely exciting (or “amazing,” if you agree with the slogan) NBA Playoffs. Also, this is probably old news, but if you haven’t already checked it out, Will over at Rocky Top Talk is getting into the nitty-gritty (ie, top 15) of his countdown of the 50 best games from the Philip Fulmer era. This is probably old because they started way back in January, but it’s really good stuff – the writing and story-telling is so good it might even be better than the nostalgic feelings of the good ‘ol days.

About Home Sweet Home... … to me.

Images Courtesy of: VolQuestRivals – Jake HeapsRivals – Jesse Scroggins

What the Puck?! Carolina beats the Bruins!

After last night, I’m just glad that the Canes are still alive…

My, oh my!  The Carolina Hurricanes are going to the NHL Eastern Conference Finals!  Led by the RBC Center’s master of the scoreboard ceremonies —the Nature Boy, Ric Flair—everyone is “WOOO-ing” in my hometown, the City of Oaks.

Video: Carolina Hurricanes Goal! WOOOOO!

The Hurricanes scoreboard celebration after scoring a goal

Once again, the Carolina Hurricanes pulled off the amazing, besting the Boston Bruins 3-2 last night in Game 7 of the NHL Eastern Conference Semifinals.  Once again, the decisive game of the series came down to the wire, with Carolina securing the victory off of a Scott Walker chip-shot goal with only 1:14 left in sudden death overtime.  The goal scored at 18:46 on the clock in overtime by Walker (who used to play for the Bruins), sealed the game, advanced the Cardiac Canes to the NHL Eastern Conference Finals, and gave the Bruins a chance to get start on all those “honey-do” lists around the house.  For some real insights on the game, check out Canes Country (which is written by people who actually understand hockey).

Up next, the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Once again, I find myself loving this “hockey thing” and having something to cheer about in the off-season as I prepare for the Tennessee Volunteers’ upcoming football season.  Of course, as I mentioned a few weeks ago when the Canes beat the New Jersey Devils, hockey can be a hard sell in the South, where few people ever played the game.  Still, it seems to me that hockey is a natural fit in the South due to all of the things it has to offer.  In reply to my last hockey post, I posted a few comments on the issue:

I think the primary reason that so few Southerners really “get” hockey is due to the fact they had no exposure to playing it. I played (at some level) all of the major sports, except hockey growing up. The first time I went to a hockey game I was a little sketchy on the rules and really wasn’t completely sure what was going on except for trying to get the puck in the goal.

The penalties left me a bit perplexed too. I remember thinking “A penalty of ‘icing’ — what the hell is that about? The playing surface — in case you hadn’t noticed Mr. Referee—is a big freakin’ sheet of ICE! They’re all knocking big chunks of the frozen stuff all over the place, why do you have to pick on that guy?

Over time, however, I have picked up on most of the rules and so forth, but the other thing I realized the night I first went to watch a hockey game was that I didn’t need to understand the rules. In some ways, hockey is a synthesis of all the great games: the team model of basketball; a flow like soccer; the speed of … well … racing; the use of sticks to hit things like baseball (okay that one is a bit of a stretch); and the strategy and bone-crushing physicality of football. Oh, yeah, and there is the whole fistfight thing from boxing.  The thing that makes it so exciting is the speed and the anticipation of the goal.

Most of all, it is just a hell of a lot of fun to watch. I really wish more Southerners would give it a look, it is a blast to watch in person.

So, all of you, go out and watch a hockey game next time you get the chance, whether it be the Hurricanes, the Predators, the Knoxville Ice Bears or whatever team is in your area. It’s a good time.

Just remember to bring a sweater…

via: Comments on “Speaking of Hockey…” | Gate 21

Seriously, hockey is a pretty darn cool game.  On top of that, most of the teams in the South know that they are a new thing to a lot of folks, and as a result have done everything they can to reach out to the community and show them what a great game hockey is.  Here’s Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos explaining—GEICO style—what the Hurricanes did to get the community involved (well, sort of):

Video: Carolina Hurricanes: Real Hockey

I love the outtakes reel at the end of that one

The game is just exciting, and I for one agree with what Mike Greenberg said on today’s edition of ESPN’s Mike & Mike in the Morning this morning: while I may be a much bigger fan of other sports, the NHL playoffs are some of the most exciting sporting events you will ever see.

Yes, just like before, I do realize that all this hockey talk is a bit off-topic for a site focusing on the Vols and the SEC.  Still, I figure there’s a little wiggle room in that whole “Life, the Universe…” part of the Gate’s byline (that’s those words at the top of the page, if you were wondering).

Besides, what else is there to write about at present…

– So it goes Email lawvol No McAlisters

Videos(s) Courtesy of:   Raleigh News & Observer •  N& ||  Statement on Fair Use

Speaking of Hockey…

Since I’ve been so bad at posting lately—largely due to the lack of things to write about—I thought I’d pass along this little gem I found over at the FAIL Blog:

How ... thoughtful

Nice timing, mister hockey-fan-who-is-obviously-not-watching-the-game-but-wasting-time-on-juvenile-humor guy, you are a WINN-ARH!

In other news, the Carolina Hurricanes gave the New Jersey Devils the back of their hand, by scoring two (which in hockey is a veritable scoring orgy) goals in the last 1:21 of Game Seven of the First Round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Say Goodnight, Gracie...

To all you fans of the Boston Bruins, the Hurricanes are coming.  Their symbol is a storm that wreaks havoc and destruction.  Their leader (Rod Brind’Amour) is a near-40 year-old gamer who has had his nose broken 143,601 times and eats hand grenades for breakfast.  Their mascot is a pig on ice skates.

All you have is a “Bruin” (whatever that is).  You have been warned.

Yeah, yeah, I know this is a site dedicated primarily to the Tennessee Volunteers and the SEC, but I gotta support my local team … and their pig.  Besides, what else is there to watch, baseball?

But seriously, this “off-season” thing is a killer…

– So it goes …Email lawvol No McAlisters

Image(s) Courtesy of:   the FAIL Blog •  Reuters / Daylife •   Hockey Blog in Canada ||  Statement on Fair Use

Meanwhile, back on the ranch… (A few items of interest)

Well, there hasn’t been much going on in Big Orange Country of late, thus I have been painfully slow at posting…

There have been a few items of interest, mainly Robert Ayres being drafted at No. 18 by the Denver Broncos, along with Ramon Foster, Josh Briscoe, Lucas Taylor, Arian Foster, Britton Colquitt, and DeAngelo Willingham who were all picked up in free agency.  A dutiful blogger would have something insightful to say about all of this, but I have not been particularly dutiful of late and Hooper has already said pretty much everything worth saying over at RockyTopTalk.  Thus, I’ll just ride his coattails for the moment (sigh…).

On another front, apparently the powers that be in World soccer have decided that Neyland Stadium is worthy of hosting World Cup (Soccer) competition, and everyone’s favorite stadium has made the cut in the most recent round of machinations pertaining to site selection for the United States’ bid to host the 2018 / 2022 World Cup.  While I am hardly the world’s biggest soccer fan (despite spending an inordinate amount of time watching 9-year-olds compete in it), it was nice to note that Neyland Stadium qualified, while Bryant-Denny Stadium (Alabama Crimson Tide), Tiger Stadium (LSU Tigers), Jordan-Hare Stadium (Auburn Tigers), and  Beaver Stadium (Penn State Nittany Lions), among others did not.  I guess that new jumbotron was just too good a thing to turn down.


Finally, as a resident of the RDU area of North Carolina, my “other” team is fighting for a chance to advance toward claiming Lord Stanley’s Cup.  Yes, that is hockey for those of you who do not realize it.  No, I wasn’t born in Canada.  Yes, I grew up in the South.  Yes, you should really consider giving the NHL a try—hockey is pretty cool (especially when there is no football).  For both of you out there who care, you can read all there is to be known about my othe team, the Carolina Hurricanes, over at Canes Country, which is part of the SBN family of blogs, (i.e. a lot better than this joint).

In the meantime, I will continue to work diligently to find ways to waste time on meaningless things and thus avoid wasting time writing meaningless articles…

– So it goes…About Lawvol

Image(s) Courtesy of:   Carolina Hurricanes ||  Statement on Fair Use

The Cost of Sports — Part 2: Jerry Maguire and Professional Sports

No Pass Out Checks | Gate 21

As I discussed in Part 1 of this series on the cost of sports, at Tennessee, 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, 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, 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…

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