Archive for the ‘NFL Football’ Category

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.

Heh…

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…

Read the rest of this entry

Should Auld “Lawvol” be Forgot…

Well, Home Sweet Home did such a good job getting all of us into the “New Year” frame of mind, that—as you can see above—Gus went ahead and brought out the Champagne early (may have to hit refresh for header to update).  Given the fact that I have been so lazy this last week, it is probably high time for me to get back up and running here at the Gate.  Once we ring in 2009, I will be back in full swing.

In the meantime, I offer up a few announcements, observations, and rude remarks to close out 2008.

  • First, in case you haven’t noticed, I added a page about our “Ushers” (calling me a writer is simply going a bit too far) which finally recognizes and gives HSH his due as a major contributor here at the Gate.  Along with that came his new badges, signatures, and other goodies which will hopefully make it more obvious (as if the quality of his writing wasn’t enough to make it clear that it wasn’t yours truly) who is saying what around this joint.
  • Second, it is nice to hear that Wayne Chism has survived his battle with the Rajin’ Cajuns.  The last thing the BasketVols need is the loss of one the most productive players on the squad before facing Kansas.  Let’s not do that again…
Wayne Chism on the Floor

Ouch!

Oh my!  Things is a gettin’ excitin’!

With all of this going on, it looks like 2009 could really be something special.  So everyone have a Happy New Year, and be safe.

See you in 2009!

– Go Figure …About Lawvol


Images Courtesy of: Knoxville Radio History

Peace Out, 2008

The View From the Hill | Gate 21

A List of Reminiscing…

Well, it’s New Year’s Eve, the final day of 2008. Yes, I know, I’m asking “Already?!?” just you like may be doing. It seems like last month I was standing in Times Square in NYC for nine hours (without any food, drinks, or bathroom breaks) with five of my friends ringing in 2008. But here it is, the start of another year is less than 24 hours away.

My new logo

Now hopefully you have yet to bail on me because of that terribly mushy opening, and if you have I thank you. I’ll get to my little list of what I’ll most remember from the past year in sports in a minute, but first I need to say that I began this whole blogging thing back in June, when the looming monster of summer school was at my doorstep. When I started, I didn’t really know what I was doing, and I wasn’t sure how long I’d be blogging or any of that. I really enjoyed it at first, mostly the posts following the NBA Finals games and my amateur, yet rather extensive, coverage of the Rocky Top Summer League (yes, I skipped studying for tests and doing schoolwork to do those). However, at first I underestimated how much work blogging actually can be.

So when lawvol approached me (figuratively) about joining forces with him, it was a no-brainer. I have enjoyed writing here at the Gate and I just want to give some props to lawvol for having me on here and for helping me when I bug him about the simplest of issues. And of course thank you to yourselves, the readers (if you’re still actually reading this). Who knows if my blogging will actually help the journalism career I’m hoping for/working towards/trying to gain experience for, but I’ve certainly enjoyed it and I’m glad I decided to begin with it.

OK, enough of those little bits of business, now onto this little list. This will be a little different than the other two I’ve done, as in I’m writing this, I’m not limiting myself to what pops into my mind when I think back of the past year in sports. I was able to narrow my hatred for Alabama down to five and the hope of the Vols’ hoops season to 10, but this is a whole year we’re talking here. I’ll try to keep it as short as I can. Anyways, here goes…

Thanks Coach

1) Good-bye and thank you Coach Fulmer: Well duh. The only Tennessee football coach I’ve pretty much ever known fell victim to a failed replacement of David Cutcliffe and the second losing season in the last four years. It’s been the toughest year as a Tennessee fan I have been a part of by far, but it ended very sweet with the home win over Kentucky.

CLK

2) Hello, Lane Kiffin: Fulmer’s replacement has me excited, and I know I ain’t the only one. Some are skeptical, but the Blackjack General (kudos, lawvol) has the fire that I think this program needs. He and his staff have plenty of work to do to return to the level of competing with Florida and the growing empire in Tuscaloosa, but so far, so good…

Champs

3) Being #1 for less than two days is still better than never being #1…: This goes way back to February, and the 66-62 #2-over-#1 win by Tennessee at Memphis. I had to cover/get audio for this game for the radio station sports show I was involved in last spring, and it was just fun to watch and see in person. That, and being in the middle of the aftermath right outside the locker room and on the FedEx Forum floor trying to be “professional” is undoubtedly a highlight of this past year.

4) 2008 SEC basketball champs: Need anything else be said? And to do it in Gainesville after getting blitzed in the first half was icing. I also covered that last home game against Carolina, so watching the whole net-cutting and t-shirt deal was a highlight.

5) Fan apathy: Honestly, this was probably the biggest factor to Fulmer’s firing. I have made my thoughts on the student attendance and the whole paying for tickets well known through this site (try this). This video (I wouldn’t dare actually post it) was the lowest point for me as a Tennessee fan in my life. I must admit, I left well before it, but I didn’t want to be a apart of that. I commend you if you did…

Thanks Chris and JaJuan

6) Chris Lofton: Seeing this guy get to play in person for two years was a treat. Talk about a role model, he had cancer, didn’t tell anyone for completely unselfish purposes, and still had a pretty good season and was an integral part of the SEC Title run for the Vols. I have his #5 jersey on my wall of my room in my apartment, and it will be hanging in TBA’s rafters soon enough.

7) JaJuan Smith, too: Walk-on to nearly making the Mavericks. The best part of watching Juanny the past two years of college was that he made it look so fun. From his rainbow threes to pestering defense and occasionaly bonehead turnover, I’ll never forget this guy and what he was to the Tennessee program.

Championship #8: I have to give Pat Summit and the Lady Vols some love. I never go to any of their games, but I do know they exist. That senior class dominated and Candace Parker, well, she’s just awesome.

9) Eric Berry: The dude is just a BAMF. My four years of college may be four of the worst in Tennessee history, but at least I got to see this guy play. Seriously, he was reason enough to watch as the awful 2008 season went down the toilet. His pick-six against Mississippi State might have been the craziest moment of the student section this past year (yeah, indicating how bad the season truly was…). List of guys he almost killed in 2008: Tyler Donovan, Taylor Embree, Knowshon Moreno, Marquis Maze, and that’s off the top of my head. If a team had 22 Eric Berrys, they would never lose. Maybe, just maybe, he’ll like playing in Monte Kiffin‘s defense enough to stay for his senior year…

Monte!

10) Monte Kiffin: Sweet! Most respected defensive coordinator in the NFL? Yes please.

11) The Streak: Tennessee has now won 37 straight home games in Thompson-Boling Arena. A couple of teams nearly broke it (Ole Miss, Kentucky, Belmont), but it’s still going strong. I still have never left that arena having seen Tennessee lose. It was empty four years ago, now this streak. Could Gonzaga end it a week from tonight?

12) Construction: If you visited Knoxville this past year, you know what I mean. The stadium. Glocker. The Baker Center. Neyland. The TBA facelift. Lindsay Nelson. Heck, even I-40 has been closed since May…

13) Losses I witnessed in person: Louisville (Sweet 16 game in Charlotte), Florida, Auburn (nearly fell asleep in the third quarter), Alabama, Wyoming…

14) My love for the NBA: It gets a bad rap for the most part, but you can’t tell me you’re a true fan of the game of basketball and not like the NBA. Before this past season, I never really followed it other than the playoffs and the handful of Grizzlies games I saw in my high school days. Now, I just plain love it. These guys are ridiculous. I could watch LeBron James play every night. The Lakers-Celtics finals capped off an amazing playoffs and it’s shaking up to be a great season this year too.

15) Wyoming: I saw them beat Tennessee 13-7 in Knoxville. They were 1-7 in the Mountain West and fired their coach. Ouch…

16) UCLA: Kevin Craft is worse than me for Heisman! really wasn’t as good as we made him look. The beginning of the end…

17) This play:

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18) These dunks:

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19) Redeem Team Wins Gold: The highlight of the Beijing Olympics for me. Yes, I watched every minute of every one of their games. They were not going to be denied and watching these guys play together and with a serious sense of urgency was well worth it. Thank you, LeBron, D-Wade, Kobe, CP3, Bosh, Howard, Boozer, D-Will, Melo, Redd, Tayshaun, Coach K and staff.

Monte!

20) The tornado that almost killed me: I’m getting lazy, so just click here. If you’re too lazy to do that, you’re worse than me I was in the Georgia Dome for the SEC Tournament when that tornado owned downtown Atlanta.

21) Michael Phelps: Second best part of the Olympics. The relay the U.S. stole from the trash-talking French and the race he won from nowhere had me up and yelling at the TV.

22) Scotty Hopson, Bobby Maze, Emmanuel Negedu, Renaldo Woolridge: They’re only going to get better…

23) This NFL season: I don’t get too pumped about pro football other than for fantasy purposes, but this was a fun season to watch. It came down to the end and I can honestly justify about six teams going all the way. Miami went from 1-15 to the playoffs and nobody’s laughing at the Falcons now. And those drama queens in Dallas are watching it all…

24) Jerod Mayo: Any time a Vol gets drafted in the Top 10…and then dominates as a rookie, I’m pumped…

25) Shaun Ellis: This was just plain funny…

YouTube Preview Image

26) Tyler Smith and J.P. Prince: Two transfers are huge parts of Tennessee hoops in 2008 and going forward. Thanks to Tyler for his clutch makes against Ole Miss and Memphis State. This year’s team is his team, and it took Prince hurting himself to make us see how important he is to this team.

27) The Olympics: Yeah, they were about all I watched for that two week stretch this summer.

28) VolQuest/Rivals: I can’t lie, I have spent countless hours procrastinating and wasting time on the message boards. If you have done it too, you know their addictive powers…

29) Jonathan Crompton: Well, there’s not much to say, but most of the Tennessee fanbase thinks he’s the worst QB to ever wear orange. Hell, he couldn’t even hand the ball off against Florida and Auburn. The Auburn game might have been the worst game ever played by a QB – my goodness was it ugly. When he entered the South Carolina after Nick Stephens threw an awful pick-six, ESPN showed his stats for the year – he had thrown for 666 yards. Yikes. Yet, that pass to Denarius Moore against Kentucky…reason for hope? I mean, he’s got an equal chance of starting next year as the other QBs Tennessee has. I’m just saying…

30) And finally, Mario Chalmers: Tiger High/John Calipari = EPIC FAIL…

YouTube Preview Image

HAPPY 2009 TO YOU FROM US HERE AT GATE 21!!!


Images Courtesy of: Michael Patrick / KNSMichael Patrick / KNSvolnation.comcoachsoffice.cominterbasket.net

The Full Monte Arrives in Knoxville…

The Full Monte Arrives in Knoxville.

Sweet…


It’s a Family Affair…

Well, I am beginning to think that some of my concerns about the loss of the “family” feeling at Tennessee due to the departure of the Great Punkin may have been unfounded.  It appears that Coach Kiffin is dead set on keeping the family side of Tennessee alive—albeit in a slightly different way than I envisioned.

The more I look at things the more the Tennessee Athletic Department mirrors the Soprano family…

kiffin-sopranos-LG.png

Thus far, Coach Kiffin has been more than happy to keep it “inside the family,” hiring both his father, Monte Kiffin (longtime defensive coordinator with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) as well as his brother-in-law David Reaves (Steve Spurrier’s quarterbacks’ coach / recruiting coordinator at South Carolina).  On top of this, last week he added an additional hire off the South Carolina Gamecocks’ staff in the form of new strength and conditioning coach Mark Smith, along with new offensive line coach James Cregg, who served under the Blackjack General when Kiffin was coaching the Los Angeles Oakland Raiders, and was currently working under Raiders’ coach Tom Cable.

So, is all of this a good thing, or a bad thing?

Well, I am honestly not sure.  That said, I like the fact that Kiffin seems to have a plan about what it is he is trying to accomplish—he’s not just randomly selecting coaches that are “available.”  In fact, with the exception of the few members of Coach Fulmer’s staff that Kiffin has retained, none of the coaches he has added to his first staff have been “available,” as Tom Cable plainly noted.  It is nice to be back in the position as a program to be able to pull people away from other programs, instead of the opposite.

Furthermore, thus far the choices that Kiffin has made to assist him in his first campaign at Tennessee appear to be quality hires.  First of all there is the Full Monte, who is the “Godfather” of the Tampa 2 defense and arguably the best defensive coordinator in the toughest football league in the world.  The venerable patriarch.

Okay, I think that can work…

Then, there is Mark Smith, who was thought by many to be one of Spurrier’s indispensable aides at both Florida and with the Thunder Chickens.  In the past, it was thought that Smith would never leave Spurrier due to the fact he rejected overtures from, among others, the Jacksonville Jaguars.  Smith has been at the heart of every successful team that Spurrier has fielded.

Apparently, Smith decided that loyalty to Spurrier could not overcome the pull of “the family”…

Then there is Reaves, who was been surprisingly successful as the Head Ball Coach’s recruiting coordinator, a fact that Tennessee fans had been acutely aware of over the last few years.  Obviously, as Lane Kiffin’s brother-in-law it is hardly surprising that Reaves decided to head to more orange-tinted pastures.  Still, Spurrier has never been one to let his coaches or recruits go to others quietly.  Thus, it also appears that there is about to be a second-round of the Tennessee vs. Spurrier battles that marked the early-to-mid 1990’s—the rumblings are already out there.

Ahh, just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in…

If (and that is a big “if”) you trust the rumors, the oft maligned Ed Orgeron (currently serving as defensive line coach for the New Orleans Saints) is next up for Kiffin as he works toward filling out his staff.  Coach “O” did not exactly wow the world with his performance as head coach of the Ole Miss Rebels, but continues to be thought of as one of the premier defensive line coaches and a crackerjack recruiter.  Given that all of the rumors of Monte Kiffin joining “Kiffin the Younger,” proved accurate, it appears that the chances are good that “O” will be “hnaw-hnawing” on the sidelines in Neyland Stadium this fall.

Now whether ticking off NFL owners and other SEC coaches is a bad thing, I cannot say.  I will say that it is nice to see Lane Kiffin out using his credibility and Tennessee’s tradition to get the people he needs.  While I realize there is something to be said for extending certain courtesies to other coaches and teams, sometimes you have to simply make folks an “offer they can’t refuse” and let the chips fall where they may.  This is especially true when it comes to re-tooling a program that has bottomed-out of late.  Kiffin, responding to questions regarding his tactics, summed it quite matter-of-factly:

“I got a job to do in our athletic department and that’s to put together the best staff we can put together and the best players we can put together.  I’m not really concerned about that stuff.”

• via: GoVolsXtra

Kiffin’s coaching-coups, appear to be making a difference as well, as Tennessee has now sewn-up several choice recruits, and appears to be getting the inside track on several more.

So far, so good.  Is Kiffin going in the right direction?  I think so.  Is he destined for greatness?  Only time will tell.  Is there plenty more to be done to cement Tennessee’s position as a contender once again for the SEC?  You better believe it.  Is Kiffin done mixing it up with the other coaches across the country yet?

Fuhgeddaboutit!

– Go Figure …Email lawvol


Images Courtesy of: Raiders.comGameCocksOnline.com
Information contained in this post courtesy of: Volquest.comGoVolsXtra

Freakin’ Waaah!

Headlines, Links & Lies | Gate 21

“This is our world. If I can speak freely here, it’s about pride, it’s about commitment, it’s about trusting everybody next to you.  So, to walk your ass out of here is about as bad a deal as you could possibly do to that group of guys.

Raiders Head Coach Tom Cable on Lane Kiffin hiring staff away from the Raiders

• via Raiders Blog and Q&A: Kiffin raids the staff

• HT to the Right Honorable Senator Blutarsky of Get the Picture

Now, I guess Tom Cable not only has to coach the Raiders, but also has to do Davis’ laundry.  Oh well…

I suppose a new tradition is beginning.

Heh…

 

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