Archive for the ‘SEC Fans’ 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

At least he’s taking the loss well…

I am sure that many feel his pain — myself included — but it makes you wonder: why is it again that we love football so much?

Video: Vol Fan Reacts to Blocked Field Goal

HT HT / via: Vol Nation

At least he’s not too upset over the loss to Alabama…

– So it goes Email lawvol No McAlisters

2009 Big Orange Roundtable: Week 8 — The Kickoff Edition

Gate 21 is proud to host this week’s Roundtable!

It’s Time…

This week’s Big Orange Roundtable is hosted by … ummm … oh, yeah, it’s our week.  We here at the Gate are proud to host the 2009 kickoff edition of the Big Orange Roundtable as we all get ready to tee it up and kick it down for the 112th season of Tennessee Volunteers Football.

With that lovely prospect in mind, let’s get down to business:

Week 8

1) (From HSH)  We’ve talked through the past month or so about just about everything we could talk about regarding this Tennessee team: the quarterbacks, offensive line, freshman, Eric Berry, finding healthy wide receivers, freshman again, etc. So the simple question is this: what do you expect or what specifically are you looking for from the Vols against Western Kentucky this Saturday?

bullet HSH: First things first, Western Kentucky is not going to be anything close to resembling a quality football team.  They were recently a power in 1-AA, but this is their first full year in 1-A, and have the potential to be one of the worst teams to come to Neyland Stadium in a while (yes, I’m including Wyoming).  They went just 2-10 last year (the wins were Eastern Kentucky and Murray State) and return just 12 starters from that team.

So if Tennessee hangs 60 points on the Hilltoppers, oh, well it was just Western Kentucky, right?  Not exactly.  I want to see Tennessee score lots of points Saturday afternoon.  I expect Lane Kiffin will want to pound the rock with the running backs.  I want to see a confident Jonathan Crompton that doesn’t make any mistakes and crisply runs the offense.

Defensively, I want to see which freshmen make an early impact in their first games, and how they handle playing for real.  On both sides, I want to see swagger—OK, it’s WKU, but we could be playing my high school’s team and I would still want to see our players have a wealth of confidence in themselves and their coaches that creates said swagger.

bullet Lawvol: I expect and hope to see a few things.  First, I am not exactly expecting grandeur for this first game of the 2009 season, but what I am expecting to see is poise and purpose.  I am hoping that this team brings their attitude—one which was sorely missing last season—and refuses to play down to the level of their opponent which they should beat under almost any circumstance.

Let’s be honest, Western Kentucky went 2-10 last season which made even the Vols’ 5-7 campaign seem decent.  Prior to 2008, however, Western Kentucky had a streak of 12 straight winning seasons, and look to be on the upswing.  That said, The Vols have got to play with a little spark and bring their best game to their opponent—regardless of the quality of that opponent.  The Vols have to play their game and not let it be dictated to them by their opponent.

Most of all, I am looking to see a team that is glad to be on the field playing once more.  I hope that we begin to see the development of the new Kiffin system and hopefully get a huge relief when the quarterback play is surprisingly crisp and effective.  This is a confidence game which is only a good thing if you perform in a manner that inspires confidence

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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.

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2009 Big Orange Roundtable: Week 5

This Week’s Roundtable is hosted by: The Pigskin Pathos

This week’s Big Orange Roundtable is hosted by The Pigskin Pathos, the resident Tennessee/Auburn blog, and he’s thought of some highly interesting questions…

Given the fact that Lawvol is lazy, unreliable, and has been out-of-position most of the week due to “depositions” (likely story), this week I am flying solo on the Roundtable…

Week 5

(1a) Urban Meyer is last in line to order at a Pahokee, Fla. McDonald’s. The door suddenly opens, and Lane Kiffin walks in. Urban Meyer is not above momentarily turning his head to see who enters a room, as we are all wont to do. Upon seeing each other, both coaches pause for a moment, knowing that an awkward encounter is inevitable. Lane, being the brash one, decides to initiate. Finish the conversation, use as many lines as you feelare necessary.

HSH: Sorry to be a Buzz Killington, but this a is trick question.

You see, there actually is no McDonalds in Pahokee. The closest one is in Belle Glade, which, according to Google Maps, is a 16-minute drive from the great city of Pahokee. After what Lane Kiffin said back around Signing Day in the spring about Pahokee, I was inspired to double-check of if the city had a McDonalds, and this is what I found. So maybe Kiffin’s Pahokee comments – although not necessarily wise – weren’t exactly that far off-base…they don’t even a McDonalds.

But to play along, here’s my take:

  • Lane: Sup, Urbie?
  • Urban: Oh…hey Lane…
  • Awkward silence, tension building
  • Kiffin’s phone rings, and it’s a recruit
  • Urban goes on to order, the two never make eye contact again – including the postgame handshake September 19th

I think it would be the awkward confrontation between two guys that don’t have an ounce of respect for each other. These two guys couldn’t give a you-know-what about the other one, so I don’t think either would have much to say.

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The Great Punkin Returneth…

Well, in case you hadn’t heard, Phillip Fulmer (a/k/a “the Great Punkin”) has been selected as the 2009 recipient of the Robert R. Neyland Trophy.  Fulmer will be formally presented the award at the East Tennessee Chapter of the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame awards brunch on Saturday morning.  Fulmer will also be honored on the field prior to the start of this weekend’s Orange and White game.  This award, named in honor of General Neyland, has been awarded by the Knoxville Quarterback Club for the last 44 years.

This year’s choice has a few people upset, or at least scratching their heads a bit.

It is hard to argue with Fulmer deserving the award.  The issue for some folks is the the timing, because now Coach Fulmer will be honored immediately prior to Lane Kiffin’s debut as the head coach of the Volunteers—the same team that Fulmer coached up until the end of last season.  One need look no farther than any of the various Tennessee web forums and blogs to see the proverbial “lines in the sand” being drawn by fans on both sides.

Never afraid to make a public statement when called upon to do so, the Blackjack General commented on the matter earlier today :

Coach Fulmer has had a tremendous impact on Tennessee.  He’s the second-winningest coach in Tennessee history behind General Neyland. It’s only fitting that he receives this prestigious award. I hope all Tennessee fans will show up early Saturday to show their appreciation for all he has done for our program, our university and our state.

Lane Kiffin: Commenting on Coach Fulmer being honored prior to the Orange and White Game | GoVols Xtra

Some will say (or already have) that the timing of Fulmer’s selection was intentional—that this was an orchestrated barb at the athletic department (most pointedly at Smiling Mike Hamilton) from Fulmer supporters on the Neyland Trophy committee.  Others will say that the award amounts to little more than incurable homerism on the part of some who refuse to let Coach Fulmer go.  On the other side, there is the argument that Coach Fulmer was an immensely successful coach and earned the award fairly, and that it is fitting he be receive the award at the first appropriate opportunity—the first year after he leaves Tennessee.  Others still will say that the only reason that some are complaining is because they fired a good coach and they know it.

Either way, it makes for some high drama…

I for one don’t see what the big deal is either way.  Lane Kiffin had nothing to do with Phillip Fulmer’s ouster.  Phillip Fulmer was a great coach for the Vols and remains a loyal Tennessean—I respect the man for what he has done.  Coach Kiffin has had to deal with much worse, as has Coach Fulmer.  There is no reason in this instance why the orange-clad faithful can’t have their cake and eat it to.

In my opinion, the “controversy” over this is nothing more than a few people with axes to grind on both sides of the fence trying to create a storm for/against Coach Fulmer being honored or for / against Coach Kiffin taking “the greensward of Shields-Watkins Field” for the first time.  What I haven’t heard from anyone is this:

The politicization of this event by “factions” does nothing but dishonor the memory of one person: General Robert R. Neyland.

The Neyland Trophy was created to honor the General’s legacy, and to preserve his mark on the landscape of college football.  To try and turn this award into a circus is, to me, repugnant.  To anyone that would add fuel to the fire in either direction and not support both Fulmer and Kiffin, I say “shame on you.” It is bad for the fanbase, it is bad for Tennessee, it is bad for Coach Fulmer, and it is bad for Coach Kiffin.  In my opinion it is wrong.

There is no reason that the fans cannot cheer their former coach for winning the Neyland Trophy and then, five minutes later, cheer their current coach as he brings his team out on to the field.  In the process of doing both, those cheers also honor General Neyland.  I support both Fulmer and Kiffin.  I also support preserving Neyland’s place in the pantheon of the game I love.

More than any of that, however, I support Tennessee first and foremost…

It is not about either man, it is not about making a statement for or against one coach or the other, it is not about using the event as a bully pulpit.  It is about supporting your team, your school, your “family,” and doing what is right.

So, who do you support?

– So it goes…About Lawvol

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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