Posts Tagged ‘Knoxville News Sentinel’

HLL: “No Muschamp news for now” Bevo Beat

Headlines, Links & Lies | Gate 21

According to the folks in Texas, Will Muschamp isn’t going anywhere:

No Muschamp news for now.

The rumors that defensive coordinator and Texas coach-in-waiting Will Muschamp is heading to Tennessee are in full force.

But people around the Longhorn athletic department aren’t worried.

One member of the Longhorns’ athletic staff said that “Muschamp was in the office yesterday and everything seemed normal. He talked about recruiting our players and our future. There was no mention of Tennessee.”

Another source said, “It would be very surprising if he left.”

Muschamp said a week ago that he was happy at Texas.

A month ago he said that every time one of these rumors pops up he runs down to Texas coach Mack Brown’s office and says that there is nothing to worry about.

According to a Knoxville News Sentinel reporter, Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton will be meeting with the media at 1 p.m. Eastern Standard time.

HT HT / via:  Bevo Beat / Statesman.com

Remembering John Ward: Ten years since “Give Him Six!”

Tennessee Football Regardless of how things turn out for the Tennessee Volunteers this fall, the 2009 season represents so very many milestones—it really isn’t even worth the trouble to try and count them all.  There has been so much change lately and so very many new looks and faces that everything seems as if it is in flux.  Some feel this near c-change is long overdue, others decry it as a loss of tradition, others still reserve judgments and simply point to the inevitable movement of the hands of time.  Still, no matter how great the changes may be, the echoes of years gone by still ring in the air around Neyland Stadium.  Thankfully, this will never change.

Vol Network In addition to all of the “obvious” landmark events that have or will occur as part of the 2009 football season, there is one more that may go unnoticed by many.  Though it hardly seems possible, the 2009 season marks Bob Kesling’s tenth year as the “Voice of the Vols.” Since the kickoff of the 1999 football opener against the Wyoming Cowboys, Kesling along with color-commentator Tim Priest, and sideline reporter Mike Stowell (who succeeded Jeff Francis in 2007), have brought the sounds of Big Orange football into our homes via the “Statewide Stadium” that is the Vol Network.

As have I pointed out in previous posts, since I was a child, I have always been a dedicated fan of live sports radio broadcasts.  I learned at an early age that television broadcasters, no matter how good they may be, simply cannot match the style, flair, color, or excitement that a gifted radio sportscaster can bring to a game.  There are few on television that come close—Ron Franklin and Mike Gottfried being pretty much the best—but even they cannot quite stay in step with the great radio broadcasters of the game.  Of course, for every Franklin and Gottfried, there are a bevy of lackluster talking suits which do little more than get in the way of the game rather than actually improving your understanding of what is taking place.

Thus is the curse of television…

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.

Read the rest of this entry

Headlines, Links & Lies: Ahhh, there’s the John Adams I remember

Headlines, Links & Lies | Gate 21

Over the years, I have often criticized Knoxville News Sentinel Sports Editor John Adams for his excessive fault-finding with the various athletic programs at Tennessee.  Since the ascendancy of Lane Kiffin as the new head football coach of the Tennessee Volunteers, however, it has seemed to me that suddenly Adams had gone soft.

Well, Adams’ recent column on Daniel Hood proves that I am wrong…

In his article, Adams concludes that Hood’s past (at age 13, he was convicted of assisting a 17-year-old in the rape of a 14-year-old) means that the Knoxville native should not be given a chance to play for the Big Orange.  This is classic Adams, complete with his longstanding habit of attacking the Great Punkin for no readily apparent reason.

As for the substance of the article, I cannot say that I entirely agree or disagree with Adams, but I do take issue with his willingness to publicly attack Hood.  I’m not making any excuses for Hood or his past actions (and apparently neither is Hood), but it seems to me to be a bit heavy-handed to walk in as a moral inquisitor standing in judgment over the kid in the way that Adams does.

Furthermore, while Adams appears to clothe the article under the guise of pointing out that Hood’s troubled past does not help with Coach Kiffin‘s efforts to instill a new sense of discipline at Tennessee, what the article is really about is taking one more shot at Phillip Fulmer.  Adams writes:

The main problem I had with former coach Phillip Fulmer’s program wasn’t the won-lost record.  It was the arrest record.  There were too many off-the-field incidents and too little discipline in return.

New UT coach Lane Kiffin has been all about discipline.  He has the attrition to show for it.  Four players have been kicked off the team, and another was disciplined before he left of his own volition.

You can’t say, “There’s a new sheriff in town,” because that implies the existence of a previous sheriff.  But by the end of spring practice, you could conclude this wasn’t business as usual.

So much has changed about UT football in the last few months, and virtually all of it for the better. A stagnant program is suddenly pulsating with energy.  Fans are excited and optimistic.

There’s a new offense, a new defense and a new outlook.

Amidst all the newness, this is no time to revert.

Adams: Daniel Hood not good for UT’s new image | GoVolsXtra.com

I suppose my biggest complaint is that Adams felt the need to so directly attack a high school-aged player in order to justify the swing at Fulmer.  It just does not seem necessary to me since, as just about every article ever written by Adams other than the one he wrote the morning after Tennessee won the 1998 National Championship shows, he has hardly ever held back in going after Tennessee’s former coach.

I guess that would have just been too boring (I know I have been tired of it for years)…

Still, the article is thought provoking.  Furthermore, I suppose that with newspapers folding-up or thinning-down all across the country writers have to do whatever they can to sell papers.

Still, more than anything this one looks like a guy trying to find a story, and when one fails to appear simply reverting to his well-honed tactics of going after an easy target.  I guess even Adams is still afraid to unabashedly go after Kiffin.

Given the support that Kiffin has been receiving, that was probably a smart decision on Adams’ part…

– So it goes Email lawvol No McAlisters


Tell Mike Griffith that I take it all back…

No Pass Out Checks | Gate 21

Earlier this year, I was somewhat miffed at the Knoxville News-Sentinel’s Mike Griffith over his early-season criticisms of the BasketVols.  I felt that those criticisms—which were as candid as they were brutal—were misplaced.  At the time I felt that Griffith was premature in his biting critique of the Vols’ play.  I felt that the, then, 6-1 and No 10 ranked BasketVols were still just beginning to warm up.  I felt that he was putting the cart before the horse.

I take that back…

As was seen in the Vols’ utterly disappointing 81-65 loss to the Ole Miss Rebels, if anything, Griffith might have actually been a little too kind to the Vols when he assessed their performance back in December.  Lately, it has seemed that the Vols have been sliding further and further as the season progresses, raising concerns about where (or whether) this team will land in the NCAA Tournament.

After all, with their game against the Rebels presenting a chance to take control of the SEC East, there was plenty to play for…

Either way, the Tennessee Volunteers now find themselves sitting at 16-9 / 7-4 with games at Kentucky, at Florida, and at South Carolina in the next two weeks.  This after losing two of their last four games (Auburn being the other recent loss).  In terms of the Vols hopes of winning the SEC East, those are not exactly great odds.

What’s more, Mississippi didn’t just get lucky down the stretch, they beat the Vols in all of the four key areas of the game:

But enough of the doom and gloom.  The good news is that, miraculously, Tennessee is still tied for first place in the SEC East—again with Kentucky, Florida, South Carolina.  Thus, the importance of each win in the last five games of the season is amplified.  So there is a real chance for Tennessee to stretch its legs quickly and pull away from the pack.  Of course, each loss is equally as devastating in terms of conference standing. The peculiar thing is that, despite Tennessee having been mightily swatted by Kentucky—and in particular Jodie Meeks—in January, the Vols and the Wildcats actually matchup fairly evenly from a statistical perspective. As the chart below shows, Tennessee has been on a slight decline in the four key factors, but have—all things considered—held reasonably steady throughout conference play.

Of course, given the Vols’ inconsistencies over the last month, it remains to be seen whether they can manage to hold the line and man-up against Kentucky this Saturday.

I am sure Mike Griffith will be watching…

– So it goes…About Lawvol


Charts / Stats Courtesy of: StatSheet.com

Who is Smarter, Smiling Mike or Bea Arthur? (or A Few Belated Comments on the Hiring of Coach Kiffin)

No Pass Out Checks | Gate21

Alright, I admit I have been a little absent and not just a little bent out of shape over the fact that I have been completely unable to post anything of substance lately due to my “real” job as an evidence manipulation specialist (lawyer).  Hence my last post.  What’s more, this has been a very exciting week for fans of the Big Orange, as Tennessee named Lane Kiffin its new head football coach.  Despite all of the fanfare, I spent my week in a courtroom, and failed to get a single decent comment out in a timely fashion.

Again, hence my last post…

That said, after watching a few video clips, most notably the one below, I am feeling much more relaxed and much happier.  Why?  Because, I am beginning to think that maybe Smiling Mike has done it again.

Lane Kiffin’s First Press Conference as Tennessee Head Football Coach

I’ll be the first to admit, Lane Kiffin wasn’t the number one name on my list—but make no mistake he was on it.  Still, in the back of my mind I wondered “is Mike Hamilton rushing into things?  I just don’t know if I would have been in such a rush.”

Then I remembered two key things:

  1. I picked the Auburn Tigers to win the SEC West and the Tennessee Volunteers to finish second in the SEC East this year; and
  2. Bruce Pearl.

Those two realizations gave me a moment of pause and suddenly gave me real confidence in the decision to hire Lane Kiffin as the head football coach at Tennessee.

The first point reminded me that I am a moron and that my skills as a prognosticator and student of college football are about as reliable as Eric Locke was as a receiver (or kick returner, or cheerleader, or ditch digger, or…).  Furthermore, it reminded me that there is an awful lot of guesswork in the business or picking coaches.  Which led me to point number two.

Smiling Mike dares you to make fun of his shirt

As I wrote some time ago while serving as a stand-in guest writer over at Joel’s venerable pillar of the Fifth Estate, on the day Bruce Pearl was introduced as Men’s Basketball coach the first thing I asked myself was “who the hell is Bruce Pearl?”  Well, suffice it to say that I now know who Bruce Pearl is, and I’m pretty sure the rest of the basketball loving inhabitants of the country do now as well.  The point is this: love him or hate him, over the last few years Mike Hamilton has shown an uncanny ability to find coaches about as well as anyone in the world of college sports, and as a result, I’m willing to trust his decision.

I think Hamilton has earned that.

Furthermore, what I have seen so far from Coach Kiffin (does kind of have a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?) has thoroughly impressed me.  The video above was especially telling for me.  Why?  Because Kiffin does not talk about “the passion of Tennessee’s fans” or “the tradition they have here.”   No, instead—about ten minutes after he was named head coach—he comments on “the passion of our fans” and “the tradition we have here.

I know, I know, I’m sure the folks in the Sports Information office reminded him to project that message, but you know what, it seemed pretty sincere to me…

I realize taking “ownership” verbally is a small detail—one which can be overstated—but it impressed me.  I honestly expected the typical “NFL-style” quasi-corporate speech about future, direction, and leadership.  I expected his opening foray with the press to be far less personal than it was.  Given my concerns that the “family” aspect of Tennessee football might fade away with the departure of the Great Punkin, this really did my heart good.  It also made it clear that Coach Kiffin understands that we happy few, we band of brothers, who wear the Orange are sort of “into” that whole “Tradition” thing.

All I can say is that I first looked at the hiring of Coach Kiffin with a lot of hope and expectation, and a near equal amount of concern and reticence.  After seeing how he has handled himself so far, it’s fair to say that I have been impressed.

Yeah, I’ve got me a great big pitcher of the proverbial Kool-Aid, and I’m chugging it down through a garden hose…

I guess that is why I felt led to say hello to Coach Kiffin visually—in the header here at the Gate—rather than simply saying “Oh, um, yeah we got us a coach.”

No matter what I may have thought about the past, I am pretty convinced that Coach Kiffin is the the right man to guide Tennessee into the future.

Which leads me to the seemingly inane title of this post.

I will be the first to admit that I am not a huge fan of professional sports and while I typically follow the NFL playoffs in a limited sense, I can hardly be said to keep up with the league.  There are a lot of reasons for this, but the end result is that I am often less than informed when it comes to the guys that play on Sunday.  Thus, the only real understanding I had when it came to Coach Kiffin was that he had been fired as head coach of the Los Angeles … err … OaklandLos Ang … Los Oaklesland Raiders mid-season.  I didn’t really hold this against him, because I realize how fickle NFL owners can be.  Furthermore, I hardly felt like I had enough background knowledge to really even understand why he was fired (I had to check just to confirm whether the Raiders were in Los Angeles or Oakland this year).

Still, I knew that something hadn’t worked out the way it had been planned…

Then, I stumbled upon this little jewel:

Al Davis on the Firing of Lane Kiffin

This video really confirmed a few things for me:

  • The Raiders will never win much of anything until that nut-job of an owner they have gives it up;
  • Anytime a coach is fired and respected journalists write things like this, it’s probably not the coach’s fault the team is sucking the tubes:

Al Davis’ once-proud franchise has won 19 games since appearing in the 2002 Super Bowl (or one more than the Patriots won in 2007) and better days seemed even more remote in January. That’s when the modest momentum built under new head coach Lane Kiffin in 2007 was flushed when it was learned Davis wanted Kiffin gone because Kiffin wanted to, ya know, coach the team…

Tom Curran | NBC Sports

  • Coach Kiffin’s record as an NFL head coach is of little concern to me considering the situation he inherited; and
  • Bea Arthur really should stop wearing those silly black leather jackets and sweatshirts when giving press conferences.

Al Davis?

Bea Arthur?

So, is Betty White currently the defensive coordinator for the Raiders, or is it one of the other Golden Girls?

Anyway, the point of this rambling post is simply to say, that I am thrilled to have Lane Kiffin on board as the newest member of the Tennessee family.  So far, I have been amazingly impressed with the way he has jumped in headfirst at Tennessee.  Most of all, however, I am happy with how he seems to really want be at Tennessee as opposed to simply biding his time.

Of course, I realize that he has not yet completed his first full week as head coach.  Still, all I can say is that—so far—it seems like Smiling Mike Hamilton may have gotten it right…again!

Either way, Coach Kiffin, I mean it sincerely when I say “Welcome to the Family!”

Oh yeah, and, Go Vols!

– Go Figure …Email lawvol


Images Courtesy of: Knoxville News SentinelSA BlogsBroadwayWorld.comNBC Sports / Getty Images

So, is it Kiffin? Who do we believe?

Headlines, Links & Lies | Gate 21

All sorts of rumors are flying about in Big Orange Country about Lane Kiffin.  Numerous websites, blogs, and news organizations are reporting that Smilin’ Mike has already offered the Tennessee coaching job to the 33 year-old former head coach of the Los Angeles Raiders.

Could this be Tennessee's next head coach?

In response, Mike Hamilton publicly stated that he had not offered Kiffin the job.  According to the Knoxville News Sentinel Hamilton stated:

We have not offered the job to anybody.  If anybody has said that, that would be incorrect information.

Our process is fluid.  I understand there is a lot of interest in what’s going on. It would not surprise me that people would want to talk about these kinds of things.  The process is not over.

— Courtesy of the Knoxville News Sentinel

What Hamilton did not say was that he had not already made a decision, even though a formal offer had not yet been extended…

I find this all a bit troubling, considering that this weekend is supposed to be about honoring our current coach, as opposed to spinning the rumor mill about who our next coach will be.

Either way, I agree with Mike Hamilton that there it is understandable that people are interested.  After all, I suppose I am writing about why it bothers me that so many people are writing about it (now you are beginning to understand why I became a lawyer).

One way or the other, here are a few of the noteworthy stories flying about at present:

Meanwhile, I’m just wondering what it could be like to have a head coach only one year older than me?

– Go Figure …


Contributions and Leads Courtesy of: Rocky Top Talk
Images Courtesy of: SI.comSmashSouthSports.com
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