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Posts Tagged ‘Tennessee Volunteers’

Mike Hamilton, Please End The Nightmare

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on October 28, 2008

Dear Mike Hamilton,

I am writing this letter as a disgruntled sports fan, foremost a Tennessean.

For 17 years, Coach Phil Fulmer has patrolled the sidelines at Neyland Stadium and whether you like him or not, has coached the Volunteers to two overall SEC Championships, five outright SEC East Division Championships, and most importantly, a National Championship in 1998.

He’s coached players like Peyton Manning, Peerless Price, Robert Meachem, Casey Clausen, Erik Ainge, Tee Martin, Gerald Riggs, Ellix Wilson (I went to grade school with him), Cedric Wilson, Al Wilson, Todd Helton, and countless others to bowl games as well as burgeoning NFL careers.

But in the high-stakes world of college football in 2008, I, along with the numerous friends I know that are Vol fans, believe that you, Mike Hamilton, as athletic director of the state’s flagship school can end this nightmare by getting rid of Fat Boy Fulmer.

Look at the facts. The Vols, in the ten years since that glorious season when it seemed as if they could do no wrong, has been stagnant in their success.

Since 1998, the Volunteers have gone to three SEC Championship Games and lost them all, most notably the 2001 SEC title game in which the Volunteers were heavily favored and lost to an upstart LSU team that was then coached by Nick Saban.

So in one night, Mr. Hamilton, the Vols went from BCS contenders to the 2002 Citrus Bowl, where they would beat Michigan 45-17.

Then you have the 2005 season in which the Vols would go from #3 to not being mentioned at all, capped by a loss to Vanderbilt — a team that, as I write this, is one win away from being bowl eligible this year — behind the arm of then quarterback Jay Cutler at Neyland Stadium.

It’s one thing to lose big to Alabama on the same night that your university honors the 1998 National Championship team, but on a crisp and clear November day three years ago how could your coach lose at home to a school that is more focused on producing scientists than football talent?

Answer that, Mr. Hamilton.

From what I understand, your former employer Clemson University, a school steeped in football tradition got rid of Tommy Bowden this season after going 17 years without an ACC Championship.

Certainly (and this comes from a guy who may or may not told Lloyd Carr that the game was passing him by on this same blog last football season) you can read this letter and do us Tennesseans all a big favor by ending what has been a nightmarish season in Knoxville and across the state.

From what my experts tell me, Dyersburg native Bradley Greer might be your best choice for head coach.

At least he knows how to motivate.

Yours for minimum wage and beer,

SGA Senator Doc Hancock


Posted in NCAA Football | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Pot, Meet Kettle

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on February 21, 2008


A while back, I wrote on this website how it felt to be a Tennessean since Vanderbilt, Tennessee, and Memphis were ranked in the top 25 and as of this writing, are all still ranked in the polls.

But while in my basic lifetime, Vanderbilt and Memphis never met that much on the hardwood, the last time I think the two teams met was either 1993 or 1998, the Tennessee-Memphis rivalry in basketball has a different meaning.

For many years, Memphis and Vanderbilt were the basketball schools in this state, especially in the last 30 years as both the Commodores and Tigers have won multiple conference championships, participated in numerous postseason tournaments and, well, made basketball the thing do after their schools tank their football seasons.

The Vols, on the other hand, have not had anywhere near the success that the Commodores and Tigers have had in the last 30 years.

Since Ray Mears left Knoxville in 1979, the Vols have two overall SEC Championships.

There’s been a multitude of coaches that had tried before Bruce Pearl to get Tennessee basketball back to the level that Mears had it, namely Wade Houston, Kevin O’Neil, Jerry Green, and Buzz Peterson — guys who coached in Knoxville during my lifetime.

And they all failed.

Enter Bruce Pearl.

This week, Tennessee will come to Memphis with their highest ranking ever, #2 in this week’s polls, and a chance to put a dent in what is quickly turning into one special season here in town.

Of course, they’re going to have Chris Lofton, JaJuan Smith, Wayne Chism along for the ride and of course, there’s going to be a multitude of orange-clad fans invading the FedEx Forum for the biggest regular-season game in school history.

Before Tennessee gets revved up for the Tigers, they first have to take care of Auburn, who gave Kentucky a scare a couple of weeks ago in Auburn and could very well be a trap game for the Vols leading up to Saturday.

And given the depth chart of Auburn’s team, which looks like an NAIA roster, that shouldn’t be a problem for the Vols.

But as a team here in Memphis learned on Saturday in Batesville, Arkansas, what might look like an easy win isn’t.

You’re just another team to them.

Posted in NCAA Basketball | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Great Time To Be A Basketball Fan In Tennessee

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on December 10, 2007

Last season, the state of Tennessee rejoiced as each Grand Division was well-represented by one school in the NCAA Tournament’s “Sweet 16” as Memphis, Vanderbilt, and Tennessee made the round of 16, which ranks as one of the rare times in this state’s history that three teams from the Volunteer State accomplished that feat in the same season.

And although the Tigers again carried the banner of the state by advancing to the Elite Eight for the second year in a row, the incredible season of basketball in the Volunteer State was supposed to be nothing more than a once-in-a-lifetime event.

But so far this year, the Vols, Tigers, and Commodores are again giving basketball fans in the state something to cheer about as the three schools are ranked in the top 25 and are a combined 24-1 at the end of action on Sunday.

Not to mention that one of my former classmates at Southwest, Lester Hudson, who is now at Tennessee-Martin is among the nation’s leaders in scoring at 26.4 points per game and was the focal point of a recent story that ran in the Commercial Appeal last week.

For Tennessee, who is the odds-on favorite to win the SEC East, the key to their success is the play of senior standout Chris Lofton, who along with JaJuan Smith, had a hand in denying UT-Chattanooga’s chance at an upset bid last Tuesday in Chattanooga by scoring 16 and 13, respectively. Not only that, sophomore Wayne Chism is quickly emerging into one of the premier big men in the SEC by leading the team in rebounds and blocks.

Vanderbilt’s success this year came as bit of a surprise after losing former Ridgeway standout Derrick Byars to the NBA, who along with Shan Foster led the Commodores to the Sweet 16 last season. Although Foster returned to West End Avenue, the cupboard for the most part according to many SEC basketball experts was bare, save for the emergence of LSU transfer Ross Neltner, who gained valuable playing time last year off the bench.

But despite the loss of a few key players for Vanderbilt, the Commodores are again off to another great start on West End Avenue, bringing their record to 9-0 after beating neighborhood rival Lipscomb on Saturday night at Memorial Gym thanks in part to the play of A.J. Oglivy and Foster.

Next up for the ‘Dores will be a trip to Chicago to face a pissed-off DePaul squad that got crushed by an excellent Kansas team at Allen Fieldhouse and then a break from the season to take finals and prep up for the start of the conference portion of the season with games against another crosstown foe in Tennessee State and a showdown against Lester Hudson and Tennessee-Martin four days after Christmas.

In West Tennessee, the Tigers are the talk of the nation thanks in part to the play of super-freshmen Derrick Rose who has lived up to the preseason hype as the Tigers are #2 in the nation and 7-0 going into their game with Middle Tennessee on Saturday afternoon in Nashville, which will be a mismatch on paper as the Blue Raiders sit at 2-5 on the season and is need of something to turn the season around before the start of conference play.

If Memphis laxes against the Blue Raiders, chances are the Tigers could be upset if they don’t play with the level of intensity that Calipari has preached about since their lackluster showing against Arkansas State before Thanksgiving.

But given the way they’ve played against USC, that seems to be a far-fetched idea that is only a product of my imagination.

Then again, you never know.

Posted in NCAA Basketball | Tagged: , , , , | Comments Off on Great Time To Be A Basketball Fan In Tennessee