Friday Sports, etc: Vols beat Kentucky and sign a good class

http://www.utsports.com/sports/m-baskbl/recaps/020216aaa.html#

I haven’t been posting too much about the Vols, but they had a week that deserves some attention. On Tuesday night, the men’s basketball team came back from 21 points down to beat Kentucky. Our team is unbelievably up and down (we have beaten the teams in the top of the league and lost to some at the bottom). As frustrating as that is, it does keep you watching. I was about ready to give up on them after they gave up 14 point leads in back to back games, but the win over Kentucky was big. Hopefully they can build some momentum for the second half of league play.

And on Wednesday, Butch Jones scored another good recruiting class on NSD. It was a bit down from years past (mostly due to limitations in the size of the class), but it met some needs for the Fall and makes the years ahead look bright.

All in all, pretty good week for Vols fans!

wm

(Oh, and almost forgot, our favorite quarterback is playing in an important game on Sunday! Go Broncos!)

Friday Sports etc: The Power of Sports


You are probably aware of what happened at the University of Missouri this week. Although my ignorance   of the situation forbids me from commenting on the larger issue of racism on the campus (many have commented in spite of that), I cannot help but be struck by the fact that the football team got the president fired. By refusing to practice and play, the president of the univerisity was forced to resign. As many have pointed out, such a move could have far-reaching consequences.

For example, let’s say that the players decide that they want to get paid for playing, an idea that is regularly tossed around concerning college athletics. Seemingly all they have to do at this point is demand it by refusing to play. If enough teams and coaches got together next year and refused to play without pay, then the powers that be would be left with few options:

1. Fiiiiirrre e’rbody: One option would be for the administrations to just fire the coaches and staff, find new players who would play for free and just start over. Practically though, this would never work. How could you find coaches and staff in such a short amount of time? And how could you replace the players? Nothing like watching the walk-ons duke it out on Saturdays, final score: 0-2 (the seventh overtime ended the game with a safety).

2. Cancel e’rything: No more season openers. No more TSIO (Third Saturday in October, for the non-Tennessee/Alabama fans). No more watching the polls to see who is going to make the playoffs. Heh, no more playoffs. Yeah, that ain’t going to happen. (We cannot comprehend how much revenue would be lost, which is really what is driving the whole thing).

3. Pay em’ their money: Write up the contracts (expecting negotiations and hold-outs). Write down the rules and salary caps and what-nots. And write your name on the checks!

Seriously though, in light of what happened at Mizzou, why would we not expect something like this happening in the near future? It seems like it is just a matter of time. And it is not that hard to understand how we got here: millions and millions of dollars (I didn’t actually do any calculating to arrive at that number, but it is fairly accurate). When the athletes realize how much their willingness to play is worth (especially in the sports of football and basketball), then they will know just how much power they have. It seems we are heading in that direction. Just not very confident that such power will be wielded well. Guess we’ll find out soon enough.

wm

Friday Sports etc:  Cardinals vs Cubs


The Cardinals did not follow my advice and went ahead and finished with the best record in baseball. Of course, they pretty much had to do that in order to win the division, so no big deal, right! I had a big long post going (read: floating around in my head) about how we never really know who the best team in a particular sport is due to flawed ‘playoff’ systems (hey at least college football has one now). But who wants to think about that when the Cards are playing the Cubbies? Let’s just enjoy the moment (that we have been waiting to happen for over 100 years). (And if the Cards don’t win the World Series, then we can talk about flawed post-seasons!)

Go Cards!

wm

Friday Sports etc: END THE STREAK! (Vols vs. Gators)


I have lived in the great state of Missouri for the last 10 years. In that time the Cardinals have won the World Series like four times, the Tigers have one the SEC East three times (meh), and the Sikeston Bulldogs won a state championship in basketball! Awesome.

And yet, there is one win in my world of sports that has escaped reality: Tennessee over Florida in football. 10 years of futility. 10 years of getting close or getting destroyed. 10 years of 0-1 to start SEC play. It is not encouraging.

For most of that time the Vols have been struggling to right the ship. Fulmer got forced out, Kiffin ran away in the night, and Dooley’s best accomplishment as the head coach at Tennessee involved his wardrobe (opportunityisnowhere). But we have hope in Butch Jones and that hope is based on more than the coaching ability of his dad (I’m looking at you Kiffin and Dooley). He has recruited well and we are at least as talented, if not more talented, than the Gators this year. We have more experience at the skill positions and have looked better than them on offense and special teams. Yet, they have a strong defense that shut down Kentucky last week (that sentence makes me laugh). Seriously though, the defense is good and our offense is still suspect, so anything could happen when we have the ball. Hard not to be nervous about that.

All in all, I think we can win and believe we should win. But we still have to actually do it (unlike the past 10 years). Come on Vols, my son Isaiah (who is seven) would like to see his first UT victory over Florida. I hope this is the year! END THE STREAK!

wm

(Photo: the irony is not lost on me that I chose to display my Vol doormat on this post)

Friday Sports etc: Tennessee vs. Oklahoma


The Vols get the Sooners tomorrow night in Neyland. (It’s a good thing we scheduled easy out of conference…take that all you SEC haters!) It should be a memorable game as both teams have the potential to have great years and they seem evenly matched (of course, one week of evidence does not really tell us much, but all factors considered, it should be close.) The Vols are obviously concerned about their pass defense which got torched for 400 yards against Bowling Green. The Sooners are hoping that their new offensive coordinator and his new scheme will pick up where it left off last week against Akron. Both have srengths and both have potential weeknesses. I guess the only thing left to do is line em’ up and snap the ball.
I feel good about this game for a few reasons:

  1. I like our running game: It is hard to stop a good running back. It is really hard to stop two. When you take two good running backs and pair them with a smart running quarterback, you just might have something special. Of course, you have to do it against a better defense than Bowling Green.
  2. Our secondary issues seem fixable: Last week was bad, but it seems like a number of factors worked against us: missing players, missing coach, missing playbook (they confessed to keeping it pretty vanilla). So that’s encouraging. Oklahoma is going to score some points on us, they have a good running back and decent recievers. But my hope is that they won’t simply be connecting on bombs all day. We need to make them work for every point they get. And hopefully #1 means we score more than them in the end.
  3. Special teams: Dude, who knew we might be really good at this? Bad news, it comes at the cost of risking our best DB on punt returns. But that’s no big deal, right? Right (scratches head and igonores #2)
  4. 102,000 enraged fans: Coach Stoops blew off the difficulty of playing in front of such a large this week. He is a smart man and a good football coach, but that sentiment doesn’t prove it. People will be loud just to be loud on Saturday night. Hopefully we can capitalize on that early and blare Rocky Top ALL NIGHT LONG. If I had anything to say about it, which of course I don’t, I would play a clip of him making those comments before every one of Oklahoma’s drives. That would be fun.
  5. 10 years of national obscurity: OK, if I am honest, this one actually makes me nervous a bit. I want to believe that we are due a big win, but then I am reminded of all the big games that we have lost over the past 10 years (not encouraging, thanks for the memories Kiffin and Dooley). In truth, I think Butch Jones has us in a good position to win a game like this. It may not happen tomorrow but I believe it will happen this year. We could just go ahead and win a few of them this year, starting with the Sooners.

The fun thing (and unbelivably frustrating thing) about sports is anything can happen. I honestly think we have a good shot for the above reasons. Looking forward to finding out! GO VOLS!

wm

Friday Sports etc: College Football returns!!

(Source: http://espnmediazone.com/us/press-releases/2014/11/espns-november-18-college-football-playoff-show-quotes-top-metered-markets/)

The long hot days of not much to watch in sports are over! Scores of 18-24 year olds will be putting on their pads and storming the fields on Saturday (actually some have already started). Coaches will be roaming the sidelines, yelling things I don’t want to hear. Fans will be pulling out the colors, piling on the paint, and heading to the stadium. And the rest of us will be at home enjoying it all on the flat screen. Or if you are like me and cannot justify the cable bill, listening to it on our iPads. It’s great fun.

The Vols open the season with Bowling Green. Although they are not a power-house program and I expect us to get the win, they do have a host of returning startes on offense and could be a challenge for our mostly young DL. I have high-hopes for the Vols this year and cannot wait to hear how they look on the field (cable bill, grumble, grumble).

In honor of the new season, and since as a Vol fan I will not be talking about the playoffs that much this year (maybe next year??!!!??!), I thought I would give you my completely unprofessional picks to make the final four this year:

  1. TCU: They probably should have made it last year so everyone feels a little guilty about that. They have a good team returning and if they can avoid two losses then they should be in.
  2. Ohio State: They return like errrbody to a team that looked great at the end of the year against the mighty Crimson Tide. I doubted them and they proved me wrong. Also, they seriously got an easy schedule again. I mean does anybody see two losses in their season? (You don’t count Jim Harbaugh)
  3. Oregon: I mostly picked them because I think they will win that conference out West in a convincing enough way to secure them a spot. We have to let somebody from out there in right? UCLA? Stanford? Who knows?
  4. ????????: So being an SEC fan, I want to put someone from the conference in my playoff predictions. The problem is that I don’t know if anyone is going to make it through with only one loss. Alabama (booooo) is the obvious choice, but they have several potential losses on their schedule (like the first week against Wisconsin, not saying they will lose but they could). Perhaps Auburn could make another run? But the fighting Muschamps on D might not be quite ready to shut down the rest of the West. Maybe this is Georgia’s year to finally avoid that head-scratcher loss, but even then, I think they play both Auburn and Alabama from the West this year, so good luck with that. To be honest, it seems like the SEC could be left out of the playoffs this year. But then who do you got? Florida State? Virgina Tech? Boise State? SEMO? Who knows, but it should make for an interesting year. Since I have to pick someone, I will go with the easy pick: Crimson Tide. I know, sounds a lot like last year. But it seems like the playoffs are set up to take one team from the Big 5 conferences, so it may be similar every year. Just have to wait and see!

Oh and “GO VOLS”!!!

wm

Friday Sports etc: Idiots Optimist Guide to the Vol Season (Rocky Top Talk)


My favorite place to get infomation on the Volunteers is Rocky Top Talk, the SB Nation site for the Vols. They normally post articles each day about everything that is going on with my favorite team, following the football and basketball programs the closest (which is what I mostly keep up with as well).

For the last few years, they always put up a post right before the football season that states plainly why we will go undefeated and win the national championship. Needless to say, it is a tongue-in-cheek article. Yet, it always gets me fired up for football time in Tennessee. So give it read, give it a laugh, and get ready for next Saturday when the madness truly begins.

Idiots Optimist Guide

wm

Friday Sports etc: Eric Berry returns


(Image credit: http://ftw.usatoday.com/2015/08/kansas-city-chiefs-eric-berry-moment-with-mom-cancer-free )

In the last 10 dismal years of being a Vol fan, there have been very few things to get excited about. Watching Eric Berry play was one of them. He was great as a Vol. I remember the pick six against Tebow (which I celebrated even though we got hammered in the game) and watching expectantly for him to break the NCAA INT return yards record (he ended up just a few yards short). He played hard and hit even harder. Fun times.

He was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs and has had a good carreer so far as a pro. To be honest, I have not seen him play much because I don’t watch the NFL, but I have stumbled across a few Chiefs’ games and watched them cause I know he was playing. He was doing well, but then life, or even worse, cancer, interrupted. He was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma last December. After taking treatments, he was cleared to play this season and made his return in the pre-season matchup with the Cardinals. The picture above is him and his mother hugging before the game began. Good stuff.

I hope he has a great year. But even more than that I hope he continues to be successful in his battle with cancer and the battle of life!

wm

Friday Sports etc: First Cardinals game

Thanks to some good friends (I’m looking at you, Gary and Sue), my son Isaiah got to go to his first professional baseball game on Monday night at Busch Stadium. The Cards were squaring off against the not-so-liked Cincinnati Reds (the fans booed when Brandon Phillips came to bat, which was humorous, and probably a teaching moment I failed to use).

Isaiah was in to the game for the most part. He was a bit distracted by the continuous yelling of the vendors selling their wares (he thought they were humorous, and they were). It was a good contest. The Cardinals got down by a run but loaded the bases in the fourth inning. With two outs and a full count, Kolten Wong blasted a shot into the Cardinals’ bullpen for a grand slam! How many folks get to see a grand slam at their first game? It was great.

The Cards went on to win the game 4-1 and Isaiah especially liked the fireworks at the end, which he got to enjoy after the grand slam as well. It was hot, it rained a bit, and we didn’t get home until after 1am, but it was about the best first game a kid could have (he still hasn’t stopped talking about it). Can’t wait to take him to more!

Here’s some pics:


Watching the game (even momma enjoyed the game since she got to talk with friends the whole time, see below)


Our view from Big Mac Land (Isaiah was intrigued by the dugouts, which are kind of strange if you think about it)

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Having some fun!

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A great crew (Thanks again Gary and Sue, pictured left, it was Sue’s first game as well, also fun to catch up with old friends Josh and Beth and their newest addition, who wasn’t quite up for the game just yet, but his day is coming).

wm