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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Cheers, apologies and prayer requests

Several weeks ago, in the middle of the flap over building a new on-campus stadium, the football Tigers were 1-4, and I basically asked question, if this is the best we can do, why build a stadium, hell, why keep the football program?

Oops.  Since that time, Joe Doss and Martin Hankins have fought past their injuries, Quinton McCrary quit the team with three games remaining in his senior season, and oh, by the way, the football Tigers have won 5 of 6 and clinched bowl eligibility.  Yes, you read that right.

Tommy, I apologize to you and the staff and the players; you knew something I didn't.  You knew that they would learn to win, which they have.  You knew that Martin and Joe would heal and get back to form, you knew the team would come together.

After MTSU, at which point we were 3-14 in the post DeAngelo era, all I could see is that we were headed back to putridity, and after watching Tiger football since 1972, I couldn't take it.  

But you knew, and we didn't, and for that I thank you.  

I was there yesterday as we broke our hideous 7-game losing streak to UAB (by the way, we never even beat them WITH DeAngelo Williams) and it was glorious to see Will Hudgens (he of the velcro-strip-looking mohawk) run to the table in the end zone after the game to claim the Battle For The Bones trophy, created for this series.  

Whether they go to New Orleans, Fort Worth or other points, yesterday was one of the greatest days in Tiger football history, and we should savor it.

Now then, some not-so-good news for the U of M, the city and the region.  In the middle of Geoff Calkins' column, which talked about various and sundry items having to do with change, came a bombshell:  Harold Byrd has been diagnosed with cancer.

Fortunately, after surgery and chemotherapy, Harold is expected to make a full recovery, and we are all pulling for him in these parts, even if he says our neighborhood is "in distress".  

Obviously, other than that disagreement, if you pay any attention to what happens in this city and this county, you know that if something good is being done here, Harold Byrd is never far away and is usually in the middle of it.  He cares deeply for his city and his University, and backs it up with action, whether it's raising LOTS of money or chairing committees; that's one reason Shirley Raines and RC Johnson are studying the idea of an on-campus stadium.

Harold Byrd is a treasure for the U of M, Memphis and the Mid-South; let's all send him our thoughts, prayers and well-wishes as he kicks cancer's ass and makes a full recovery.

4 comments:

Mr Turnbow said...

LWC I guess I should apologize as well for urging the U of M to fire Tommy and hire a Division 2 coach. I hope Mr Byrd gets better. It seems everyone is coming down with cancer these days. Did you see where Congressman Jim Saxton(R) has come down with cancer? That makes about six or seven people in Congress who have come down with it this year. Also my mom is going in Wednesday to have a cancerous tumor removed from her liver. Its getting pretty bad.

Lex27Allen said...

I must add my two cents here. LWC and I have talked about this subject before and the facts have not changed.

Yes, we have beaten Rice, UAB, and Southern Miss, but only the So. Miss win is a quality victory. None of our other wins have come against teams ranked in the top 95 teams (according to the CBS Top 120). We still have to recruit against at least 4 major SEC teams in our area and we still have a community college type fan base. While there are many avid fans like ourselves (I am a long-time season ticket holder), we are the minority among U of M fans.

I have not been calling for any of our coaches to be fired. However, if I were advising them, I would say, now that the team has made this big come back, it may be time to look for a better position elsewhere. We are never going to be a big time program unless we have something unique to offer the players, coaches, and the fans.

For these reasons, as well as the many fiscal concerns within the city of Memphis, it seems to me that this is not the time to spend a large sum of money we don't have on another stadium we cannot fill.

I continue to be a U of M fan, but, I know that unless we have a drastic change in our funding and attitude, we are not ready to play big time football. We made the necessary commitments in our basketball program but football will be much more expensive and I don't believe we have the necessary fan base yet.

Finally, I also wish to extend my best wishes to Mr. Byrd and all those who are dealing with cancer. Their strength is an example to us all.

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