Saturday, March 19, 2011

Speaking of Sports

This is going to be about college sports, about a school we love and the one we really, really don't, at least not in Memphis.

First, I believe the Tigers' year was a success, one that took the entire year for the players and coaches to figure out, even if it ended on a block of Wesley Witherspoon's shot.  (Look, even if it WAS a foul, they are not going to call that in that situation unless Wesley's head had rolled with the ball).  I look for EVERYONE to come back except the senior Will Coleman (yeah, Will Barton, I am talking to YOU) and I think they will be far better next year.

Now, I want to talk about the other team in our fair state that lost today, the thoroughly-whipped Tennessee Volunteers, about whose 30-point loss much schadenfreude flowed today.  Bruce Pearl, whom I have not liked since he got Illinois in trouble while he was an assistant elsewhere in the Big Ten, is on the hot seat due to recruiting violations, for which he sat out the first eight SEC games this season.  The UT athletic director, Mike Hamilton, will be meeting with the NCAA next week to discuss those violations, as well as those of Lane Kiffin, the quasi-wonder who high-tailed it to USC after one season.  Of course, Kiffin was partly to blame for USC's violations under Pete Carroll.

It could very well be that Pearl will be tossed out on his ear after the meeting with the NCAA, or maybe even before.  It's probable that he is guilty, but there are others who have survived far worse.

The combined problems of the football and men's hoops programs have cast an unfavorable (and deservedly so) light on AD Hamilton, who in the past few years A) dumped the man who had won their first football National Championship since 1951 when he canned Philip Fulmer after the 2008 season, B) hired the aforementioned Kiffin, who offended everyone not wearing orange and C) hired Pearl, who is arguably the most successful men's basketball coach in UT history (the only one to take UT's men to the NCAAs 6 straight years).

So, if the NCAA drops the hammer on UT, who takes the fall?  Not Kiffin, who is at USC paying for his mistakes as a Trojan assistant that SHOULD have fallen on the departed Pete Carroll.  Not Fulmer, who is still being paid off (and is no doubt laughing hysterically about this situation).

That leaves two people: Pearl, and the man who hired him, Mike Hamilton.

Whatever you think of Bruce Pearl (and I don't think much of him, believe me), understand that he did what he did because Hamilton turned a blind eye to it.  It is HAMILTON who has allowed the culture of men's athletics to fester into the oozing sore it has become, an embarrassment to the entire state.  He should go before Pearl.  And if the President of UT won't sack him, maybe he should go as well.

Remember, while I am a Memphian, I am also a Tennesseean for the last 39 years.  This reflects poorly on the state's signature university, and heads need to roll, starting with Hamilton.  As a Tennesseean, I believe it is necessary to restore the integrity of the University.

Ok, smart guy, who replaces him?

Well, there is someone well versed in intercollegiate athletics who understands what the athletic culture SHOULD be, who has always endeavored to have an integrity and work ethic unmatched, setting a standard for the athletes of the University.  If this person were hired, the culture would change and change quickly, for no one would dare cross them.

The only question is this: would she give up her current job to become athletic director?

Pat Summitt should be on the Mount Rushmore of collegiate basketball coaches, up there with Phog Allen, John Wooden and Dean Smith.  No human being has won more games as a head Division 1 basketball coach (women OR men), no one has more respect in the game of basketball, and no one would be better suited to change the culture that now permeates men's athletics at the University of Tennessee than Patricia Head Summitt.

She is an iconic figure, someone who could right the ship and set it on a course that wins the state's admiration instead of causing our citizens to slink away from it in shame.  She has courage and determination, and the respect of everyone.

If she will do it, I might even become a UT fan again, which I really haven't been since Johnny Jones of Munford played football for the Vols in the early 80s.

Coach Summitt, if the University comes to you, please consider it.  Other than slapping Geno Auriemma with a wet fish, what have you left to prove in basketball?  Your state needs you, and if they are smart, they will offer you the job.

Please take it, for the sake of the state.


Steve Ross said...

Wow, very good shit.

You made me think about that other orange team that I can't stand (the one other than Texas) and actually made me almost give a damn about them. Kudos!

If Pat Summitt gets the AD gig in Knoxville, I'll credit you. This is a very compelling argument.

The only downside, then I'll have to start giving a damn about one of the orange teams named UT.

Babbling Boomer said...

I'd be delighted to see Pat as AD. However, even if she is willing at this point, I don't see the current administration having the capability to recognize what their best move would be. Undoubtedly Coach Summitt as AD would address the glaring credibility issues surrounding the Athletic Department the last few years. My only other question is, who does Summitt hire to replace herself?

committed said...

I doubt Coach Summitt would do it, but I can honestly say - as a LIFELONG UT hater - that I actually felt sorry for those guys yesterday.

The AD is classless. There is NO way those kids should have had to deal with all of that press on top of trying to get ready to play in the NCAA Tourney. This thing has been ongoing for months, yet Hamilton has to make a statement THIS week?

Idiot. Long story short, I say they both need to go, but I agree with you in that if I had to choose, I'd take Hamilton first.

Anonymous said...

North Carolina in the Elite 8: Duke slaughtered in the Sweet Sixteen (love that alliteration: I'll have to use it more often. Its sound is melodious to mine not muffled ears). North Carolina 5 NCAA Championships: Duke 4. North Carolina has 3 coaches with NCAA Championships: Duke has 1. North Carolina put Larry Brown, Billy Cunningham, Bob MacAdoo, Bobby Jones, James Worthy, Sam Perkins, Kenny Smith, Brad Can't Spell His Name, but Played for Cleveland and Always Lost to OH, a certain guard from Wilmington who didn't at first make his High School team, Michael Jordan (who is no more of a jerk than Christian "Stomp on a Player's Stomach, but Didn't Get Kicked Out" Laettner)in the upper-echelons of the NBA. Duke put Gene Banks, Grant Hill, Loul Deng (who wouldn't be squat without Derrick Rose)and who, Mike Gminski? Please: North Carolina is the superior program. Case closed, Jon.