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Wednesday, April 13, 2005
Volunteer athletics in the spotlight.
Going into spring practice this year, there were a lot of questions surrounding the Vols for the 2005 season.

But I never expected one of the biggest questions would be--well, who got arrested today?

Monday the news broke that Brent Shaeffer and Bret Smith were arrested late Sunday night for getting into an altercation. This brings the total of arrests for the program to 11 in the past 13 and 1/2 months. Not exactly a good statistics.

Phillip Fulmer immediately suspended both players indefinitely and says he's looking into why this is happening at Tennessee. I wish I knew. There's been a lot of debate about the players here in Nashville on the call in shows and in the paper. Local call-in show Blake Fulton, who never has a kind word to say about Tennessee, seems to be gloating that the Vols are in trouble and screaming for Fulmer to take "control of his team." Meanwhile local curdgeon turned sports columnist David Climer has been piling on as well. I guess they're hoping to give the Vandy fans some modicrum of hope that maybe they might stand a snowbell's chance in hell of beating Tennessee this fall.

(Note to Vandy fans: Satan called, it's still hot down there....)

But back to my point. It'd be easy to say that any big time, top 10 program will have this problems and dismiss it as that. Certainly I can now feel a bit more empathy for my football fan brothers and sisters in Colorado. But saying--oh, it just happens, doesn't make it OK. There are some fans who will scream--we should know more about their character before we bring them in. Well, yes, but these are also 18 year old men. There may not be a pattern to this behavoir coming into the university. Also, let's face it--there are going to be some people who will delibarately antagonize a football player into a fight. It's not right, but it happens. Especially in the wake of the negative publicity now surrounding the University of Tennessee football program.

The thing is that it is becoming a bit obvious that, for some, discipline is not a big thing on the football team. Either that or the players feel they are above the rules.

And they're not. Nor should they be.

But what we also have to remember is these are 18 or so year old kids who are out on their own for the first time. They are gonna do some stupid things--and getting into a fight when you're a high profile football player is one of them. Fulmer now has the unenviable talk of weighing what is best for the players individually with the overall interst of UT football. Are the Vols better off long-term without them? Should they get a second change? Is there an epidimic occuring here and we need to have more severe conseuqences? Should it be "one strike, you're out" rule to scare those left into shape?

I'm not sure of the answers...and not just becuase it's Tennessee. I want to see the Vols win. But I have to ask myself--at price are we paying for the success? Is it better for Fulmer to make a difference in these young men's lives now by making them accept severe consequences for their actions or is it better for us to be undefeated next year and have these discpline problems keep rearing their ugly heads?

There's no easy answer to any of it, despite what Blake Fulton and David Climer would have us think...

Meanwhile, on the basketball front, local star Jamont Gordon has earned a big Steewie from Family Guy, "Why don't you shut the hell up?!?"

Gordon came out yesterday, saying new basketball coach Bruce Perl had made his "first big mistake" as men's basketball coach by allegedly snubbing him. Gordon is apparently miffed that Perl went out to see Tyler Smith and Brandon Wright and never came to see him. So he's signed with Mississippi State out of spite.

Well, Jamont, let's look at it this way. You had not, of yet, signed with UT. You were leaning toward it. Tyler Smith has signed with UT so you know, you gotta take care of those on the roster first. Plus, from my understanding, Gordon's official home visits by UT were used up. So what Gordon wants is for us to violate NCAA rules for him. Yeah, no player is worth that in my mind. As for Perl visiting Wright, from what I understand, Wright's home is near Smith's so it makes sense that Perl would stop by.

Sounds to me more like Gordon is whining because he's used to being the big fish in a small pond. He may have all the talent in the world, but he needs to check his ego a bit. If he's gonna be this selfish in recruiting, imagine how he'd be as a player on our team. I think maybe UT's loss is actually a gain in the long run.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 4/13/2005 12:35:00 PM | |
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