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Sunday, December 23, 2007
Why let silly things like facts stand in the way of a good column?
Ah, the Tennessean...you have to love it, don't you?

Especially resident UT hater Joe Biddle who rarely lets facts get in the way of a good story.

Yesterday's column was critical of the UT football team for having six players declared academically ineligible for the Outback Bowl. Now, I will be the first to admit that this is pretty embarrassing and a definite black mark on the UT program. It's a shame these young men who are being given this incredible opportunity for an education aren't taking advantage of it.

Biddle is quick to assign blame for it, of course. Well, let's read and find out...

Blame the athletes

First, you blame the athletes. They knew they weren't getting the job done in the classroom. They selfishly ignored the rules at the expense of their teammates.

Second, UT built a state of the art academic support building. Anyone working there monitoring football players' class attendance? Anyone monitoring their mid-term progress? Anyone talking to their teachers to see who was having trouble?

If not, why not?

Third, blame the assistant coaches. They are with these young men every day, hours at a time. Surely, they talk about things other than football. They should be talking about life skills, academic responsibilities, avoiding trouble by making sound decisions.

Fourth and foremost, this one belongs to Fulmer. This is his ship and it is no stranger to rough waters.

On Fulmer's watch

It's an indictment of the school to have six scholarship football players fail to pass enough semester hours. They are given free tuition, free books, free tutors, free meals and a free place to live. Is asking them to pass minimum requirements too much?

Where were the red flags? Where were the checks and balances? Is the current system flawed? If so, fix it. Put some teeth in it. Cutting corners applies off the field as well as on the field. It will get you beat every time.

Lucas Taylor reportedly passed enough hours to remain eligible, but was nailed by a new NCAA policy that went into effect this fall. Again, anyone make Taylor aware of the rule?

So the Vols who do the right things will now play Wisconsin on New Year's Day with one arm tied behind them — because a few selfish players and adults monitoring them weren't doing their job.

Athletics Director Mike Hamilton has stated he will give Fulmer an extension and probably a raise for this season's progress.

What a mistake it would be.

It's at this point that Biddle writes not from what he knows or has bothered to research. If he had bothered to spent five seconds looking at the facts here instead of rushing to blame UT and Fulmer for every thing that goes wrong, he'd learn some things. In the old days, coaches were able to keep up with players during the semester by talking to their professors, academic advisors, etc. However, with new NCAA rules, they can't do this and have as much of a hands-on approach to making sure the kids are in class, doing what they need to do to get their education.

But this little nugget of truth and wisdom doesn't enter Biddle's radar, of course. All you have to do is listen to him on the radio and read his columns to know he hates UT. Why I'm not sure. We must have wronged him somehow in the past and so he whips out his ax to grind at every chance. And the sad part is that if you don't know any better, you'd think he had a valid, legitimate point.

But he doesn't. He's just blowing hot air. And proving to the world once again that he's an ass...

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 12/23/2007 06:36:00 PM | |
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