Losing Pat Summitt

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By Owen Driskill

I am on the verge of tears today.

I never met Pat Summitt. I never bought a ticket to a Lady Vols basketball game. Other than bits of Final Four appearances or championship games, I barely watched Tennessee women’s basketball. I doubt I ever watched a game from beginning to end.

Don’t get me wrong, I have some Lady Vols bona fides. I know the big names off the top of my head: Parker, Catchings, Marciniak, Holdsclaw. I am of the opinion that Geno Auriemma can kiss the State of Tennessee’s collective big orange ass. (It’s a sad day, but I think Pat Summitt would have approved of that sentiment.)

But, the bottom line is I have been to a UT football game every year since 1982. I have listened to football call-in shows, bitched about coaches, followed recruiting, second-guessed play calls, and high-fived strangers after big football wins. Not once, in all those years, did I ever sit in the arena and watch the Lady Vols.

When I heard the news about Pat Summitt, though, I knew that she is the only UT coach who ever has, or ever will, put me on the verge of tears. She transcended her sport and became woven into my identity as a Tennessean. I don’t know when that happened or how, but it did.

What does is mean to be a Tennessean? It means the mountains. It means orange. It means sipping Old No. 7 or some of that stronger stuff from up in the hills. It means the river, the lake, Clingmans Dome and Rocky Top. It means Music Row and Beale Street, barbecue and, well, more barbecue.

And for all these years, it mean being from the home of the best damn coach that ever was or will ever be.

1098 wins

eight national titles

100 percent graduation rate

I lost someone today, someone I never met but who meant more to me than I realized because she represented the very best of what it means to be from Tennessee.

I am on the verge of tears today. Time to let them fall.

 

 

Quick slants: Mizzou protest and Clemson paranoia

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By Owen Driskill

 

The politics of the Mizzou protest aside — Clay Travis pretty well covered that here and here — the fascinating question is what was the game plan for Missouri’s coaches if most of the team decided not to play? Your best bet has to be to find some decent ex-football players on campus who played option football at small schools and run the triple option or the veer, right?

Did a bunch of Missouri coaches making seven or six figures each spend all day Sunday and Monday watching game film of the fraternity flag football championship? I would love to have been at that meeting.

Assistant coach: Looks like Chet from Sig Ep has a pretty decent arm, and the big kid from Pike could hold his own at guard.

Head coach Gary Pinkel: What is the big kid’s name?

Assistant  coach, shuffling through some papers: On the sign-in sheet here, it, um, just says … Keg Masher.

Pinkel, taking a long sip of his whiskey-laced coffee: Then somebody get me a goddamn scouting report on Keg Masher.

We’re at DEFCON 2 with Clemson

OK, fellow Clemson fans, we’ve officially reached Threat Level Midnight with our Tigers. That means the following protocols must be put in place immediately.

  • Whatever you wore last Saturday, you will wear the rest of the season. You had to put on your ripped boxers with the loose waistline because you forgot to do laundry? Tough. You’ll wear those tattered bastards every Saturday and like it. Any change, ANY CHANGE, in your routine could cost us.
  • It’s time for a media blackout. ESPN pundits are on TV talking about Clemson? Switch over to Pawn Star Duck Hunters, or whatever the hell is on TV. You don’t read one word about Clemson, not one tweet. Who does Clemson play next week? You don’t know.
  • If anyone asks if Deshaun Watson has a chance to win — I won’t write the words here, but let’s just say they rhyme with Breisman Brophy — you turn around and walk away.

These measures may seem harsh, but everything you do from this point forward absolutely could affect whether Clemson wins or loses. We’re through the looking glass here, people. Don’t screw this up.

Be careful, Georgia, be very, very careful about wanting to fire Mark Richt

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By Owen Driskill

 

We’ve been down this road, Georgia.

Back in 2009, Tennessee fans and I threw some Natural Light six packs into the back of Jimmy’s jeep, picked up a couple of hot chicks, and headed to Camp Crystal Lake for some high jinks. We thought we had it all, man. Who needed that old, Hall of Fame coach? Time to chill at the lake, crack a beer and sweet talk these chicks into skinny-dipping.

Yes, we ran into the creepy old guy at the gas station. He tried to warn us about Jason Voorhees. “Turn back,” he said, “or you’re doomed.”

We didn’t listen. Next thing you know, we got stabbed in the neck by a guy in a hockey mask (turned out to be Lane Kiffin). Just when that nightmare ended, here comes Derek Dooley, machete in hand, hacking away at our football program. His hair looked fantastic, though, even in the hockey mask.

Be careful, Georgia. Be careful about tossing aside Mark Richt and his nine wins a year for a beer-fueled trip to Camp Crystal Lake. You don’t understand how quickly your whole program can wind up chopped into little pieces to the point you are grateful for six wins and a Liberty Bowl bid.

If you must make a change, keep this in mind.

  • Be careful of hiring a “Georgia guy,” especially if Georgia Guy has never been a head coach.
  • Be careful of hiring The Opposite of Richt. Let’s be honest Tennessee fans. Until he bolted, we loved Kiffin. He was The Opposite of Fulmer, meaning he was brash and aggressive. He also lacked loyalty, character, experience, expertise, and management skills. But hey, at least he wasn’t Phil.

The bottom line, Georgia, is that if you let Richt go, either directly or by making it clear he is no longer welcome, the next hire will define your program for at least 10 years. We apparently passed on good options such as David Cutcliffe and Kevin Sumlin, and we got a machete in the back for our trouble.

Be careful, Georgia or you’re doomed. You’re all doomed.