Tennessee cruises past Wright State, advances to Round of 32

No. 3 seed Tennessee dominated its opening round of the NCAA Tournament with a 73-47 win over 11th-seeded Wright State Thursday afternoon. The Volunteers will play Loyola-Chicago in the Round of 32 on Saturday.

The SEC’s Co-Sixth Man of the Year Lamonte Turner, led the Vols with 19 points and a career-high nine assists. The Volunteers looked confident after a shaky start. The Vols did not score on their first five attempts of the game, but they got it going after a 3-pointer from forward Admiral Schofield.

Schofield continued his productive run, finishing the day with a double-double in a 19-point, 12 rebound performance. After sitting out nearly seven minutes of Tennessee’s SEC Tournament Championship loss to Kentucky, Schofield came out of the gate firing and did not let up. A thunderous dunk from Schofield in the second half sealed the deal for the Vols.

Sophomore forward Grant Williams nearly missed a double-double, finishing the day with 14 points and nine rebounds. The Volunteers’ big man slammed an authoritative dunk in the first half, which woke up the Tennessee fans and teammates alike. Center Kyle Alexander also made two key blocks in the game that helped the Vols pull away and keep their momentum going.

The Vols forced the Raiders to shoot just 32 percent from the field and 19 percent from beyond-the-arc in the game. Meanwhile, the orange-and-white capitalized with 45 percent shooting from the field and five 3-pointers.

Tennessee Head Coach Rick Barnes refuses to let his team overlook opponents.

“You’re saying can we out-talent clubs? No, we’ve never looked at that,” Barnes said. “One thing we’ve told our players, and we say it all the time, everybody can play. I do think hard work is a talent. I don’t think that’s a given.”

Williams later gave the key to his dominant rebounding against Wright State.

“Really, I’ve just been pursuing the ball more,” Williams said. “Normally I try and box guys out and make sure to keep them off the glass and allow other guys to get it because that’s just how I used to do it.”

Tennessee will take on No. 11 seed Loyola-Chicago on Saturday, but the start time has not yet been released.

Edited by Seth Raborn/Lexie Little

Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

Hunley leads Vols past Western Carolina

Freshman pitcher Sean Hunley threw a complete game in Tennessee’s mid-week matchup against Western Carolina on Wednesday at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. The Vols won 5-0 behind Hunley’s three strikeouts in Knoxville to win their fourth-straight game.

The true freshman now sits with 3-0 record on the season after his impressive shutout performance. Hunley pitched over 21 straight shutout innings for the orange-and-white.

Tennessee got its bats going early when they scored three runs in the first inning. Senior catcher Benito Santiago got the scoring started for the Volunteers with an RBI single to center field.

Sophomore Justin Ammons also earned himself an RBI after driving in a bases loaded walk, while outfielder Brodie Leftridge rounded out the first inning scoring for Tennessee with a sacrifice fly to bring a run home.

Vols freshmen Zach Daniels, Brandon Chinea and sophomore Andre Lipcius also drove in runs. Lipcius notched two hits on the day and also drove in a pair of runs. In the sixth inning, Chinea hit an RBI infield single while Daniels brought in the Chinea for the final run of the game in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Tennessee Head Coach Tony Vitello highly praised his freshman pitcher’s dominating performance.

“It’s massive, you put him out there and he gives you a sense of calm. That improves the quality of play and decision making of everyone,” Vitello said. “It certainly helps you when you can go into the weekend with a fresh bullpen.”

Hunley commented on what his team needs to do to keep their four-game winning streak going.

“We’ve got to keep the bats hot,” Hunley said. “Continue being aggressive at the plate and keep the same defense we’ve been playing with.”

Tennessee will travel to Oxford for a three-game series against Ole Miss to open its SEC schedule. Game one of the series is set for 8 p.m. ET on Friday. The Vols look to stay hot against the No. 8 ranked Rebels and keep their four-game winning streak alive.

Santiago looks to stay focused into conference play.

“I tell them to stay focused and don’t give into what other people are saying,” Santiago said. “The game doesn’t change and that’s one thing I let them know. It’s roundball still, but with more fans. You’re playing the game of baseball.”

Edited by Seth Raborn/Lexie Little

Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

Neyland Stadium Jumbotron finished

After months of question and confusion, the jumbotron atop Neyland Stadium finally received an update. Tennessee added former team captain Al Wilson, hall of fame head coach Robert Neyland and Jason Witten as the three new pictures displayed on the jumbotron.

Before the update, Butch Jones, General Neyland and Reggie White loomed over the Tennessee River. Fans expressed outrage and confusion after Jones continued to stay on the jumbotron despite being fired in November 2017. Nearly four months later, crews removed the former coach’s image.

Many fans were content with leaving Neyland and White on the jumbotron, but the university decided to change all three. While Neyland remains on the jumbotron, he has a new picture. Neyland was previously shown in a Volunteers baseball jersey but is now shown in his iconic kneeling position, much like the one his statue portrays in the concourse of the stadium.

Wilson replaced Jones on March 5. The former linebacker Wilson was captain of the 1998 National Championship team and went on to play eight years in the NFL after his tenure from 1995-98 as a Vol.

Jason Witten replaces Reggie White. Witten played for the Vols from 2000-2003 and left after his junior season for the NFL. Witten played all 15 seasons of his pro career with the Dallas Cowboys. The Elizabethton native left Tennessee with the third-most receptions by a tight end and fourth-most receiving yards by a tight end in program history.

With the new trio of Wilson, Neyland and Witten ready to go for the beginning of the Pruitt era, Vols fans look forward to the coming season. Though pictures on a jumbotron seem like little to celebrate, Tennessee fans will take any good news after a disastrous 2017 season. If this change is any indication about the Volunteers program moving forward, great things are set to come.

Edited by Seth Raborn

Featured image courtesy of Mark Nagi 

College Sports Revenue

 

Amateurism is quickly becoming the most understated word in collegiate sports. That’s because by now most people know better. Collegiate athletics has the ability to give an institution millions of dollars in revenue, while making their name and brand more popular. For instance did you know, that a school that wins the NCAA men’s basketball tournament receives an average increase in applications by 10% (Glatter, Hayley;2017. The Atlantic, The March Madness Application Bump)? Doing well in athletics, means flourishing in revenue stream…… and schools know it. That is why the pressure is so high to win, and it’s why some college coaches are paid so handsomely well. For example the SEC arguably the toughest football conference, owns 9 of the top 25 highest paid football coaches in the country, the conference only has 14 schools! Nick Saban, who coaches in the SEC for Alabama is the nations highest paid coach at $11 million, while Butch Jones was the nations 20th highest paid coach, Tennessee pays him $4.1 million annually.

The SEC has a zero tolerance for losing, that is why in the 14 team conference 6 of the schools are currently replacing their football coaches. All 6 schools except for one (Mississipi State) fired their head coaches, because of disappointing regular season results. The story that strikes closets to home, is Tennessee’s Butch Jones. Jones was fired after a 51-17 loss to Mizzou which left the Volunteers 4-6 overall and 0-6 in the SEC. Much of the fan base questioned why Jones wasn’t let go after the humiliating loss to Georgia, but rumors swirled it was Jones contract that saved him. Fans speculated the school did not want to buy Jones out of his contract for $9 million. The people that believed these rumors were enraged, after all Tennessee has money to spend, and a lot of it. We know this because Tennessee’s athletic Director, John Currie recently laid out plans to renovate Neyland at all small cost of 300 million. On top of that UT is constantly in the top 10 colleges for athletic revenue! (Strange, Mike; 2017. USA Today, University of Tennessee top 10 nationally in sports budget) so….. they got money.

Because of the monster revenue athletics brings to school, sometimes athletics is treated as business. Players may illegally receive money, to come play for a certain school, salaries for coaches are at an all time high, and of course the possibility for these athletes to go professional. Schools pay top dollar, to make sure they have a state of the art facility, anything for that competitive edge. A review from the Washington Post was conducted in 2014, on how much the athletic departments at 48 schools, from the 5 wealthiest conferences in college sports spend on their facilities. These 48 schools reported spending a combined $772 million on athletic facilities, up 89% from 2004. For an example that hits close to home, the University of Tennessee finished the new Anderson Athletic center in 2013, that is reported to have cost the school $45 million.

 

In some places winning is everything, just look at Miami’s Mark Richt, he was fired at Georgia, after going 10-3! Let me say that again 10-3! Most schools would be throwing millions at Richt to stay there, not Georgia. The worst part, it doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon. With schools receiving Nike deals, Adidas deals, TV deals, etc. college revenue will only continue to steadily raise, after all it was just last year that UCLA received a $280 million deal from Under Armor to become the school’s apparel sponsorship. The Under Armor deal is reported as the largest deal in college sports history.

 

It’s really quite amazing how much money college athletics generates, when you realize only two sports in the institution actually generate a surplus in money. Basketball and football, baseball I believe has the potential to make a lot of money, but that’s years away. Unfortunately the intitutions other sports, soccer, gymnastics, volleyball do not receive very much attention from fans and boosters alike, and that shows in a lot of ways. The first things you notice about the other sports, is they do not receive nearly the same attention from the media as football and basketball. No tabloids come out about soccer, and gymnastic is never televised. Another thing you noticed is coaches in the other sports are not nearly paid as well. Revenue in college sports…….. it’s a business.

 

 

Tennessee handles Southern Miss in 101st homecoming game

Tennessee (4-5, 0-5 SEC) needed all the defensive help they could get to stretch open their lead against the Golden Eagles of Southern Miss. With two third quarter forced turnovers, the Volunteers were able to edge past Southern Miss by a score of 24-10. Junior running back John Kelly led the team with two touchdowns on the ground.

The 94,000 fans who embraced Neyland Stadium for the Volunteers annual homecoming game where treated to an exceptional game to say the least.

Tennessee got off to a quick start after Evan Berry’s 46-yard return from the opening kick-off. With Jarrett Guarantano under-center, the Vols marched right down the field with several huge plays from wide receiver Marquez Calloway and Kelly. Nine plays later, Guarantano found the checkerboard with a 3-yard scramble.

The score would remain 7-0 until the middle of the second quarter when the Golden Eagles would get on the scoreboard with a Parker Shaunfield 27-yard field goal, finishing off a 10 play, 77-yard drive.

Tennessee would extend its lead to 10-3 going into halftime with a 38-yard Aaron Medley field goal. The 12 play, 68-yard scoring drive featured two quarterbacks after Guarantano went down with an apparent lower body injury, forcing true freshman Will McBride to lose his redshirt status and go under center for the Volunteers.

Although McBride only took three snaps on the drive, the young quarterback would get his chance to lead Tennessee out of the tunnel in the second half. With Guarantano sidelined for the second half and a true freshman under center, the Volunteers defense needed to deliver some good field position—and they did.

The first turnover of the night would come from senior cornerback Emmanuel Moseley, who intercepted Southern Miss quarterback Keon Howard’s errant pass. Moseley would take the ball 19-yards the other way, setting up a 20-yard sprint on the first play from scrimmage from Kelly.

Tennessee’s defense would strike again on the very next Southern Miss drive. Darrell Taylor came up with a huge strip-sack, forcing Howard to put the ball on the ground. Raashaan Gaulden of the Vols would eventually recover the fumble on the Southern Miss 24-yard line, giving Tennessee quarterback Will McBride solid field positioning to stretch out the lead.

After an unsportsmanlike penalty on a 30-yard Medley field-goal attempt, Kelly would punch it into the end-zone from the three yards out. This extended the Vols to a commanding 24-3 lead with three minutes remaining in the third quarter.

The Golden Eagles would finally add seven points to the scoreboard after true-freshman quarterback Kwadra Griggs found the end-zone with a one-yard scramble. The 10 play, 90-yard drive gave the Golden Eagles life with 6:42 remaining in the fourth.

The Volunteer defense would lock it down for the remainder of the game. After the offense stalled out with five three-and-outs in the fourth quarter, the Volunteers defense was able to hold off the Southern Miss to seal Tennessee’s homecoming victory.

The Volunteers will hit the road next week, traveling to Columbia to take on the Tigers of Missouri at Memorial Stadium. The game is set to kick at 7:30 ET and can be viewed on the SEC Network.

Edited by Seth Raborn 

Featured image courtesy of UT Sports