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Jarnell Stokes Staying At Tennessee

mrsec-breaking-newsTennessee forward Jarnell Stokes will stay at the school for his junior season.  The Memphis native had entertained the idea of entering the NBA draft but says he’s staying in Knoxville.

 

“After considering entering the NBA Draft, I have decided to return to Tennessee for my junior season. After talking with my family I have decided to come back and I am excited to return to the Vols. I am looking forward to playing with Jeronne (Maymon), Jordan (McRae), Trae (Golden) and my other teammates again. I think we are ready for a big season, one that will make Vol Nation proud.”

 

Stokes was Tennessee’s leading rebounder and second-leading scorer last season.  He had sixteen double-doubles, the most of any SEC player.

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UT QB Bray Says Hate Mail Led Him To Vent Via Tweet

If you’re the quarterback for a major college football team in an age when anonymous dimwits can send you nasty comments in a nanosecond all from under a veil of anonymity, you better be ready to take a whole lotta crap.  Tennessee QB Tyler Bray wasn’t… and he responded to said crap via Twitter on Saturday following the Vols 41-31 loss at Mississippi State:

 

“It’s hard because you put your heart out there and then go on your Twitter and see the hate mail.  You want to react, but you can’t.  I was just frustrated at the time.  It’s been two weeks in a row that we could have won, and it’s frustrating.”

 

For those keeping score at home, Bray tweeted that he hoped “bandwagon fans” of the Vols wouldn’t egg his home as some classless Georgia fans had done to Aaron Murray’s abode following the Bulldogs’ loss to South Carolina a week earlier.

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Ex-Vol Assistant Rips UT Chancellor

Tennessee chancellor Jimmy Cheek is not a very popular man among many Vol sports fans.  To them, he’s the man who wrongfully ran off Bruce Pearl.  (Nevermind the coach’s decision to break a rule he’d broken before or his decision to lie to NCAA investigators or his decision to ask others not to mention the broken rule.)

To date, Cheek has also failed to hire an athletic director to replace Mike Hamilton.  LSU AD Joe Alleva used UT as leverage to get a raise in Baton Rouge.  And multiple reports have claimed that Tennessee was on the verge of hiring Georgia Tech’s Dan Radakovich… right up until the NCAA dropped a bomb on him and his program, which left egg on the face of the Vol program.  (Nevermind the fact that both Radakovich and mutliple UT sources have said that Tech’s AD and Cheek never spoke face-to-face or even over the phone.)

Things have gotten so bad for Cheek, that there’s a growing number of Vol fans on messageboards and radio talkshows who believe he is secretly working to destroy Tennessee from the inside.  Cheek, you see, moved to Knoxville after working for years at the University of Florida.  Therefore, he’s viewed by some as a sort of UF sleeper cell who has infiltrated the infrastructure of one of the Gators’ biggest rivals in an effort to destroy its athletic department.

No.  We’re not kidding.

Well you can be sure this won’t help Cheek’s cause — former Pearl assistant Tony Jones has now taken some shots at the man who fired him, Pearl and two fellow assistants:


“The final straw for our coaching staff, according to UT chancellor Jimmy Cheek, was the alleged bump (violation) heard around the world, and it wasn’t even in the report and the Committee on Infractions deemed it not to be a violation at all…


I’m sure that makes the Vol Nation have a lot of confidence in Chancellor Cheek, who never even bothered to meet with our coaching staff.”

Ouch.  For those Vol fans who believe the school could have held onto Pearl (for three years without him being able to recruit or meet with prospects) and his staff (who would not be able to recruit or meet with prospects for one full year) this will serve as further proof of the grand Cheek Conspiracy.

However, as we noted yesterday, the NCAA did UT a favor when it alleged a bump violation that led to the basketball staff’s dismissal.  If not for that act, Tennessee would just now be moving into coach-finding mode.  And the school likely would have received multiple sanctions for keeping Pearl and — in effect — thumbing its nose at the NCAA, its rulebook and the integrity of its investigations.

Oddly enough, Tennessee got good news yesterday.  The NCAA made it clear that school officials had handled the lengthy investigation well.  As a result the NCAA even accepted the school’s self-imposed penalties and decided to assign no additional sanctions.  And what clearly helped the school was the firing of its basketball coach.

Yet for many in bright orange, yesterday was a bad day, not a good one.  Pearl was incredibly successful and popular.  In the view of some — better to hurt the program and try to keep the man than to dismiss the man and save the program.

When a fanbase is that dedicated to its (former) coach, it can’t bode well for the guy who fired him.  Even if doing so was the only realistic option available to him.

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Ex-Vol Aide Jones Wishes Martin Well

When you think of Twitter, you probably think of snide comments, misspelled insults, and 140-character micro-rants.  But in the case of former Tennessee basketball assistant Tony Jones, Twitter was his outlet to show a little class as he held the door open — figuratively — for new head coach Cuonzo Martin:


Congrats to Cuonzo Martin a very good person and a solid basketball coach.

Vol Nation give him time he will do a great job.


Considering the amount of hand-wringing in the aforementioned Vol Nation over Martin’s hiring, Jones’ comments were probably much appreciated by the new coach.

Jones served as Tennessee’s interim coach during Bruce Pearl’s 8-game suspension last season, going 5-3 over that stretch.

But not all of Jones tweets are of the lovey-dovey variety.  In case you’re wondering who UT’s coaches blame for ratting out their barbecue to the NCAA, check this posting from last Friday… moments after Kentucky’s victory over Ohio State in the NCAA Tournament.


Never thought I (would) say it Great Job Cal.  Have a good trip back to Columbus Thad.


Hmmm.

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Vols Facing No-Win Scenario In Pearl Case

Pity the University of Tennessee administration.  Their decision in September of 2010 to stand by Bruce Pearl is coming back to haunt them today.

For you fans of “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan,” UT is facing the Kobayashi Maru — the ultimate no-win scenario.  The school’s options are:


A) Fire the best (and most popular) basketball coach they’ve had in decades in an effort to stave off more serious NCAA penalties to the program (as well as further embarrassment for the university in the national press).  But by doing so, they would tick off a huge slice of their fanbase and likely set back their program for several years.

Or…

B) Keep Pearl, continue to be mocked in the press and await the NCAA’s ultimate judgement knowing that nearly 100% of coaches charged with lying to the NCAA and/or trying to get others to cover up are fired and given a two-year coaching ban.  The penalties against the school will no doubt be greater if Pearl is kept and it’s possible he could be suspended for two years and his ouster forced in the long run anyway.  Those sanctions and suspension would also likely set back their program back for several years.


Now that is a no-win scenario… and UT officials would not be in such a predicament had Pearl not put them in it.  By breaking some smaller rules and then lying about it — as his assistants did, too — he backed himself and the school to the edge of a cliff.  The only alternatives are bad and worse.  And bad would be misunderstood, making it worse.

Already, many Vol fans are threatening boycotts.  Athletic director Mike Hamilton is catching the blame for wanting Pearl fired.  Only he probably doesn’t want to fire his signature hire.

In reality, no one at UT is gleeful about the situation they’re facing.  If not for the black cloud of the NCAA floating over head, Pearl would be as safe as a coach can be.  But with that black could very much in place, UT’s powerbrokers have apparently decided to choose the lesser of two evils and Hamilton is left to deliver the news to angry fans.

I have a pet and my vet recently discovered cancer in his leg.  I had the tumor removed and am hopeful that the cancer won’t return.  But if it does, I’ll face a pretty horrible set of alternatives — amputate the leg in an effort to save my pet or put him to sleep.  Believe me, I’ve stressed over that “what if” scenario.  If I choose to go the amputation route, it won’t be because I want to do it.  It will be done to avoid the more horrible option of putting a good friend down. 

UT’s powers-that-be are faced with a horrible scenario of their own.  Protect the coach who’s done more for their program than any other since the 1970s… or protect the program that he’s built up.  To put it bluntly, do they amputate Pearl in an attempt to save their program?

If the school had simply said last September that it was forcing Pearl to resign, everyone would have placed the blame on the coach for committing serious NCAA sins — lying and covering up.  But by announcing to the world that they would stand by him, UT officials sent a powerful message to Vol Nation that Pearl’s acts weren’t all that bad and that the school had his back. 

Now, faced with the threat of worse penalties and publicity than they had initially imagined, it seems the folks in Knoxville have realized that they made the wrong call back in September.  Too bad for their sakes that they’ve been standing by that decision so steadfastly and so loudly for six months.

The fact that they have only makes a no-win scenario even worse.

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