Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Illustration for article titled Tennessee Volunteers

1. The machines ... they're getting smarter. UT's freshman class has overcome being labeled "The Fab Five" by Knoxville media outlets to become a legitimate driving force on the court. Top-50 recruits Duke Crews, Wayne Chism and Ramar Smith have been particularly effective, finishing the regular season as three of the top five scorers for the Vols. Chism and Crews have split time at center this season, stepping in for dismissed senior Major Wingate, and lead the team in total rebounds. Crews is first in field goal percentage and blocked shots. And when they're on their game, there's not a whole lot you can do to contain them: The trio scored 15 of Tennessee's 22 overtime points in their victory over Texas in December. While the Vols will mourn the departure of beloved senior Dane Bradshaw at the close of tournament play, the continued development of Crews, Chism and Smith will make Tennessee a formidable opponent in the coming seasons.


2. A specter not felt. Coach Bruce Pearl drew national media attention for his shirtless, violently orange presence in the student section at a Lady Vols game in January. (Rumors that Pearl's skin was not, in fact, painted, but permanently dyed from sweating through his orange blazer have been dismissed as vicious conjecture.) Viewers across the country convulsed with laughter, horror or inexplicable arousal, unaware of just how recently they had escaped a similar terror: It seems that, prior to the Vols' first exhibition game on October 31, Pearl was taking suggestions from students for possible Halloween costumes. The most popular idea? Dressing him as Tennessee women's coach Pat Summitt. Mercifully, Pearl declined to combine his superhuman strength with the destructive power of Summit's mind-lasers, preventing certain apocalypse in Tennessee ... for now.

3. That noise. That infernal noise. It's arguably the most hated song in all of college sports. It's revered or despised by the entire known universe. And, oddly, "Rocky Top" isn't even the official Tennessee fight song. (Contrary to widely held belief, nor was it first developed as a neurological weapon.) The Pride of the Southland Marching Band debuted it at a football game in 1972; antennae across the state twitched in primal recognition at the mention of moonshine, and the rest is history. Leave it to an SEC school to abandon the perfectly proper "Down the Field" and adopt an ode to murder and grain alcohol as its anthem. — Holly Anderson

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