Sunday, February 24, 2008

All the top

On a night when Chris Lofton played only 27 minutes, and hit only 2 field goals, neither of them treys; On a night JaJuan Smith played only 27 minutes and scored only 9 points; On a night when Tennessee had more turnovers than their opponent; On a night when Tennessee was playing in the most hostile environment it may have ever seen; On a night when the pressure was undoubtedly greater than it's ever been; On a night when Memphis was shooting for 48 straight home wins; On a night when Memphis was shooting for 27 wins in a row; On a night when Tennessee hit only 6 three pointers, and Memphis hit eight in the first half; On a night when everyone was talking about the elusive undefeated season in store for Memphis; On a night when Memphis had 5 more steals than Tennessee; On a night when Memphis blocked 9 shots and Tennessee blocked only 3; On a night when Tennessee turned the ball over more than it's opponent; On a night when the world was watching; On a night at Fed Ex Forum; On a late-February night against the number ranked and undefeated Memphis Tigers on their own home court; On a night when most people thought it was all too much for Tennessee to overcome; Tennessee Overcame. Tennessee showed the whole country that they could beat anybody. Tennessee showed they could do it even if Chris had a bad shooting night; Tennessee showed resolve. Tennessee hit crucial free throws down the stretch. Tennessee showed grit; Tennessee showed heart; Tennessee showed pride; Tennessee showed determination. Tennessee stood tall; The Vols painted a solid blue city orange. The Vols painted the whole state orange. Tennessee had done what no other team could do on Memphis' home court since 2006; Tennessee did what no other team has been able to do this season; Tennessee showed that the city of Memphis, is still in the state of Tennessee. Tennessee won.
When I woke up yesterday morning, Tennessee was the 2nd best team in the country. When I went to bed last night, Tennessee was the number 1 ranked team in the country.
On a beautiful Tennessee night in late February, there were no Blue Devils. There were no Tar Heels. There were no Jayhawks. There were no Bruins.
There were only Volunteers. Clad in orange, they were all alone. For the first time. At the top.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The best "greatest blunder" ever

Think back. It's 2005 and the big news in Knoxville is that the new athletic director at Tennessee has just fired the basketball coach at Tennessee. Four years after being hired, Buzz Peterson was let go in a wake of controversy.

A lot of fans were very vocal in voicing their disapproval of this move. Let me share with you some quotes from message boards on the Knoxville News Sentinels web site back in August of 2005:

"I think UT should have given Buzz at least one more year! It's not like the Vols lost games by large margins..."

"With the way Jerry Green was treated, and now Buzz, we will not be able to attract another good coach. He was bringing integrity first to our Bball team and given some time would have brought the winning record. Mike Hamilton will see him down the road and wish he had done things differently."

"Do the research, Mike Hamilton has NEVER COACHED ANYTHING according to his positions history on How does he know what it takes to hire and fire a coach?"

"Mr. Hamilton just made the biggest blunder of his career."

"Honestly, I don't know why UT keeps a men's program. It's like having a bird dog that can't point. Sooner or later you either get him fixed or your put him down. 6 coaches in 16 years was the getting him fixed's time to put him down."

...And that is just a few of the comments made, and that is just online. That doesn't even touch what people were saying on TV, radio and even in the Tennessee coaching fraternity. If you remember, Pat Summitt and even Peyton Manning came out saying they didn't support the decision and that they were behind Peterson all the way.

Just for the record, I was part of the "let him go" crowd, because he had done nothing to further Tennessee basketball. All he did was bring false hope as had many before him. When it came to wins and losses, Tennessee stayed the course of being mediocre.

It's amazing what a few years can do as far as perception goes huh? I wonder what all of those naysayers have to say now? I would love to hear what they think. For the first time in history, the Vols are ranked #2 in the nation, are a projected #1 seed in the tournament and riding the 4th longest home winning streak in the country. They have a multi-million dollar practice facility and by far the best on campus basketball arena in the country. They are selling out games, and leading the nation in attendance. These aren't opinions now folks, they are facts and it's all because of 2 people. 1. Mike Hamilton (who was said to be making the biggest blunder of the year by hiring a no-name from Wisconsin Milwaukee and getting rid of Buzz Peterson.) and #2: Bruce Pearl. Quite possible the best coach to grace the University of Tennessee campus since the General.

Pearl has proven to be the real deal and has silenced all of the naysayers from years past. He has turned false hope into real, honest to goodness basketball. He has shown that he is a man of character and charisma. Someone who cares about basketball and someone who saw a chance to do something big for a University that had never tasted basketball quite like this. This guy gives his all to this University and to the ball team, and he does it all the time, day in, day out. He has gained the respect of the whole campus, and the whole Vol Nation. In hind site, it looks like Mike Hamilton knew what he was doing after all.

Vol fans are now turning out in droves to see what no other coach could do at Tennessee. Win, and win big.

This Saturday, the vols will take on the #1 team in the land. Undefeated Memphis. But this time, they will be right there with them with the #2 ranking. Thats right. There is no Duke, or North Carolina between them. It's Tennessee and Memphis. 1 vs 2 in an in-state rivalry that has the biggest of implications.

Win or lose, I'll be happy. Disappointed, but happy. Not because we might lose, but because we were in a position to be playing the best team in the country in February and we were doing it as the 2nd best team in the country...and I'll take that any day over any team coached by Jerry Green, Kevin O'neill or Buzz Peterson.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A note of thanks and gratitude

Like many folks on Sunday after church, my wife Olivia and I went out to eat with some friends. We had a very good meal at new Japanese Steakhouse close to our house and really enjoyed the food, fun and fellowship. After our meal, we kept waiting on our ticket, but it didn't come. An older couple who ate at the same table as us, got their tickets and paid and left, leaving us wondering why we had never received our ticket. Finally, one of our friends at the table asked the waiter about our ticket, and was told that someone else had picked up our tab and that we were free to go. We were a bit shocked. We really don't know who did this, but whoever did, thought enough of us to pick up not only my family's tab, but the other 2 couples we were with as well. There is a small chance that one of the couples we were with picked up the tab and just didn't want us to know, but either way, the deed was done. For this genuine act of kindness, I am very thankful, yet I don't know who to thank. I guess the whole point of us not knowing who it was was so that it would be anonymous, but it still feels nice to be able to thanks someone.

With that said, in a world that is seemingly more and more crowded with selfish people who care only for themselves and their own interests, it is comforting to know that there are still those out there who put others in front of themselves. Those who's kindness shines brighter than they know. I know that I am touched but this, and while it doesn't seem like a big deal, it's caused me to take a step back and ask myself, "What have I done for someone else today?" There are many people out there who might be having a bad week or a bad day, and you never know what affect one act of kindness no matter how big or small might have on their life. It doesn't have to be buying someone dinner, it can be something as simple as opening a door, or offering your help with something. Whatever it is, big or small, can really make a big difference.

So with all of the gratitude in my heart, I say "Thank you" to whomever it is that showed us an act of kindness that is so often missing from today's world. I promise, it didn't go unnoticed and it meant more than you understand. It's good to see there are still those out there who care for others. May God bring whoever you are, a special blessing this week and thanks again.


Hello, and welcome to my new Blog!

I'm glad to have you on board and reading what I have to say!
I'll be updating this pretty frequently, so make sure and check back daily for a dose of what I like to call "Phil's reality!"

This will be a fairly random blog. I will post pretty much whatever happens to be on my mind, be it faith, family, politics, movies, news or whatever. Keep in mind, I am very honest, and I have some very strong beliefs and convictions that I'm not afraid to share.

With that in mind, thanks for taking the time to come check me out!

God bless and have a great day!