By Steve Williams

A little over 48 hours after Florida handed the Tennessee men’s basketball team its worst defeat of the season, a voice was heard in the darkness:

“Right now I just wish fans would stay on board with this team and this coach.”

Maybe you heard the comment, like I did.

In case you didn’t, I’m here to tell you who made that wish:

Bruce Pearl.

That’s how the former Tennessee coach ended an interview on WNML’s The Sports Animal last Monday night.

Pearl sounded sincere.

I thought it was a nice verbal gesture.

That’s the latest, anyway, in the best soap opera going in UT athletics right now.

In case you’ve missed a month of episodes, there appears to be a growing segment of the Vols’ fan base which would like to see Pearl brought back as coach, if Cuonzo Martin, current coach, fails to get his team in the NCAA tournament for the third straight year.

There are a few who are even pulling for Cuonzo and the Vols to fail, so Pearl will have a chance to be UT’s coach again after his 3-year showcause – for lying to the NCAA – ends in August.

A little over 48 hours after Bruce aired his wish, Tennessee turned in one of its best performances of the season in beating Ole Miss.

Some fans got back on board.

Stay tuned.


SUPER MONDAY: The day after Super Sunday. Since I’m writing this on Super Friday, the Super Bowl has yet to be played.

With that said, on Super Saturday, Peyton Manning will be one day from playing the one game that will determine his legacy in the NFL, or so some say.

I have often heard that one game does not make a season. So how can one game make a legacy?


I’M NOT going to raise my index finger and shout “We’re No. 1” if Tennessee’s 2014 football recruiting class is ranked the best in the nation.

Wednesday – national signing day – is a big day on paper, the culmination of a lot of work by Coach Butch Jones and his staff. But having “recruiting celebrations” across the state – dinner in Knoxville, breakfast in Memphis and lunch in Nashville – is like making an appetizer the main course.

When Tennessee gets it done on the field, and wins a SEC championship, then it will be time to shout “We’re No. 1” and have a feast.


SNOW DAYS: Knox County students getting out of school most of last week because of the snow and cold weather had me reflecting on such times when I was going to school in Clinton back in the late 1960s.

It was pretty much a tradition for basketball-loving boys in Clinton to show up at the Rec Hall on snow days, and make a day of it.

The court we played on was about half regulation length. Best I remember, each team had three players on it, maybe four. When we played 5-on-5 on that small court, it got a little crowded.

We called our own fouls and kept our own score. The team that won would stay on the court and get to keep playing. When a team lost, it would go to the sidelines, and have to wait its turn.

This was the day and age of Pistol Pete Maravich, Ray Mears and Ron Widby, the SEC TV Game of the Week and String Music. The best basketball shoes in those days were the Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars, with the gray soles.

We played all day at the Rec Hall. Recreation director George Margrave or his assistant, Claude Cardin (I hope that’s the right name), let us in on those cold, snowy mornings. A lot of us boys were having so much fun, we probably forgot to tell them “thank you.”