By Steve Williams


I’m getting in my letter to ole Saint Nick at the last minute this year, but hopefully he will see it before he leaves the North Pole.

My letter includes gift wishes for those in the World of Sports and is done in memory of Russ Bebb, who traditionally wrote to Santa for The Knoxville Journal, where we worked together in the sports department from 1973-88.

With a cup of coffee at my side and the hustle and bustle in full force on this Saturday morning, three days before Christmas, here we go.

Dear Santa,

Give UT football coach Jeremy Pruitt applause for what seems to be a solid early signing class. Of course, we want really know until the new Vols get out there and we see them in action. But I like how Pruitt picks his players. He relies on what he sees for himself and not as much on the recruiting stars.

Give Tennessee Titans consistency and Derrick Henry more stiff arms.

Give Tiger Woods another major for coming back and trying.

Give the Bearden boys basketball team a long overdue state championship.

Give the Central football team our congratulations!

Give women’s basketball another Pat Summitt, golf another Lee Trevino, NASCAR another Dale Earnhardt, baseball another Lou Gehrig, NFL another Reggie White, NBA another Michael Jordan, Canada another NHL champion, horse racing another Secretariat, tennis another Connors vs. McEnroe rivalry, boxing another Muhammad Ali and sports broadcasting another Howard Cosell.

Give Penny Hardaway our thanks for stirring up the UT-Memphis rivalry and ear plugs to wear for his trip to Knoxville next season.

Give Rick Barnes a Big Orange sport coat to wear when Vanderbilt and Kentucky come to town this season. (Barnes is doing great with the Vols at the moment and the future looks bright. Rick in a Big Orange sport coat would honor the past and the late Ray Mears).

Don’t give Carter High product Jordan Bowden a starting job. He’s doing better without one.

Give UT basketball fans a men’s Final Four.

Give UT football fans an 8-4 season and watch them jump for joy. (My how times have changed)

Give Phil Fulmer a B for improvement overall in UT athletics. Lady Vols soccer and volleyball really deserve an attagirl. (Track and cross country are still not up to par)

Give UT separate coaches for men’s and women’s track.

Give Trey Smith an apple a day and wellness.

Give the Los Angeles Chargers a home.

Give the College Football Playoffs eight teams, so teams like this year’s Big Ten champion Ohio State, Georgia, the Pac 12 champion and still unbeaten Central Florida don’t have to be left out. (And don’t wait years to do it)

Also give college football a playoff format without a selection committee. (Let it be settled on the field)

Give Central Florida a share of the national title this year anyway, if it beats LSU.

Give Nick Saban an occasional smile.

Give Alabama fans humble pie.

Give Notre Dame a conference.

Give Eric Berry our admiration.

Give TSSAA football a playoff format minus teams with losing records.

Take back 6-6 bowl teams and don’t even consider 5-7 teams.

Finally, please give every child a sport to love, a coach who will teach good sportsmanship and the magic of Christmas morning.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!