Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Sports Columns

June 27, 2013

ROCKY TOP BEAT: ‘Football time in Tennessee’ is two months away

Summer is here and kickoff for the first game of 2013 season is only about two months away. Once the Fourth of July comes and goes, football will be upon us before we know it. I can almost hear the sweet sounds of "Rocky Top" filling Neyland Stadium. 

This might be the year that both football and basketball can turn things around after some recent disappointments. Becoming bowl eligible in football and getting to the NCAA Tournament are two goals that come to mind. Despite the recent history, there are things to get excited about lately. Besides, a change of fortunes is way over due in Knoxville.

The Vols are having amazing success with early recruiting under Butch Jones. The good news continued this past week with the announced transfer from Maryland of Justus Pickett, a running back originally from Charlotte, NC. The addition of Pickett will certainly bolster the running back situation in the future. 

Pickett will have two years of eligibility left at UT. He played two years at Maryland, where he had 600 yards of multi-purpose yards and posted 585 yards on 31 kickoff returns. Not a bad pick up for Butch Jones, no matter how he chooses to use him. 

Cuonzo Martin has added two needed pieces to his team with transfers this off season. The addition of Antonio Barton, a point guard from Memphis, is huge after Trae Golden’s unexpected exodus from the team. Also, 6’10 “Pops” Ndiaye from the community college ranks will add another big body to the rotation. 

Things are looking up around the UT campus for the upcoming year, but the spotlight for the immediate future is firmly on the upcoming football season. A highly touted offensive line is the only known strength but that hasn’t stopped the excitement. 

The skill positions on offense will be a work in progress and Coach Jones is still looking for a leader to emerge. When you couple that with a tough schedule and the remaking of a defense that was a disaster last season, you have more than enough reasons for some apprehension. 

The good news is that the light at the end of the tunnel appears to be getting brighter. Even though the Vols will have their hands full against the better programs this season, a feeling of optimism has surrounded the program as the rebuilding begins. 

It all starts in two short months with Austin Peay and most of the Big Orange Nation will be joining me in counting down the days. As of today, that would be only 64 more days left. Go Vols!

(Frank Gale is a Chronicle correspondent and his column appears regularly.)

Text Only
Sports Columns
  • All in the Game: Can things get much better for the 'Dores?

    I didn't really plan on writing any more columns about my favorite team, but I know how much all of us Tennesseans enjoy reading about winners. These past three years, and especially the last two, have been really exciting in terms of gridiron action. I'll have to admit that recent successes have exceeded my grandest expectations and now I expect things to get even better.

    July 31, 2014

  • Oh Good Grief: Get ready for fall sports

    To quote the late Bobby Denton, "It is football time in Tennessee," but there will be other sports going on this fall, as well.

    July 31, 2014

  • Better police needed for college teams enticed to cheat

    Cheating has been part of college athletics probably for as long as people have bothered to keep score.

    July 24, 2014

  • Rocky Top Beat: Vols begin preparations for season opener in eight days

    The start of fall practice is only a mere eight days away. Coach Butch Jones has to be ready to get Team #118 on the field and to start preparations for Utah State.

    July 24, 2014

  • Expectations too high for a rehabbing Woods

    Even when Tiger Woods finished just a few strokes from last place at the British Open, he was one of the  featured topics in stories coming out of Royal Liverpool Golf Club.

    July 23, 2014

  • Rocky Top Beat: Vols focused on Utah

    The SEC media days have come and gone with no real news being generated. A successful media days appearance is usually defined as leaving Hoover, AL without giving a future opponent bulletin board material. Using that criteria, Tennessee left without any major gaffs.

    July 17, 2014

  • Oh Good Greif: Good things must come to an end

    The Dr. Pepper Classic, a long-time tradition at McKenzie Arena, affectively-known as the Round House, will seize, as a couple of teams dropped out, leaving the university in a "lurch," according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press Tuesday morning. Teams wanted a cash guarantee to play, which couldn't be provided (at this time).

    July 10, 2014

  • Rocky Top Beat: Majors Invitational tees off Sunday at Lake Tansi

    It is the second weekend in July and that means Johnny Majors is at Lake Tansi this weekend to host his annual golf tournament. It is always a treat for the local UT fans to interact with those that have been a part of the Vol football program. They come to the plateau each year to renew old acquaintances and share the stories of gridiron prowess from past years. By the way, the stories sure seem to get better with time.

    July 10, 2014

  • Oh Good Greif: 'Dores make history with CWS win

    History was made at the College World Series in Omaha, NE, this week, as the Vanderbilt Commodores baseball team won the school's  first national championship in any sport since the Vandy women's bowling team won the 2007 national crown.

    June 26, 2014

  • Rocky Top Beat: Tyndall hire closes the book on Martin era

    The University of Tennessee was able to close the books on the Cuonzo Martin era of Vol basketball earlier this week when they hired Donnie Tyndall to lead their program. Athletic Director Dave Hart, who conducted the search and the hiring on his own, appears to have found the right coach for this team at the right time.

    April 24, 2014

Marketplace Marquee
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar
2014 Readers' Choice
Graduation 2014