UTC Wrestlers Honor Jim Morgan Today

UTC Hosts The Citadel at 2 p.m. at Big Mac

Sunday, January 27, 2013 - by B.B. Branton

“Good morning Coach Morgan.”

“It’s a big day in the Morgan household as many of your boys are coming back to Big Mac to honor you.

The Mocs and coach Heath Eslinger need your support today as they have a tough match with The Citadel at 2 p.m. at Maclellan Gym.

A familiar voice you say, but can’t quite put your finger on it ?

Yep, that’s me  .

.. over here, where I was for years ... on your right – sometimes, left – shoulder.

Your faithful and oft-used towel.

You’ve worn out a few of us over the years at UTC and Baylor, but I’m the godfather of them all.

I was there for your first college match (vs. Carson-Newman, Nov.22, 1968) and watched from a distance (you retired me a few years hence) as you and the Mocs won your last SoCon title in 1983.

Coming from McCallie, you brought in great local talent and gave perennial power Auburn and coach Swede Umbach all they could handle with Southern champions Glasser, Faires and Gross.

 I was there in 1974 when you smiled as Bill Burnside was your first All-American, followed by some kid from Hixson named Batten who won three national championships and even graced the cover of the NCAA wrestling guide.

Then I traveled to the NCAAs as you and the Mocs took the program from a solid Southern team to one who stood toe-to-toe with the best in the D-II land with three top 10 finishes and seven guys who won national championships or were All-Americans.

You know the names – Batten, Burnside and Brennan … Kavelage and Jackson … Weeks and Big Ziggy and more.

I was there to wipe the sweat and even some tears away after close wins and tough losses.

Never one to back off from wrestling the best, you brought in Kentucky for a 1976 Tuesday  night Big Mac sellout. We both fretted and  sweated and you twisted and tossed me around from shoulder to shoulder all the while admonishing the Mocs in arguably the most exciting home match ever although our Mocs fell, 22-18.

I listened intently as you coached your boys to the school’s first Southern crown later that season. And together we listened to the lame excuses from the officials for taking away a team point for “excessive celebration” and losing the Southern championship by one point.

While the numbers are impressive - 16 years, 209 wins, 9 All-Americans, 6 SoCon titles, 3 NCAA D-II top 10 finishes and a good showing at D-I ( 14th) I – it still about the boys your helped turn into men.

This afternoon I’ll be right there as, together, we see old friends and hear the old war stories one more time.

So throw me over your right shoulder and let’s get there early as the old Mocs cheer on the young Mocs and win another one for the Blue and Gold in Big Mac.

And as the young and old rise as one to honor the Legends and a Legendary Coach, let’s you and I wave back and say thanks for the memories, never, never quit and always look to shoot the half.”


contact B.B. Branton at William.branton@comcast.net

Randy Smith: SEC Picks Week 13

Where has this college football season gone? It was only yesterday that I was counting the days, hours and minutes down to the first kickoff. Now, after Saturday's games, the regular season ends and we look forward to the league championship games, bowl games and the college football playoff. The regular season will likely go out with a bang, so here goes... Alabama @ Auburn: ... (click for more)

JOHN HUNT: Giving Thanks On Another Beautiful Day

Well, here we are again.   Where has that last year gone in such a hurry? As has been the case in recent years, I’m following in Roy Exum’s footsteps with my many reasons to be thankful. Among other things, I AM THANKFUL that I woke up today without a hangover.   It’s been almost 22 years since and I hope I never forget just how bad that last one was. ... (click for more)

City Council To Consider Policy That Job Applicants Would Not Have To Reveal Criminal Records

The City Council on Tuesday night will consider a policy that city job applicants would not have to reveal their criminal past. Councilman Yusuf Hakeem cited problems those with felony records have in securing employment. The policy would go into effect by the first of the year. The resolution says: WHEREAS, the City of Chattanooga (the "City") is committed ... (click for more)

City Considering Measure That Would Require City Employees To Be Tennessee Residents

The City Council is considering an ordinance that would require city employees to be residents of the state of Tennessee. Currently, the city has employees who live in North Georgia and North Alabama  and that is allowed.  If the ordinance is approved by the City Council, it still would need to be okayed by a majority of city voters in an election. The measure ... (click for more)

An Extra Helping Of Gratitude

After being thankful for the grace of God, my family and good health, this year I have an extra helping of gratitude to live in a special place called Chattanooga.   We endured the trauma of terrorism on July 16 and emerged more united and stronger than ever before.  We claim our heritage and celebrate our diversity like no other city in America.  We honor our ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Cometh ‘The Black Dog’

I am one of 350 million people in the world who suffers from clinical depression. The doctors trace it back to my first decade of the 21 st century when constant surgeries and infections knocked me loopy but the more I have found, I believe I am more like Sir Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln and pro football star Terry Bradshaw – I think I have had it all my life. Today it ... (click for more)