Randy Smith: Sometimes, Change Is A Good Thing

Wednesday, February 19, 2014 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith
When former UTC Head Basketball Coach John Shulman was asked to leave his position more than a year ago, I supported the decision. I love Coach Shulman to this day, and really admire what he accomplished as the Mocs' head coach. However, in many instances a change at the top can be a good thing. That was the case at UTC.
 
New Coach Will Wade has breathed fresh air into the once proud UTC program. As of today, the Mocs are in second place in the Southern Conference Standings at 10-2, with an overall mark of 16-11. They have four games left in the regular season before play begins in the SoCon Tournament. The Mocs next outing will be Thursday night as they host Georgia Southern at McKenzie Arena.
For the first time in many years, the Mocs have a sure-fire star on their squad. Zaccheus Mason leads the SoCon in rebounding (9.6 per game) and is currently fourth in scoring. (17.9 per game) Mason has been a key contributor to the Mocs great season thus far, but Coach Wade's squad has some other key parts as well.
 
Wade has brought a "family feel" to the Mocs' program. No one player is more important than another, and everyone, coaches, players and fans alike, should all be on the same page. That's why attendance has increased dramatically at McKenzie Arena. Coach Wade has made it fun to come to Mocs' basketball games again. With four games left in the regular season, UTC has already clinched a bye in round one of the SoCon Tournament. In the past several years, Mocs' fans have not only been unexcited about the tournament, they were totally indifferent about UTC basketball. That's why the change was made.
 
There was another change at UTC last year as well. Long-time Head Coach Wes Moore finally left the Lady Mocs' program for a big-time ACC job at North Carolina State. UTC administration, led by athletic director David Blackburn, hired a Hall of Fame coach in former Vandy and Ohio State head coach Jim Foster. While Foster did inherit some talent from Wes Moore's last Lady Mocs' squad, UTC hasn't missed a beat. Coach Foster has shown from day one why he is a Hall of Fame coach, as the Lady mocs haven't missed a single beat. As of today, UTC is 23-3 and an amazing 15-0 in the Southern Conference. Coach Moore's tenure at UTC was highly successful, though he even felt deep down that things had become stale in the program. 
 
"Change for the sake of change", isn't always a good thing. (Tennessee football is a great example) Personally, I have always thought of changing something to shake things up a bit, was potentially a bad thing. Gone are the days of one man or woman staying at one school or at one team as the head coach for twenty or more years. It just isn't going to happen again.
 
One year ago, things were about as bad at UTC as they had been in a long, long time. Changing head coaches allowed the men's program to make a complete turn around. Now, the crowds are better and interest is approaching where it was in the Murray Arnold-Mack McCarthy days. The Mocs have satisfied the old guard as well as created new and younger fans for Chattanooga basketball.   
 
Yep, things are fun again at the Round House. I hope that never changes!    

-----

Randy Smith has been covering sports on radio, television and print for the past 45 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has written two books, and has continued to free-lance as a play-by-play announcer. He is currently teaching Broadcasting at Coahulla Creek High School near Dalton, Ga.

His career has included a 17-year stretch as host of the Kickoff Call In Show on the University of Tennessee’s prestigious Vol Network. He has been a member of the Vol Network staff for thirty years.

He has done play-by-play on ESPN, ESPN II, CSS, and Fox SportSouth, totaling more than 500 games, and served as a well-known sports anchor on Chattanooga Television for more than a quarter-century.

In 2003, he became the first television broadcaster to be inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame. Randy and his wife Shelia reside in Hixson, TN. They have two married children, (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith.) They have three grandchildren, Coleman, Boone and DellaMae.

To contact Randy: rsmithsports@epbfi.com


Local Tennis Teams Win State Titles

Three Chattanooga tennis teams claimed state championships Sunday in the USTA State Junior Team Tennis Championships at The Champions Club in Rivermont. Five hundred players from across the state competed in various age divisions. Local team winners were Chattanooga Blue Aces (12U beginner), Chattanooga Lightening (14U)  and Chattanooga Heat Strokes (18U Intermediate) ... (click for more)

Chattanooga to Host Southern Open Badminton Championship, Aug. 1-3

The Southern Open Badminton Championships, a USAB sanctioned tournament, will be held in Chattanooga Aug. 1-3 at Maclellan Gym. The Southern Open is a non-ranking tournament open to all types of amateur badminton players.   Tournament Information August 1-3, 2014 40 different events Register online  or Download paper  form ... (click for more)

23-Year-Old Stabbed To Death Early Sunday Morning

A man was stabbed to death in Chattanooga early Sunday morning. At approximately 2:48 a.m., Chattanooga Police responded to 2525 6 th  Avenue Court for a person stabbed.  Officers located a 23-year-old suffering from a stab wound to his chest.  The victim was transported to a local hospital where he later died from his injury.  The victim’s information ... (click for more)

Man, 21, Arrested In Hidden Camera Case

An arrest has been made in a case in which a hidden camera was apparently placed in several local restrooms. Chattanooga Police last Sunday, received from a citizen a hidden camera that apparently had been placed by an unknown suspect in the men’s restroom at the Chattanooga Billiards Club downtown.  The footage from the camera was reviewed by Investigators with the ... (click for more)

An Open Letter To Tennesseans

We are incredibly fortunate to live in a state in which companies worldwide are clamoring to establish a presence. Many attribute it to our pro-business culture, well-prepared workforce, low tax environment, right-to-work policies, and engaged citizenry.  That is why the announcement by Volkswagen to build its midsize sports utility vehicle and establish the South’s ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: O’Reilly’s Rant On Race

I don’t really care whether you like Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly but I strongly believe I must share an urgent transcript with you of what he said earlier this week. It’s been talked about on every network and it speaks boldly to the very heart of an American epidemic. Last weekend in Chicago 47 people were shot and five of them died. Black-on-black shootings have gotten ... (click for more)