Randy Smith: A Great Week For The Mocs And Coach Mack

Friday, February 7, 2014 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith

This has been a very good week for the Chattanooga Mocs Athletic Department. The men’s and women’s basketball teams continue to fly high in the Southern Conference, while head football coach Russ Heusman capped off the number one recruiting class in all of FCS football on Wednesday. The wrestling Mocs are doing very well as always, and after leaving the Mocs’ basketball program almost 17 years ago, former Coach Mack McCarthy was elected to the Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame.

This honor is well deserved, though it is also long overdue. Mack is still the winningest basketball coach in Chattanooga history and his last team in 1997 advanced all the way to the NCAA “Sweet 16” before finally bowing out. No Moc team has ever been as far as the Johnny Taylor-led Mocs of 1997.

Coach McCarthy put together a record of 243 wins and 122 losses in 12 seasons at UTC. His final career record of 343-224 (60%) is much better than average, and while he may not actively be searching for another coaching position, I still believe the man can coach.

Mack has been the assistant athletic director at East Carolina State University for the past several years. He has been popular and well-liked every place he has been, especially here in Chattanooga.

I hosted the Mack McCarthy Coach’s show on television for five seasons and every single show was a lot of fun. However, my fondest memories of Coach Mack had absolutely nothing to do with basketball. In 1987 while I was the sports director at Channel 12, Mack and I were among five local celebrities to participate in a rib eating contest at Engel Stadium just before a Lookouts’ game. We had five minutes to eat as many ribs as we could, and put the bones in an aluminum pan. I was fabulous at this kind of thing, (my waist line showed it) and I was comfortably in front. Clark Schaefer, the channel 3 sports guy, was sneaking some of my bones into his pan while I wasn’t looking and he was declared the winner despite cheating like a dog.

Mack McCarthy on the other hand, ate a lot of ribs but he was not at all concerned with winning. He was just enjoying the ribs. When the five minutes were up, he almost cried when they took the remaining ribs away from him.

 My other fond remembrance of Coach Mack took place almost ten years later. I had asked Mack to speak to the student body at South Pittsburg High School. I picked him up at his office and drove him to the school, where he did his usual great job. After his speech, we drove another forty-five minutes south to Mud Creek Bar-B-Que near Scottsboro, Alabama. I had been bragging on the food there, and couldn’t wait to expose Coach McCarthy to some southern delicacies he hadn’t tried yet.

We each chowed down on great barbeque and catfish and washed it all down with the best sweet tea in the world. (Mack referred to the tea as “good and syrupy”) We talked about basketball, kids, and life all the way back to Chattanooga.    

I know these stories will just add to Mack’s reputation for enjoying great southern food, but the Mack McCarthy I dealt with was always much more than just a fan of a good meal. He was concerned with young people always doing their best. He was also a heck of a good basketball coach, and I will be proud and honored to present him his induction plaque for the Chattanooga Sports Hall of Fame.     

-----

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


East Ridge Soccer Wins 3-0 Over Sweetwater

Coy Vandergriff, Hunter Schobert and Alejandro Vicente scored goals for the East Ridge boys soccer team Thursday night in their 3-0 win over Sweetwater.  The Pioneers end the regular season with a 10-2 record.  East Ridge will host a district semifinal game against the winner of Howard and Central next Tuesday at 7 p.m.   Rijad Kazic, Hunter Schobert and Alejandro ... (click for more)

Lee Baseball Set For Post-Season Run

The journey to the tourney begins on Saturday afternoon (4 p.m. EDT) when the Lee University baseball team (30-16) faces host and top-seeded University of West Florida (33-13) in the Gulf South Conference Tournament at Jim Spooner Field. Coach Mark Brew and his Flames have been waiting for this time to come since Lee athletics moved away from the NAIA and SSAC three years ago. ... (click for more)

Mayor Berke Pledges $6 Million For New Recreation Center At Avondale

Mayor Andy Berke announced Thursday that he plans to include $6 million in his upcoming budget for a new Recreation Center at Avondale. He said at a press conference at the current center on Dodson Avenue, "We want to make an investment in Avondale." Mayor Berke said the current center by Wilcox Boulevard was built in 1949 and last remodeled in 2002. The new center, which ... (click for more)

Developer Plans Single-Family Homes, Townhomes, Apartments, Retail On 7.5 Acres At South Broad Street

A developer is planning single-family homes, apartments, townhomes and retail on a 7.5-acre South Broad Street site. The development by South Broad LLC and DEW LLC is located within several blocks between South Broad Street, W. 26th Street, Long Street and W. 27th Street. It would include a 3-story U-shaped apartment building with ground floor retail at the north end of the ... (click for more)

Thankful For The Vital Role Teachers Played In My Life

Re: Roy Exum: Teachers Day Tomorrow Roy, I am especially appreciative of your poignant column written in tribute to teachers.  It made me tear up, as I have encountered both as a student and a career educator-- teachers like the second-grade teacher who said, "I wish you were my little girl" and teachers like Mrs. Poindexter.   My teachers have played such a vital ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: ‘No’ To Schools Budget

When the Hamilton County Commissioners and officials of the Hamilton County Department of Education met for 3 ½ hours on Tuesday, they studied a proposed budget of roughly $385 million – this $24.2 million over an anticipated $361 million in revenues. Now let’s pretend it is a Tuesday night at your own kitchen table and your favorite son – after misbehaving in a somewhat stunning ... (click for more)