I have mentioned famous "Vandy Hater" Joe Thompson several times in the past. When I first thought about writing today's column, I decided I should apologize to Joe first. I have a confession to make. There was a time in my life when I was much younger that I actually liked Vanderbilt basketball. I liked the Commodores even better than I liked the Volunteers. There.....I admitted it. It feels good to get that off my chest. I was a young teenager, about 13 years old, and thankfully I came to my senses before I graduated high school.
I was a huge Vandy fan in the early- to mid-1960s. I loved Clyde Lee, Bob Grace and Tommy Hagan. I loved watching the great Perry Wallace, Thorpe Weber and Terry Compton.
Roy Skinner was my favorite coach and my dad, always a true"Big Orange" fan, never understood my infatuation with Vanderbilt. When Vandy would play Tennessee, I would listen to the Commodores' broadcast on WSM radio in my room, while my father would listen to John Ward and the Vols on WSIX in the living room. Now don't get me wrong, I liked Coach Ray Mears and a few of the Vols. Players like Bill Justus who would go on to become my broadcast partner on Vols basketball telecasts was one of my true favorites. So were Jimmy England, Mike Snow A.W. Davis and Tom Boerwinkle. But I always pulled for Vandy, mainly because most of my classmates at Madison High School were also Commodore fans.
I grew out of that when the Vandy program took a downturn in the early 1970s. I went to school at MTSU and became a Blue Raider fan while working on their radio network. I still love and follow Middle Tennessee to this day and, of course, I love Tennessee basketball as well. Now don't get me wrong, even when I loved Vandy hoops I still loved Tennessee football. But my admission of following Vanderbilt basketball may come as a surprise to some people.
I've always thought it appropriate for a person to like more than just one team or one school. Today I am also a big UTC fan as well. So there I admitted it. I have apologized to the great Joe Thompson and I now have a clear conscience.
Why did I find it necessary to apologize to Joe Thompson you may ask? Well Joe played football at Tennessee with Phillip Fulmer, Bobby Scott and Tim Priest. He has always been known as the world's greatest Vandy hater. He would rather beat Vandy than any team on the Vols' schedule. Once Joe had a blind date with a young lady in Nashville. The two hit it off and enjoyed a wonderful dinner at a fancy Nashville eating establishment. After dinner, as they were enjoying dessert, she asked Joe where he went to college. He replied that he graduated from Tennessee. He then asked her the same question. She replied that she had gone to Vanderbilt. Joe then got up from his chair, never said another word to her and walked out of the restaurant leaving her with the tab. Now you know.
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Randy Smith can be reached at email@example.com