Randy Smith: "Would You Like Fries With That Bag Of Cash?"

Thursday, January 21, 2021 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith
When Coach Jeremy Pruitt was fired this week because of NCAA recruiting violations, it marked the lowest point in Tennessee's long football history. Yes, even lower than when Butch Jones was let go in 2017. Just when Big Orange fans thought it couldn't possibly get any worse, it got worse. As details of the investigation that was conducted internally by the University were released, it became common knowledge that players and recruits received bundles of cash, concealed in McDonald's bags. No burgers or apple pies, just money. 

Most fans will tell you that all college programs cheat and they always have. But it really hits hard when they get caught. In the early 80s, there were rumors that after a game in Knoxville, cash would be dropped in players' helmets.
That would never be confirmed and, to my knowledge, Tennessee has never officially been in deep trouble with the NCAA, until now.

A lot of that can be attributed to the leadership of former athletic director Doug Dickey. Coach Dickey always seemed to be standing by with a fire extinguisher when the NCAA fires would appear. He ruled the athletic department with an iron fist and he kept Tennessee out of trouble for a long time. Obviously retiring athletic director Phillip Fulmer wasn't as diligent as Coach Dickey was. My how things have changed.

I have to laugh a bit when I think of how Tennessee could be 3-7 and still paying players to play. Someone said, "If you're going to cheat, you should be better than 3-7." They're probably right. When asked about Jeremy Pruitt's contributions to Volunteer Football, Coach Fulmer said, "Well, he did recruit well." 

Former Vol player and assistant coach Kevin Steele is currently in charge of the Volunteers' program as interim head coach and a lot of people feel that he will eventually get the job full time. After all, most of the big name head coaching candidates are in place for next season so the coaches to choose from for Tennessee seem to be very limited. This is almost like it was for Ole Miss a few years ago when Hugh Freeze was fired after being caught committing NCAA rules violations. He was replaced by Matt Luke on an interim basis, then handed the job full time. Luke was eventually fired making room for the Johnny Rebs to hire Lane Kiffen,   

As the search for an athletic director continues at Tennessee, the list of recruits that Pruitt had gotten commitments from is dwindling. So is the roster of players as this morning four more players entered the NCAA's transfer portal. You can figure that when the NCAA hammer falls on Tennessee, it will include scholarship reductions as well as a post season ban for at least one year. I hate to see this happen to the Volunteers because if fans from other schools weren't laughing at Tennessee before this happened, they're really laughing now.
 
This trouble comes on the heels of yet another national title for bitter rival Alabama and some of the Crimson Tide crazies have already had a lot to say. My advice to them would be to remember about 20 years ago when 'Bama was floundering on NCAA probation and going through head coaches like shift changes at McDonald's.
 
* * *

Randy Smith can be reached at rsmithsports@epbfi.com




Chattanooga FC Resigns Oliveira For 2021 Season

Mocs Volleyball Drops 3-1 Loss To Mercer

Lee Men Tie Alabama Huntsville 0-0 In Double Overtime


The man returns. After a year away, Chattanooga FC is pleased to announce the resigning of Brazilian forward Felipe Oliveira for the 2021 season. Oliveria featured prominently for Chattanooga ... (click for more)

The Chattanooga Mocs volleyball team saw a late rally fall short during a 3-1 (25-20, 25-19, 22-25, 25-19) loss to Mercer in the final match of the season series on Monday afternoon inside Maclellan ... (click for more)

The Lee men's soccer team and Alabama Huntsville combined for 37 shots but in the end no one found the back of the net in a Gulf South Conference scoreless double OT battle on Monday afternoon ... (click for more)



Sports

Chattanooga FC Resigns Oliveira For 2021 Season

The man returns. After a year away, Chattanooga FC is pleased to announce the resigning of Brazilian forward Felipe Oliveira for the 2021 season. Oliveria featured prominently for Chattanooga FC from 2017 through 2019. This will be his first season as a professional. “I’m so excited to be back!” said Felipe. “I’m extremely happy to be back where I belong! I hope to help the ... (click for more)

Mocs Volleyball Drops 3-1 Loss To Mercer

The Chattanooga Mocs volleyball team saw a late rally fall short during a 3-1 (25-20, 25-19, 22-25, 25-19) loss to Mercer in the final match of the season series on Monday afternoon inside Maclellan Gymnasium. Chattanooga drops to 5-7 overall and 3-7 in Southern Conference play following the loss. Mercer extends its winning streak to seven matches, all SoCon victories, to improve ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Chattanooga Residents Voting Today For New Mayor, 9 City Council Seats

It's election day for a new Chattanooga mayor and nine members of the City Council. Winners will have to get over 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff. During early voting, 12,371 have already cast their ballots. Fifteen candidates are on the ballot for mayor, and Jean Howard-Hill is waging a write-in campaign. Two of the strongest candidates appear to be former ... (click for more)

A Record 4,668 People Received COVID-19 Vaccine In Hamilton County This Weekend

The Hamilton County Health Department wishes to recognize many community partners who offered COVID-19 vaccine clinics over the weekend to eligible people 65+ and those with 1a1, 1a2 & 1b phase status. The following community partners administered a combined 2,505 doses this weekend: • CHI Memorial Hospital sponsored by the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga ... (click for more)

Opinion

COVID Vaccine: Fomenting Fear And Spreading Disinformation

Tennesseans have proven we are resilient and determined moving through the COVID pandemic response. Getting to this point in our state -- one of only a handful that has economic growth, open schools and an ability to see a light at the end of this proverbial tunnel -- has taken unbelievable effort. Yet, one revelation of many over the last year has been the need to reject those ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: J&J Vaccine A Godsend

Within hours after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday, truckloads of the life-saving medicine were rolling out of a distribution center in Kentucky. According to a state source, Tennessee will get at least 40,000 doses early this week, and in Hamilton County as well as the rest of America, it is a Godsend. “The ... (click for more)