Tickets for UT football opener at LP Field go on sale Monday

Tickets for the University of Tennessee’s season-opening football game at LP Field, Sept. 5 against Bowling Green, go on sale 10 a.m. Monday, the Nashville Sports Council announced Friday.

Prices range from $45-$100 and will be available through all TicketMaster outlets. Parking passes also are available at $25 each.

This sale is for the general public. An exclusive presale was conducted for UT season ticket holders and Nashville Sports Council members.

The last time the Volunteers opened at LP Field was 2002. That year they defeated Wyoming 47-7 in that contest and finished the season 8-5.

This year’s game originally was supposed to be against Alabama-Birmingham. Bowling Green stepped in when UAB discontinued its football program earlier this year.

May 29, 2015 10:34 AM

Barnes sets sights on Nashville as regular UT hoops destination

Rick Barnes might be a new traveler on the Big Orange Caravan but the new University of Tennessee basketball coach already is sounding a familiar refrain.

In an appearance at LP Field on Wednesday, the final stop on this year’s five-city tour, Barnes talked about the importance of Nashville and Middle Tennessee to his program and the others at the school.

To emphasize his point, he said his team would play Gonzaga in Nashville during the 2016-17 season and raised the possibility that the Vols could play a game every season at Bridgestone Arena.

“I was in conversations (Tuesday) with some people about us possibly having a neutral-site game every single year,” Barnes said, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel. “Because this area, this town is important to us. (UT athletic director) Dave Hart told me that from the beginning. He said, if we can get into Nashville to play a game every year, it would be huge, obviously with the (SEC) tournament being here. And just for the fact that we want this to be all ours.”

It is the same school of thought already employed by the football program and Butch Jones, who also appeared. Jones’ team will open the 2015 season at LP Field against Western Kentucky.

“I know all of our players from Middle Tennessee are really looking forward to competing in this stadium, getting a chance to compete in an NFL environment,” Jones said. “We need to make this a great home-field advantage for us, which we will. I know our fans will.”

May 21, 2015 5:21 AM

Titans add VP of communications, redefine roles of three others

The Tennessee Titans continued to restructure their front office Thursday with the addition of a vice president and new roles for three longtime staff members.

Jimmy Stanton is now the VP of communications and oversees the team's digital media, media relations, broadcasting and production departments.

Ralph Ockenfels was promoted to VP of marketing and broadcast and digital rights while Gary Glenn was named senior director of digital media and Robbie Bohren was elevated to senior director of media relations.

Stanton (pictured) worked in the Titans’ media relations department for two years, 1999 and 2000. He comes back to the franchise after seven years at the University of Tennessee, where his current position is senior associate athletics director for communications. He also worked with the Houston Astros of Major League Baseball and at the University of Kentucky.

“As we continue to look at ways to improve our organization, this position will help integrate a number of departments that interact directly with our fans,” Titans Interim President Steve Underwood said in a release from the team. “I have known Jimmy for nearly 20 years, and he has a great deal of experience with our organization and with the media in the region. I know he will complement the great people that we already have in place, and I look forward to him joining our club.”

Ockenfels had been the team’s VP of marketing while Glenn was director of internet operations/publishing and Bohren was director of media relations. All three have been with the organization for close to two decades.

May 14, 2015 4:06 PM

'Lowest moment' of Butch Jones' career came last season at UT

Highly ranked recruiting classes and a return to bowl eligibility have created an undeniable feeling that things are looking up for the University of Tennessee.

Good thing for third-year coach Butch Jones. That’s because his time in Knoxville already has included what he considers the worst experience he’s had as a coach.

Jones told 247 Sports that last season’s 10-9 loss to Florida — a game the Volunteers led 9-0 — “was probably the lowest moment I’ve ever had in my career.”

To their credit, the Volunteers did not let it keep them down long.

They lost their next two conference contests but finished the regular season with three wins in their last four games, beginning with a 45-42 overtime triumph at South Carolina. Then they crushed Iowa in the TaxSlayer Bowl 45-28 to finish the season 7-6, their first winning record since 2009.

“The South Carolina game was really the culmination of really learning how to win,” Jones told 247 Sports. “But I think the changing point was the Florida game, because obviously it was extremely disappointing for all involved. It was probably the lowest moment I’ve ever had in my career, and I had to put my tie on and go home and have 12 individuals at my house for an official visit.

“But our players, our young football team could have listened to all the clutter and distraction out there, and they didn’t listen to any of the noises. I knew if we could cross that hurdle that would make us a better football team by the end of the season. And you go 4-1, you win a bowl game — a great bowl game, a New Year’s Day bowl game, so to speak — and it propels you.”

Onward and upward, he hopes.

 
(Photo: Getty Images)

May 14, 2015 5:31 AM

Tiny Richardson makes big decision about professional future

His nickname was meant to be ironic.

The reality, of course, is that Antonio “Tiny” Richardson is a big man and it takes a lot to support his 6-foot-6, 327-pound frame. Too much, in fact, for his battered knees.

Saturday, the former University of Tennessee offensive lineman who attended both Ensworth and Pearl-Cohn High Schools announced his retirement from pro football after one season with the Minnesota Vikings.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank God, University of Tennessee and the Minnesota Vikings organization for the opportunity to live out my dream as an elite football player,” Richardson wrote on Twitter. “Second I’d like to thank my close ones for supporting me through this time. My love and passion for this game is Infinite, but I understand that football careers don’t last long and unfortunately mine has ended due to injury. I can truly say I left it all on the field. I am forever thankful for my opportunities and I look forward to life after football.”

Richardson was undrafted in 2014 because of concerns about his knees, which included surgery following his sophomore season at Tennessee. He signed with Minnesota as an undrafted free agent but was placed on injured reserve prior to the start of the regular season. He underwent surgeries on both knees.

The Vikings released him last week after they selected three offensive linemen in this year’s draft.

In high school he was the state’s top-rated 2011 college prospect, according to Rivals.com, and a participant in the 2011 U.S. Army All-American Bowl. At Tennessee, he was a two-time second-team All-SEC selection.

May 11, 2015 9:49 AM

A little more than a month after getting fired, Tyndall lists Knoxville home

Donnie Tyndall lost his job but still hopes to make a little bit of money.

The former University of Tennessee men’s basketball coach, who was fired in March because of his connection to recruiting violations at Southern Miss, has put his Knoxville home on the market.

The five-bedroom home on a lakeside lot is 8,556 square feet and is listed at $1,895 million, according to Realtor.com. He bought the place a year ago for $1.7 million.

From Realtor.com:

The place has plenty of fancy features. Out back there’s a pool with water flowing from decorative urns. There’s also a covered terrace overlooking Fort Loudon Lake, a popular spot for “fishing, paddling, and birdwatching.”

According to the listing, the European-style home with “old-world charm” has a Boral brick exterior, six fireplaces, and “arched doorways and flickering gas lanterns.”
 

May 4, 2015 10:39 PM

Another year, another SEC stop for former UT hoops assistant

Al Pinkins was not with Donnie Tyndall at Southern Miss.

Where he has been has a lot to do with where he is going.

After one season at the University of Tennessee he has joined Johnny Jones’ staff at LSU. It will be the third different Southeastern Conference program in as many seasons for Pinkins.

LSU announced the move Friday.

“His familiarity with the style of play of our conference opponents, plus his knowledge and ability to recruit the caliber of players that it takes to compete at this level will allow him to be an instant asset to our program,” Jones said in a release from LSU. “We look forward to him getting started on the recruiting trail and being a part of our summer workouts as we begin to prepare for the upcoming season.”

Pinkins, 42, was an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Ole Miss for three seasons (2011-14) before he signed on with Tyndall at UT last season. He also spent eight years as an assistant (2003-11) at Middle Tennessee State.

When Tyndall was fired in March for his connection to recruiting violations during his two seasons at Southern Miss, Pinkins was named interim head coach but ultimately was not retained by Rick Barnes, who brought in a completely new staff.

The fact that he was not connected to Tyndall’s time and troubles at Southern Miss no doubt made it easier for him to get another job.

(Photo: UTSports.com)

May 4, 2015 3:02 PM

UT shut out of NFL draft for first time in more than half a century

The 2015 NFL Draft offered a stark illustration of just how far the University of Tennessee football program fell under former coach Derek Dooley.

For the first time since 1963, the Volunteers did not have a player selected. There were 256 total selections over the seven rounds and not one of them came from UT.

Thus ended the sixth-longest active streak in college football. Michigan and Southern California (76 years), Michigan State (75), Florida (63) and Nebraska (52) were the only programs that consistently had sent players to the NFL for a longer period.

Cornerback Justin Coleman was considered draft-worthy by most analysts but settled for a free agent offer from Minnesota.

This year’s group of draft-eligible players primarily were recruited by Dooley and his staff.

Even without any contributions from the Volunteers, the Southeastern Conference had the most players drafted for the ninth consecutive year.

From the Chattanooga Times Free Press:

During the 51-year streak, only twice have the Vols had just one player selected, but both of those instances came recently. Defensive end Robert Ayers, who went 18th overall to Denver, was the lone pick in 2009. In 2012, Malik Jackson was taken in the fifth round (137th overall) by the Broncos.

The Vols had nine first-round picks in five drafts from 1998 through 2002, but have had just nine first-round selections in the 13 drafts since that impressive run.

Entering the 2015 draft, Tennessee had 337 players drafted, the most in the SEC and the seventh-most among college football behind USC (487), Notre Dame (485), Ohio State (413), Oklahoma (367), Nebraska (350) and Michigan (345).

May 4, 2015 5:10 AM

Cheek maintains support for rebranding of UT's women's athletics programs

University of Tennessee chancellor Jimmy Cheek continues to stand behind the November decision to rebrand the university’s athletics program, except the women’s basketball team, under a single nickname and logo.

In a letter to the Knoxville News Sentinel, published Thursday morning, he classified the move as the continuation of a process that began nearly a decade ago and as part of a broader strategy to “be a top tier institution.”

From the letter:

“With these strategies came the opportunity to use a single mark or brand – the Power T – to connect all aspects of the university and to clearly state our One Tennessee message.

“The Power T is the brand of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. I know there have been differences of opinion with the choice to use the Power T for all of our athletic teams except women’s basketball.

“… The Lady Vols are a significant part of the traditions at our university. That will not end or change with the Power T. The continued contributions of our female athletes and our male athletes, as well as our students, faculty, staff and alumni, showcase the strength and pride that is the University of Tennessee.”

Criticism of the move was swift and has endured. The outcry has come from former athletes as well as others throughout the community and state.

UT administrators have been consistent and confident in their attempts to ease the dissatisfaction but seemingly have made little headway.

The move, of course, was not an act of whimsy on the part of Cheek or anyone else. It coincides with the university’s switch to Nike from adidas for its apparel and equipment sponsorship deal – and the kind of money involved with that sort of deal always wins, regardless of public opinion.

Apr 29, 2015 1:53 PM

UT wide receiver Von Pearson accused of rape, suspended

Von Pearson, the led the University of Tennessee with five touchdown receptions last season, was suspended indefinitely from all football activities Friday after a female student accused him of rape.

Two other members of the football team, wide receiver Alton “Pig” Howard and defensive end Dimarya Mixon, were among six witnesses named in the police report, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel.

It is the fifth time in two years a member of the football program has faced allegations of sexual misconduct.

From the News Sentinel:

Former linebacker A.J. Johnson and current cornerback Michael Williams await an August trial on aggravated rape charges stemming from an allegation in November. Both were suspended indefinitely after the allegations surfaced. Johnson has graduated and Williams remains suspended.

Former cornerback Riyahd Jones was named as a suspect in a rape investigation in February. The investigation was closed and no charges were filed after the accuser told authorities she did not wish to prosecute, according to KPD. Jones had left the team after last season and was considering a transfer.

An unidentified walk-on football player was accused of sexual assault in September. The accuser in that case pursued university student conduct charges but not criminal charges. The university eventually dropped the student conduct charges because it didn’t believe it could meet the burden of proof. The player, who was suspended during the investigation, is still on the team.

Former running back Marlin Lane was accused of rape in April of 2013 after an incident that involved an 18-year-old female high school student and former defensive back Geraldo Orta. Lane was never charged and returned to the team after a suspension.

“It’s not an illustration of our football program,” coach Butch Jones said. “We have tremendous, tremendous kids in our football program. I’m disappointed, but we have to move forward. We have a lot of great kids, and a lot of great things going on here. I know people try to use that against us. But we have great kids. I think that’s been proven, with our community service, with our academic excellence, and we will continue to move forward. But there are consequences for actions.”

Apr 27, 2015 5:15 AM