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Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

OPINION: Men’s Basketball just won’t back down
Abigail Taylor, Contributing writer • February 27, 2024

They Used to be Gods

They+Used+to+be+Gods

By: Chris Paschal, Contributing Writer

He’s from Saugatuck, Mich. He played college ball at Ferris State University, located in Big Rapids, Mich. Big Rapids is a fourth of the size of Spartanburg, S.C. He then coached at Central Michigan University, only then to have a brief three-year stint at the University of Cincinnati. Since 2013, he coaches the University of Tennessee Volunteers. Butch Jones.

Tennessee used to be coached by legends. I have nothing against Butch Jones. I think he has done a fine job rebuilding Tennessee. But with the lack of success lately, I wonder if the stage is too big. He used to win MAC and Big East Championships. Now, he leads one of the proudest programs in all of college football. That’s a big difference. Even more challenging, he has been charged to return the Tennessee Volunteers to their former glories. Is a man from Michigan really the man for the job?

The SEC used to be coached by the greatest. They were uniquely Southern and they defended and fought for their schools with vigor. And they weren’t from Michigan. Instead they were from Moro Bottom, Ark., Greenville, Texas and Blythe, Ga.

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Their names were of Southern lore as well. They went by “Bear,” “General,” and “Shug.” They coached for decades. Bear Bryant, Vince Dooley, Shug Jordan and Johnny Vaught all coached their respective teams for 25 years. Charlie McClendon coached LSU for 18 years. General Neyland coached Tennessee for 21 years. The Head Ball Coach, Steve Spurrier, coached Florida for 12 years and South Carolina for 11.

They became as much a part of the state’s culture as they did their school’s culture. The reason they were so successful is because they loved their schools, they loved their teams, and they loved their state.

They built teams that Alabamians and Georgians and Mississippians could believe in. These people were often poor, broken and defeated. On Saturday, though, they sought refuge and they turned to their heroes. While school systems and politicians and elitists held them down, Frank Broyles, R. C. Slocum, Phil Fulmer, Pat Dye and so many others gave them hope.

Today, you don’t really see that anymore. Maybe it’s because things aren’t as bad as they were back then. Maybe it’s because SEC football is not the refuge it used to be. Maybe people don’t really care anymore. Maybe they don’t need a Bear Bryant or a General Neyland.

But maybe it’s none of those things. Maybe they are quietly praying. Praying for their chance at glory, their chance at greatness, their chance to be coached by the next legend.

They used to be gods. Maybe one day they will return.

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