- Josh and Swain Newsletter
- 🏈 More college football changes are coming
🏈 More college football changes are coming
Tennessee continues to thrive during the changes
Hello. This is the Josh and Swain Newsletter, a quick roundup of the week’s top stories and topics involving Tennessee and the sports world.
Here’s what we have for you today:
How Tennessee has fared in the NIL race
A rising star in Tennessee’s basketball program
Favorite tales from a VFL Films legend
Why Chase Burns and Tennessee couldn’t make it work
AS THE NIL WORLD TURNS
Not another NIL story.
Fair reaction… but this one is a little different.
Saturday will mark two years since NCAA rules changed, allowing college athletes to profit off their name, image, and likeness.
The rule change occurred around the same time as athletes being allowed to transfer (once) as undergraduates and play right away.
After two-plus years of NIL-related stories, they’re easy to tune out.
There was one this week that might offer a little more interest.
Texas A&M athletic director Ross Bjork talked publicly about NIL rules and laws in the state of Texas this week..
Texas A&M’s 12th Man Foundation operates in a way that might violate the way the NCAA’s NIL rules are structured.
But the law in Texas allows A&M’s plan.
What did Bjork say about the potential NCAA rule violations?"
“The state law is going to govern how we do business,” Bjork told ESPN. “We will continue to communicate with the NCAA on a variety of matters, but in terms of this, the state law will reign.”
So if you have a problem with it, Bjork wants to know what you’re going to do about it.
Here’s a question: what does SEC commissioner Greg Sankey (and other SEC institutions) think?
Here’s my best guess as to what fans care about:
✅ How is our NIL doing?
✅ Do we have enough players who can help us win?
✅ Do we have the right coaches in place to make sure we keep winning?
Is my team going to win?
That’s what fans want to know.
For Tennessee, things are good.
On3 called Tennessee’s Spyre Sports Group the most ambitious collective in college sports.
And with that, Tennessee is competing at a high level in every sport. Starting with football.
The recent NIL, transfer, and conference expansion moves tell us more change is coming. ESPN’s Chris Low on Josh and Swain:
Money has always been a major player in the world of college sports, especially football.
It’s more of a public talking point now than ever. And it’s not going away.
Texas A&M’s latest move just made the game more interesting.
TOBE’S BLOWING UP
Have you been keeping up with USA’s under-19 basketball team?
If not, that’s understandable.
Tennessee fans will enjoy this update: Tobe Awaka has looked like a man possessed during international play.
The Vols’ rising sophomore is averaging a double-double for Team USA through four games at the FIBA U19 Men’s World Cup in Hungary.
Through four FIBA U19 World Cup games, @Vol_Hoops sophomore Tobe Awaka leads all players in the tournament in total rebounds (10.0 rpg), off. rebounds (5.0 orpg) and rebounds per 40 mins (21.3).
He is the only player among the top 12 rebounders averaging fewer than 20 mpg (18.9)
— Tennessee Stats & Info (@Vol_Stats)
Jun 28, 2023
Awaka has tremendous potential for this upcoming season and the rest of his time at Tennessee.
He showed up looking like he belonged in the SEC. And that was before he learned anything about playing at a high level in college.
Awaka’s time with Tennessee’s staff and USA Basketball will expedite his development.
With seniors Olivier Nkamhoua and Uros Plavsic gone, there’s a greater need in the front court.
Jonas Aidoo will play a big role. And transfer Chris Ledlum will be an important addition.
But the development of Awaka might make the biggest difference for Tennessee.
Several returning players will have a chance to make a big impact.
Jahmai Mashack’s game continues to grow.
DJ Jefferson, who redshirted last season, is one of the most athletic players in the SEC.
And a guy named Zakai Zeigler should help at point guard when he returns from his knee injury.
We haven’t even gotten to the returning seniors, wing transfers, and impact freshman Freddie Dilione.
There’s a lot to figure out with Tennessee’s rotation and minutes share.
How much the offense will improve is another question.
But no one should question Tennessee’s depth and talent on the basketball court.
Go watch some Awaka highlights for a reminder.
🏈 Recruiting continues to be the main focus for Tennessee’s staff. Check out our latest interview with Volquest’s Austin Price.
🏈 Changes are coming to the national letter of intent process in college sports.
🏈 UAB football coach Trent Dilfer sent a warning to Power 5 coaches who tamper with his roster: “I’ll call your ass out.”
🏈 The NFL handed out more gambling-related suspensions on Thursday. Does the NFL need to adjust its rules regarding better on non-NFL sports?
🏀 NBA free agency will open Friday evening. Will VFL Grant Williams return to Boston or play elsewhere next season?
🏀 Here’s an NBA Free Agency primer from The Ringer before the madness begins.
👩💼 UT Chancellor Donde Plowman will begin her role as vice president of the SEC’s Executive Committee on Saturday. She’s one of seven members on the committee.
💰💰 Quick plug: ZenSports is a new sportsbook in Tennessee with cash rewards. Receive an unlimited 5% cash back welcome bonus using promo code JOSHTN after clicking here.
A TENNESSEE LEGEND STEPS AWAY
Barry Rice announced his retirement from his role as Senior Director of VFL Films this week.
If you don’t know Barry Rice, you probably know his work.
No athletic program in the country has produced better videos and told better stories than Tennessee.
And a lot of that is due to Rice.
“Barry and Link” have been legendary names around Tennessee because of the work they’ve done — Link being Link Hudson, who retired earlier this year.
There are many talented people at the University of Tennessee that will continue their work.
We’ve been lucky to see it for so many years.
Check out the “Best of Barry Rice” video the Vol Network shared earlier this week.
BYE TO BURNS, HELLO TO OTHERS
Tennessee baseball said goodbye to pitcher Chase Burns this week.
The Vols’ top pitcher from the postseason has decided to transfer, according to head coach Tony Vitello.
The news wasn’t surprising for anyone who heard the rumor before the end of the season.
But after watching Burns help lead Tennessee to its first win at the College World Series since 2001, it’s a bit of a head-scratcher.
◾ just experienced big success to finish the season
◾ would project as one of Tennessee’s top starters for next year
◾ is from the state of Tennessee and could leave UT with a great legacy
But Burns decided he’d rather spend his last year in college before going to the MLB Draft.
The most interesting comment Vitello made on SportsTalk on Tuesday was that he knew for a while that Burns planned to transfer after the season.
That means Burns’ best performances of the season came knowing he’d leave. And with members of the team knowing it, too.
Two things can be true:
It’s frustrating to lose such a talented player who could have done more for the program.
It’s impressive that he pitched so well to help Tennessee’s postseason run.
The Vols wouldn’t have made it to Omaha, let alone win a game there, without Burns.
He doesn’t appear happy about the move from starter to reliever during the season. But that move also worked well for both Burns and Tennessee.
It’s too bad this is the ending.
Tennessee baseball will be fine without him.
Vitello and his staff have already found reinforcements in the transfer portal.
And Burns will have a chance to pitch well next year and solidify himself as a pro prospect.
Both sides can succeed without the other.
But think about what they could have done with another year together.
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