🏈 Tennessee's WILD week

Tennessee is ready to fight

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:

  • Catching up on (almost) everything that happened in UT vs NCAA

  • The long list of Tennessee basketball players who need to bounce back

  • One final run for an all-time television show

  • What happens next for the NCAA and future of college football?

TENNESSEE’S BIG FIGHT VS THE NCAA

Danny White and Donde Plowman are not backing down

The University of Tennessee had an EVENTFUL week.

News broke late Tuesday morning that the NCAA was investigating Tennessee’s athletic department, Spyre Sports, and the Vol Club, Spyre’s collective that supports UT athletes.

And things got heated really fast.

Here’s a brief rundown of what transpired over the next 72-ish hours:

◼️ Donde Plowman’s scathing letter to the NCAA went public
◼️ Well-known attorney Tom Mars released a statement on behalf of Spyre
◼️ The attorneys general from Tennessee + Virginia filed an antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA
◼️ The NCAA released a statement in its own defense
◼️ Tennessee OL Jackson Lampley filed a declaration that he’s ready to testify in the antitrust lawsuit
◼️ Tennessee AD Danny White released his own statement, which began by mocking the NCAA’s statement and included an I-Dare-You message to the organization

Meanwhile, many national media members came to the defense of Tennessee as all of this was going on.

So what happens next?

A fight would be the best guess.

To be clear, Tennessee isn’t the only school being targeted by the NCAA.

Miami’s women’s basketball program received penalties last year in a case involving twins Haley and Hanna Cavinder.

Florida State accepted an NIL-related penalty last month.

Florida and Texas A&M have also caught the NCAA’s eye.

And other schools are expected to be in the mix at some point (perhaps that point comes soon).

But no school has responded to the NCAA like Tennessee did.

Not at all.

Tennessee sent a “want some, come get some” message.

Danny White’s statement might as well have called the NCAA “friendly acting, envy-hiding snakes.”

By the way, all of this has happened without a report of what the NCAA is actually alleging against Tennessee.

In fact, Tennessee hasn’t received a notice of allegations yet.

That’s why Plowman’s letter, which you can read here, was masterful PR work.

Her strongly-worded response led many people around the country to back Tennessee and push back on the NCAA… without knowing what they were pushing back on.

The NCAA’s recent record in the court room is not good — and that’s putting it nicely.

But that doesn’t mean the NCAA will stop coming.

So buckle up, because this could go on for a while.

Tennessee has the time and the money.

It also can’t afford to back down.

With UT’s probation from the Jeremy Pruitt case, the school knows it has to avoid more punishment from the NCAA.

So let the court battle begin.

And may the best litigators win.

By the way, Jayson Swain offered very little concern on UT’s behalf when news of the investigation first broke on Tuesday.

And he explained why in our opening segment on Wednesday, which you can watch below. ⬇️⬇️

TENNESSEE HEADS TO RUPP ARENA

Santiago Vescovi and his teammates try to get it going again

Tennessee’s basketball team had an ugly showing against South Carolina on Tuesday.

Three days later, there’s no need to dive deep into what happened.

Just look at these offensive numbers from the loss.

GROSS.

Dalton Knecht wasn’t perfect but he did everything he could to help Tennessee win.

And Knecht was the only option late in the game.

Everyone needs to be better when the Vols go to Rupp Arena on Saturday.

📍 Lexington, Ky.
📅 Saturday, Feb. 3
8:30 p.m. ET
📺 ESPN
📻 99.1 The Sports Animal/WIVK

Jonas Aidoo needs to be better around the rim.

Zakai Zeigler has to help initiate offense and provide another scoring threat.

Josiah-Jordan James needs to provide… something on the offensive end.

➡️ Here’s another reminder: the loss to South Carolina was ugly, but it was only one game.

It was also against a quality team; South Carolina is firmly in the NCAA Tournament field right now.

Just this week:
• Kentucky lost at home to Florida
• North Carolina lost at Georgia Tech, which has a losing record
• Purdue needed overtime to beat Northwestern at home

College basketball is a funny and unpredictable game.

But that doesn’t mean Tennessee should excuse an awful offensive performance at home.

And if the Vols lose on Saturday, their regular season championship hopes in the SEC will take a big hit.

On the flip side, a road win at Kentucky would be huge for Tennessee’s psyche — both the team and fanbase.

KenPom likes the Vols’ chances this weekend, and any team with Knecht has a chance.

He has struggled at the free throw line in the last two games, but he’s also scored 25+ points in six straight games.

Opposing teams have been unable to keep up with Knecht.

But his teammates haven’t provided him enough help at times.

If they do their part on Saturday, Tennessee will have a good chance to win.

Check out more hoops talk from this week with VFL Ron Slay, also an afternoon host on 3HL in Nashville and college hoops analyst on the SEC Network. This past week’s chat is timestamped to our UT-Kentucky discussion. ⬇️⬇️

SPORTS NUGGETS

🏈 Joe Milton III will play in the Senior Bowl this weekend and has received positive reviews so far this week.

🏈 On3’s Andy Staples wrote about the Tennessee-NCAA battle and the effect on college athletics.

🏈 Here’s a look at the full list of NFL head coaching hires. Who did the best?

🏈 Drake Maye over Caleb Williams? Here’s one mock draft that says so.

🏀 Here’s a look at this weekend’s top-10 matchups, which will feature Tennessee at Kentucky.

🏀 76ers center Joel Embiid suffered a lateral meniscus injury in his left knee. The team is still considering recovery options.

⚾ The latest college baseball poll ranks Tony Vitello’s Tennessee at No. 5 in the country. UT’s season will open in two weeks against Texas Tech.

🏎️ Big news in the racing world as Lewis Hamilton will leave Mercedes for Ferrari after 2024.

STICK TO SPORTS!

Bittersweet: The final season of Curb is here

A brief pause from the sports world — it’s been a week! — to offer a reminder that Curb Your Enthusiasm will return to HBO on Sunday.

LD and the crew will launch their 12th and final season.

The hit show, which was created by “social assassin” Larry David, began in 2000 and has been nominated for 47 Primetime Emmy Awards.

Curb isn’t for everyone. But maybe it should be.

So enjoy one final run with Larry, Jeff, Suzy, Leon, and the many wonderful characters of the show.

It should be pretty, pretty, pretty good.

⬇️ Here’s the trailer for Season 12. (WARNING: explicit language)

WHAT’S NEXT FOR COLLEGE FOOTBALL

What will the NCAA offices look like in five years?

There’s another angle to Tennessee’s battle with the NCAA that many folks have discussed this week.

What does this all mean for the future of college sports?

And here’s another question:

If schools really want athletes to maximize the amount of money they can earn, will that result in them becoming employees of the universities they represent?

Maybe not right away, but that looks like a real possibility in the future.

Remember, schools are trying to figure out a way to limit the abundance of players transferring each year.

Contracts could help with that problem.

Players can make good money off their name, image and likeness (which is only part of why they’re being paid right now, if we’re being honest).

But real money comes from schools that are bringing in $150+ million every year.

There is a ton of revenue in college sports. And athletes will want their share

Imagine the negotiating that would take place when SEC and Big Ten schools are battling over a high-level football or basketball player.

There’s another obvious question: do fans want college athletes to become employees?

Some will say yes, some will say no, and others might just accept it as the next big change in college sports.

Make no mistake: more change is coming.

And Tennessee looks like it will be at the center of it.

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