Rising: Concerns over Crimean invasion
For those of you who haven't been following the Russia-Ukraine saga as it has developed, here's the rundown: Ukraine's government is becoming increasingly pro-Western, but the majority of ethnic Russians in Crimea, a small peninsula between mainland Ukraine and Russia, has led Russia to take over that part of Ukraine, which houses key military advantages in the Black Sea. Obama has been criticized for his foreign policy in Syria – where he drew a "red line" but never enforced it – and some political analysts have suggested that Russia's aggression is a not-so-subtle sign from Vladimir Putin that the Russians are not intimidated by the U.S. Others say the crisis is a resurfacing of Cold War tensions. This much is certain – Thursday's announcement of a referendum to vote on the region's future suggests progress.
Falling: Understanding of middle school invasion
Campus was invaded Thursday by the visits of middle and high school-aged children. Whether they come to observe college students in their natural habitat, to visit the McClung Museum, or to hear from one of UT's many decorated professors, no one can be certain. All we students know is that small, excited creatures invaded campus Thursday, wide-eyed and typically standing in the way. The ogling stares might tempt you to growl or bark, as if you were an animal at a zoo, but it is generally advised to avoid drawing attention to yourself – you never know what horror awaits an actual face-to-face interaction with the invaders. One student reported that one of the children asked her to hug him; she declined his request.
Rising: Hoop dreams
The Lady Vols are slated for a potential return to the throne this year; the men's team looks to sneak into March Madness after a third straight year of riding the bubble. There's even more on the line for Cuonzo Martin and his team, as former coach Bruce Pearl becomes eligible to coach at a Division I NCAA school after the conclusion of this season. Will UT be willing to bring in a proven winner, even if he's a proven liar? It may depend on whether Martin's third season can end in a successful presence in the year-end tournament. As for the Lady Vols, the weight may fall squarely on the shoulders of star guard, Meighan Simmons. The team's only senior will be looked to for leadership; if she can deliver, it could be a deep run for a team that ended the season by winning 10 of its last 11 games.
Falling: "Pig" Howard's predicted offensive output
"Dealing with personal circumstances." That's how Coach Butch Jones explained "Pig" Howard's announced leave of absence from the team Wednesday. Though the rising junior was one of UT's most productive offensive weapons last season – catching 44 passes for 388 yards and three touchdowns – it appears, for the moment, that more weight will be shouldered by rising sophomore Marquez North and true freshman Josh Malone, a four-star recruit that ESPN ranked seventh at his position coming out of high school. And whether Howard will return is hard to tell – he's still enrolled at UT, but the length of his leave is up in the air.
Rising: SGA campaign season
The campaigns have declared; the petitions have been signed; the traditional, glamorous publicity photos have been taken – it's election time in Tennessee. Two main campaigns have emerged, We Are UT and Keny – Dugosh, and one nebulous campaign, [Insert]. Fronting We Are UT are presidential candidate Carly Frensley, vice presidential candidate Jack Johnson, student services director Katelyn Hadder, and board of trustees candidate R.J. Duncan. Keny – Dugosh, meanwhile, has eschewed the traditional election campaign format and stuck to a simple ticket: Kelsey Keny for president and Connor Dugosh for vice president. [Insert], the third campaign, describes itself on the group's Facebook page: "Everyone knows that being the best SGA campaign is like being the most buoyant turd in the septic tank, but we here at [Insert] plan on being the best buoyant turd we can be." The ticket comprises "Stone Cold" Quinn Cowan for president, Ryan "Nighthawk" Whitener for vice president, Kyle "Ice Blood" White for student service director, and Cody "Big Honey" Walsh for the board of trustees.
Falling: Number of Days until Spring Break
Seven days, y'all. We can make it!
This week's Rocky Tops and Bottoms was compiled by Editor-in-Chief, R.J. Vogt.