In his first couple of weeks as head basketball coach of the University of Tennessee, Buzz Peterson has said all the right things.
You would think the former Tulsa Golden Hurricane has a golden tongue the way he has played the crowd so far. Since he was introduced to a packed house of fans, media, UT representatives and players on April 4 with a gift of his favorite Krispy Kreme Doug
hnuts, you would think the little voice in his head went to former UT coach Ray Mears' School of Pleasing Vol Fans.
On the Vol Calls program on April 9, Peterson even said he would consult Mears and ask his advice on coaching in the SEC. Is this guy too good to be true?
He did everything short of breaking out a Phillip Fulmer autographed sweatshirt at the press conference. Every Tennessee fan worth his barbecue knows football is king around here, and obviously, Peterson knows it too.
I told coach (UT Athletic Director Doug) Dickey on the plane ride when we were talking and going over some things, we can talk about other things, but I'll tell you one thing, I need some football tickets, Peterson said.
You could just see the hearts forming in the eyes of Joe Volfan in the cheap seats. Heck, even Fulmer himself almost fell out of his seat laughing.
Jerry Green would scoff at such a comment. But then again, you can't very well compare Peterson to Green can you? At least Peterson remembered what school had just hired him, unlike Green, who surprisingly got through his introduction as the new Tennessee
coach four years ago without any blunders. He wasn't so successful at his previous job when somebody had to remind him of where he had just been hired during his introduction speech.
Is that not a classic passage from the Big Book of Duh?
Uh, coach. It's Oregon.
Peterson did everything short of bringing his Bible with him into the Ray Mears Room at Thompson-Boling Arena too. My faith in Christ is the No. 1 thing, my family is second and my profession is third, he said.
That one really won over the room. There was even a chorus of Amens after he said it. This guy wasn't just pushing all of the right buttons, he was working the whole control panel.
The 37-year-old Peterson vowed to become just one of the guys, but to instill discipline while doing it. He told one sports columnist, In February I suspended two kids for missing (midnight) curfew ... I'm a father figure and I've got to watch over them.
Wait a minute. Did he say (gasp!) suspension? Since they've recently been through the Green era, Tennessee fans are probably not familiar with the word. According to Webster's New World College Dictionary, a suspension is a temporary barring from an off
ice, school, etc.
In other words, those two kids didn't play in the next game.
I searched for but did not find the alternate definition: What Tony Harris should have received after his incident in the Kentucky game. I'm currently writing Webster's and requesting its addition.
Peterson has always been known for his intensity. Oh, I know, Green did uncross his arms occasionally too. Green assistant coach Byron Samuels was quoted in the Chattanooga Times-Free Press as saying of his boss, he's a feisty guy.
Yeah right. Doormats are feistier than Green. The only time Green ever got feisty was when somebody asked him about his job security or when fans didn't show up for games or booed when they did.
If you don't like what you see, you can go to K-mart and buy movies, Green once said on a call-in show during his last year as the UT coach.
Conversely, Peterson seemed anxious to go out into the public and meet the core of the Big Orange nucleus.
I look forward to shaking hands with the people of Tennessee, Peterson said. Wow, a coach who seems to respect the fans.
Green always said that if representatives weren't happy with what he was doing as the UT coach, they knew what process they could go through to get him terminated. Well, sometimes you get what you wish for.
Peterson knows that too.
For a boy growing up in Asheville, N.C., this is my dream come true, Peterson said.
If he keeps talking like he has so far, he may be living out his dream in Knoxville for a long time. You can bet your doughnuts on that.
Peterson may be Vols' dream coach
Published: Wed Apr 18, 2001 | Modified: Sat Aug 06, 2005 03:38 p.m.