I have just $7.32 to my name. But I would give it all just to see Pat Summitt have her way with the Tennessee football team for a day.
That would be a start toward helping the UT men's sports programs catch up with the women.
After three Lady Vol teams won conference championships last year (basketball, soccer and cross country), the women's sports program captured the SEC all-sports title. Ten of the 11 squads advanced to their respective NCAA events.
The men's 2003-2004 SEC Team Championship total - zero.
But the stat alone doesn't tell the whole story about last year's struggles by UT athletes with a Y-chromosome. The three most-watched Vol teams finished their seasons with embarrassing losses and lackadaisical efforts.
Summitt would probably not approve. Because I've never seen her allow her Lady Vol basketball players to give up like the football team has done the past two years in the Peach Bowl.
Even more embarrassing, football coach Phillip Fulmer let his players to dip their heads in fear in those games against middle-of-the-pack teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference (which is best known for basketball success).
Speaking of basketball, the Vols didn't exactly light up scoreboards across the SEC.
Coach Buzz Peterson started his third campaign with an impressive 12-2 mark. But then the North Carolina native (who is also very proud to have been Michael Jordan's roommate at UNC) watched his players finish another season without an NCAA Tournament berth.
The men's basketball team finished 17-14 with a loss in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament for Losers against that basketball powerhouse from George Mason.
Peterson is now looking to the future. He has a featured prospect for next season from Kentucky that almost broke into some recruiting analysts' top-100 rankings.
A similar story - the UT baseball team.
The diamond Vols darted out to a 29-5 record. Then they dropped a game to nearby Carson-Newman College, lost hope and finished 38-24.
Maybe the baseball players should learn to throw more like girls.
Because like so many of the Lady Vols' squads, the softball team had a breakout season with a school-record 55 wins. And 45 of those victories were under the direction of left-handed freshman phenom Monica Abbott.
The Salinas, Calif., native finished her first-team All-American season with a 1.03 ERA. Abbott also became the first player to ever earn both the SEC Pitcher and Freshman of the Year Awards.
As a result of the Lady Vols' combined efforts, Joan Cronan garnered the title as the Southeast's top athletics director.
Unlike her male counterpart at UT, Cronan was left in awe when she reflected on her teams' accomplishments during the past year.
"We are fortunate to have an outstanding group of student-athletes," she said, "as well as an excellent coaching staff regarded as one of the best in the nation."
I wish I could pay the winningest college basketball coach ever (Summitt) to discipline UT's struggling men's teams.
But I now only have $6.32 left in my wallet. Because I just bought a Coke to reward myself for having the guts to write this column.
- Matt Giles is the sports editor of The Daily Beacon and a senior in journalism. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
UT men can learn from Lady Vols
Published: Fri Jun 25, 2004 | Modified: Sat Aug 06, 2005 06:10 p.m.