"How in the hell is Matt Giles the sports editor of this paper?"
To whomever sent in that anonymous rant to The Daily Beacon a month ago, thank you.
Although many on this campus have been left with the same question after reading my negative rants about Tennessee football players, coaches and fans - as well as my unnecessary references to Duke basketball - you put the question in print.
Now - on my final day as sports editor of the best college newspaper in the country in terms of people - I get to answer it.
And like always, I refuse to take any responsibility.
Blame my dad.
First, he's the reason my brain is made up of 95 percent "Duke basketball" and 5 percent "Whatever else happens in this world."
But he's also the one who decided to take Mom and me on a trip to the Tennessee-LSU game in Knoxville in the fall of 2001 - the first time I stepped foot in this state.
A year had passed since I sat my parents down and told them I was dropping out of Duke University.
My father was determined for me to move on. He didn't care where exactly I moved, just so long as it was out of his house.
We came to Tennessee because (a) I used to watch and admire Peyton Manning and (b) I wanted to write about sports at a school with a big-time athletics program.
Blame Kelley Washington.
On that Sept. 29 in 2001, Washington caught 11 passes for 256 yards in UT's 26-18 win over LSU.
As I watched 108,472 people cheer for "The Future," I had a vision. I thought about one day being the sports editor at this school.
During football season.
Since so many people in this town care so much about football, I thought, people on this campus would have no other choice but to read my opinions.
I went home to Cary, N.C., applied to UT, then enrolled in Jan. 2002.
Washington, meanwhile, went on to alienate himself and destroy the Vols' team unity during my first football season as a student. That was the first negative thought I ever had about UT football.
Blame Jeff Haws.
He was the sports editor of this paper in the fall of 2002.
While he did a great job covering that Washington-ruined football season, he made a costly decision the next semester. Haws provided the initial spark to make the one-and-only Matt Giles come down to Room 5 in the basement of Communications.
We were in the same sports writing class in the spring of 2003. At the time, he actually said I was talented, and he recommended my name to soon-to-be-sports editor Brett Edgerton.
Blame Brett Edgerton.
After Jeff gave me Brett's cell phone number, I called him. Brett was at a UT baseball game at the time.
But for some reason, he stepped away for a few moments to hear me talk about myself - which, of course, included some stupid stories about Duke basketball. Brett, though, actually made me feel funny and interesting that day.
Blame that on the rain, I guess.
Then I told Brett - who was set to be sports editor for the summer and fall of 2003 - that I knew a Vol linebacker who I wanted to write a story about for an issue in the summer. Brett told me nobody's first article at the Beacon has ever been about football.
But mine was.
On July 1, 2003, my words about Kevin Simon's recovery from injury were published. I could actually feel my head expanding.
Blame Glenn LaFollette.
As I worked under the funniest columnist in the history of The Beacon during the spring of 2004, I learned it was all right to be a jackass.
Last semester, even Glenn - a lifelong UNC fan - reacted to me as if I was insightful and humorous when I talked about Duke basketball. I swear.
Then Glenn recommended me to be the new sports editor. Please don't punch him for doing this (his nose has finally healed).
Blame Wes Todd.
Unlike Glenn and Brett, my assistant this semester never even pretended to want to hear about Duke basketball.
We are total opposites.
And if it wasn't for Mr. I-Always-Disagree-With-Matt urging me to tone down my hateful words toward certain UT quarterbacks, I probably wouldn't be sitting here writing this column.
I'd be lying in a gutter somewhere after my public lynching outside Neyland Stadium.
Thanks, Wes, and good luck next semester as sports editor. I promise to visit often in March to update you on Duke's journey to win its fourth national title.
Blame Jason Johnson and Laura Pack.
They - the editor and managing editor of this paper - hired me even after I talked mostly about Duke during my interview last spring.
And, somehow, they never fired me even after having to put Post-It Notes on my computer at least three times a week to remind me that my stories were late.
Blame everyone who contributed to the horror story titled, "It's My Ball."
As for the next question I plan to hear from my critics...
How in the hell did Matt Giles succeed Mike Krzyzewski as Duke's basketball coach?
I'll explain that story in 10 years as I rest securely in my padded cell at the UNC Medical Center Mental Ward.
- Matt Giles' tenure as sports editor of The Daily Beacon is now officially over (pause for celebration). He can be reached at mgiles@utk.edu.