On Dec. 6, Tennessee announced the hiring of former Vol Jay Graham as the team’s running backs coach. Graham replaced Charlie Baggitt, who retired after spending two seasons as wide receivers coach and associate head coach. Graham was a running back for the Vols from 1993-96 and ranks seventh on UT’s career rushing list with 2,609 yards.
On Dec. 22, junior college defensive lineman Darrington Sentimore signed a national letter of intent to play for the Vols. He enrolled in classes for the Spring Semester and will have two years of eligibility remaining after spending last year at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and his freshman campaign at the University of Alabama.
On Jan. 2, defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox and linebackers coach Peter Sirmon left for the same positions at the University of Washington. Wilcox and Sirmon, who are both from the West Coast and were roommates while playing at the University of Oregon, had been at UT for two seasons.
Eric Russell, who served as tight ends coach and special teams coordinator for the past two seasons, also left to reunite with new Washington State coach Mike Leach.
Coaches weren’t the only ones departing from Tennessee. Freshman wide receiver DeAnthony Arnett is transferring to Michigan State after coach Derek Dooley released him from his scholarship. Dooley initially wanted to limit Arnett’s transfer to just a Mid-American Conference school, but since Arnett’s transfer plans centered on being closer to his ailing father in Saginaw, Mich., Dooley allowed him to go to Michigan or Michigan State.
Who said Tennessee basketball wouldn’t be exciting since Bruce Pearl left? The Vols lost to Austin Peay at home a few days after break started, which was part of a stretch when they lost six of seven games. Now the team has won five of six games, only dropping a Jan. 4 rematch at Memphis, 69-51. The Vols had a 67-56 stunner over then No. 13 Florida Saturday, both squads’ SEC opener.
Tennessee (8-7, 1-0 SEC) also got a boost with the addition of five-star freshman Jarnell Stokes Dec. 23. The 6-foot-8 power forward from Memphis graduated high school in December and is enrolled at UT this semester, making him eligible to play. However, coach Cuonzo Martin is still working out how to get him in the rotation.
The Vols play next at No. 20 Mississippi State at 9 p.m., then host No. 2 Kentucky Saturday at noon.
After losing two in a row to Virginia and No. 1 Baylor in November, Pat Summitt and the Lady Vols (12-3, 3-0 SEC) have won 10 of their last 11. While we were on break, Tennessee beat the likes of UCLA and Rutgers, but fell on a road trip to Stanford Dec. 20, 97-80. With wins over Auburn, Georgia and Arkansas, the Lady Vols are 3-0 in SEC play.
Their next game is at Kentucky, Thursday at 7 p.m.
In a tumultuous time on the men’s side of the Tennessee athletic department, the swimming program managed to stay away from the drama.
But no more.
Tennessee fired coach John Trembley Jan. 3. The termination letter from athletic director Dave Hart cited “acts of gross misconduct as defined by University policy” as the reason for the firing. The Knoxville Police Department is conducting an investigation.
Trembley, a six-time SEC Coach of the Year, was the most tenured coach at UT other than Pat Summitt, leading the Vols since 1988. He was an All-American swimmer for Tennessee in the 1970s.
Assistant coach Lars Jorgensen will serve as the interim replacement for the remainder of the season.
If all of that weren’t enough, junior Ryan Harrison was dismissed from the team for “violation of team policy.” Harrison, an Ireland native, was one of UT’s top freestylers
Programs lose coaches, players