Major history: Three season titles in the same season

Marvin Westwestwords

In years long ago, Chuck Rohe would call in the middle of the night to announce somebody affiliated with Tennessee track had run the fastest third-Thursday-of-the-month half mile in history.

The coach had a unique way of arranging circumstances to make results sound somewhat better than they were. I admired his nifty promotional skills but not the wake-up calls.

Outfielder Hunter Ensley #9 holds the SEC graphic

I can’t believe the Rohe technique remains half a lifetime later but Tennessee fun and games have been rigged to create a celebration.

A semi-prominent news publication (there aren’t many left) says “The Vols have accomplished major history this season, becoming the first SEC school to win the regular season championship in men’s basketball, baseball and softball in the same season.”


Note to editor: As you can see if you look, “season” appears three times in the same sentence.

What a strange combination – basketball, baseball and softball. The group can’t be linked to the calendar. Basketball starts in November. If the idea came from spring sports success, where are golf, tennis and track? Oh, they did not win championships so they are not part of this “major history.”

I refuse to be a full-fledged curmudgeon. Logic be damned, cheers for the champs.


All in the family: Kurt Roper is quarterback coach at North Carolina State, Tennessee’s first foe in September. He was coach of Vol running backs in 2006-2007. His father, Bobby, was part of John Majors’ staff at Pitt and came with the head coach to Tennessee as linebacker coach in 1977-1979.
Thought you’d want to know.


Hendon Hooker has a problem. The Lions signed quarterback Jared Goff to a four-year, $212 million contract extension that includes $170 million guaranteed. I think that means Hooker won’t get the Detroit job anytime soon.


Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is a non-conformist when it comes to the transfer portal. He explains why he doesn’t spend much time with it.

“It’s really pretty simple. Most of the guys in the portal aren’t good enough to play for us. That’s just the reality of it.”

Transfers do help Tennessee. If you are keeping score, the last time they played, Tennessee defeated Clemson.


Is the NCAA yielding or giving up? The limit on the number of football coaches may soon go away. If that happens, analysts will become real people on the field.

Trivial, you say, when compared to the billions the NCAA will pay to settle anti-trust lawsuits. Bingo, you got that right.


Politicians as athletics directors …

North Carolina lawmakers are considering House bill 965 that would require North Carolina and North Carolina State to play each other every season, no matter what conference they represent. That’s logical.

The bill would also require both schools to play one of Appalachian State, Charlotte or East Carolina every season. The Tar Heels and Wolfpack would have to visit the three little brothers at least once every six years.

A similar idea won’t fly in Tennessee. Legislators would get unelected if they forced the Vols to play Memphis. Been there and done that. Kent State and UTEP are OK.

They count one each with minimum risk of failure.


Give this some thought: Agents have arranged amazing contracts that pay football coaches extra for doing what they are paid to do.

Lane Kiffin

Lane Kiffin, trying to get by on a little less than $9 million a year, deposited $250,000 extra because the Rebels played in the Peach Bowl. He received $150,000 each for the fifth and sixth SEC wins of last season. He picked up $100,000 for winning a decent non-conference game against Georgia Tech.

Kiffin received a bonus of $250,000 on the last day of 2023 for remaining the coach at Ole Miss. His retention bonus drops to only $150,000 if he stays to the end of this calendar year.

Lane’s gifts and grants rank no better than third among college coaches. We believe Alabama’s Kalen DeBoer and Louisville’s Jeff Brohm have more numbers in the fine print.

Kiffin may have collected up to $200,000 in bonus money based on season ticket sales. He was actually on commission. The athletics department has been slow to determine his share.

There is another $150,000 for players’ academic progress. That yes or no comes in June when all grades are tabulated.

Josh Heupel

If you have read this far, you are ready for Josh Heupel’s contract. It starts with $9 million annually through 2029. He gets a $1 million bonus if Tennessee wins the national championship. He’d have to settle for $400,000 if the Vols lost in the title game.

The bonus is a mere $300,000 if Tennessee reaches the 12-team College Football Playoff.

Heupel gets $100,000 if Tennessee plays in the SEC championship game and $300,000 if the Vols win. There is a limit to love and tender care. He can’t receive both.

Josh gets $200,000 if Tennessee plays in a New Year’s Six Bowl. He got only $100,000 for the romp over Iowa. The Citrus is not in the top-reward group. That loss at Missouri cost the coach.

Heupel gets $150,000 if Tennessee finishes in the top five in one or more of the polls. He gets $100,000 for a top 10 and half that much for top 25. That’s why Josh so often says “Go Vols!”

There is a nice, friendly $100,000 to go with any major national coach of the year award. SEC coach of the year is worth just $50,000 but he could receive both.

Tennessee doesn’t offer as much as Ole Miss for team academic success – $100,000 instead of $150,000. UT expects student-athletes to read and write.

Kiffin’s agent is the very smart Jimmy Sexton, former Tennessee student manager for football. Josh’s agent is Rick Smith, president at Priority Sports group. He is a Northwestern law graduate.

Unnecessary disclaimer: Duh, I am not and have never been an agent.

Marvin West welcomes comments or questions from readers. His address is


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