Tidbits: Famous transfers, coaching chain

Marvin WestSouth Knox, westwords

News and commentary, short form:


The significant turnover in Tennessee track and field is still turning.

NCAA 400 champion Randolph Ross confirmed that he is coming from North Carolina A&T with his coaching father, Duane. Little sister Jonah Ross, 100-meter runner, will be part of the move.

“It was my father’s decision to change schools, and my sister and I are going to support him,” Randolph said.

He will have a year and a half of eligibility at Tennessee. Jonah will compete as a junior. Goodness knows the Lady Vols can use some help. Tennessee women scored just one point in the NCAA championships, good for a share of 62nd place.

No surprise that Randolph and Jonah are coming. Who else is a valid question. Sophomore Javonte Harding, Big South Conference 100 and 200 champion who finished third in the NCAA 100, is a possibility.

A&T freshman Grace Nwokocha of Nigeria, sixth in the NCAA 100 and 200, might be a transfer.

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There is uncomfortable outgoing news. Two key Volunteers, NCAA long-jump champion Wayne Pinnock and fourth-place jumper Carey McLeod, have transferred to Arkansas.

Their coach at UT, Nick Newman, was national assistant coach of the year. Auburn scooped him up soon after Beth Alford-Sullivan and her staff were unemployed.

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Roland Julian, former Young High athlete and News-Sentinel sports writer, reports the East Tennessee coaching chain has lost another link.

Harry Sparks

Harry Sparks, long-ago coach at Oliver Springs and Young, has died. He was a standout player on the 1955 Lenoir City basketball team that finished fourth in the state tournament. He is in the school’s hall of fame.

Tommy Bartlett was coach of the Panthers.

Bartlett and Sparks moved on to Carson-Newman basketball. Harry’s best game? Thirty-one against Union (Kentucky) College. Bartlett became a Ray Mears assistant at Tennessee and head coach at Florida.

Coaching chain? Sparks coached George Pitts at Young. Pitts coached at Bearden, Johnson City and King College.

The family will receive friends from 6-7 p.m. Saturday, July 9, at  Berry Funeral Home, 3704 Chapman Highway, with a memorial service to follow at 7. The full obituary is here.

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Could it be Butch Jones has faked out Arkansas State or perhaps school officials are stumbling over numbers?

On Dec. 13, 2020, Butch signed a five-year contract calling for $825,000 per season with a key clause promising a one-year extension any time the Red Wolves win eight games.

They went 2-10 in Butch’s first try and he, surprisingly, got a one-year reward. The extension was apparently based on positive recruiting and how bright tomorrow appears to be.

“Coach Jones is completely changing the culture, discipline and overall organization of our football program, and we’re excited about the future under his guidance as head coach,” said Dr. Chuck Welch, ASU system president.

“He has a strong track record of success, and we have confidence in the process he is taking our football team through to attain a high level of success on a consistent basis.”

Among the comments was a leftover from his time at Tennessee: “Sounds like brick by brick.”

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The Lindsey Nelson series generated interesting commentary. D. Lynn Johnson, former Vol second baseman, team captain and later a distinguished UT trustee, dusted off a few memories.

“Coach Bill Wright held a baseball banquet and presented the Tennessee Alumnus Award … I was the chosen recipient in 1982. Pete Rose was the featured speaker. Lindsey Nelson was the emcee.

“Yes, he was wearing one of his famous colorful jackets. Actually, Lindsey was the hit of the evening, even though Pete was the attraction that drew the large audience.

“Years later, Jack Williams, a UT vice president and former Tennessee Alumnus Award recipient, had Lindsey’s daughter, Nancy, at a football game as a guest of the university. I spent maybe 30 minutes talking with her. She was delightful and told good stories about her dad.

“Jack told me that Nancy was the original Smokey at UT.”

Marvin West welcomes reader comments or questions. Hi address is marvinwest75@gmail.com

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