Tough times ahead for Vol basketball

Marvin Westwestwords

Really tough times coming for Tennessee basketball.

The Vols will fly to Italy, stay 10 days, eat some spaghetti alla Carbonara, maybe some Fiorentina steak or polenta, play three exhibition games and see a bit of history up close and personal.

The trip is called athletic bonding, cultural immersion and an exciting sight-seeing experience. This is genuine enrichment – made possible by money. If Santiago and Ziggy like it, I’m in favor of it.

If it matters, the Volunteers are to play the Lithuanian U21 national team in Florence on Aug. 4-5 and Italian club team A.S. Stella Azzura in Rome on Aug. 7. For different money, you can see the games streamed live.

For a lot more money, you can go along for the ride. First prize: Getting better acquainted with the Vols.

Early days of the adventure will be in the Lake Como region, complete with a boat ride. The group will take a bus to Florence and catch a train for Rome. How’s that for old-fashioned what-used-to-be?

Believe me, Rome is the cultural main event. The Vols will see the Colosseum, the largest amphitheater ever, started by the emperor Vespasian, completed in 80 AD.

I wasn’t there but I hear it was used for gladiatorial combat and other entertaining public spectacles, including lion hunts, execution of criminals, re-enactments of famous battles and dramas based on Roman mythology.

The Vols will see the Pantheon, a former Roman temple and a Catholic church, Basilica of St. Mary and the Martyrs, since 609 AD.

They may climb the steep Spanish Steps, 135 up from the Piazza di Spagna to the Trinità dei Monti church at the top. Interesting that the name says Spanish but the building fund was French.

Trevi Fountain is one of the most famous in the world. Don’t be shocked if you hear the water is black. On May 21, climate activists Last Generation vandalized the area and used charcoal to dye the 300,000 gallons of water. I’m not sure I understand why almost sane people do such things.

Vatican City, 121 acres, population 453 in the 2019 census, is the smallest state in the world. The Pope is in charge. The Vatican contains religious and cultural sites such as St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and museums. They feature some of the world’s most famous paintings and sculptures.

The unique economy is supported by donations from the faithful, sale of postage stamps, publications and souvenirs and museum admission fees. Every day is tax-free for residential Catholics.

Not incidentally, the Swiss Guard has been hired to protect the pontiff since 1506. Believe me, he is safe.

Rick Barnes can speak at length on all these landmarks, maybe even in Italian. As coaches go, he is already cultured.

On the trip will be other Vol coaches, wives, support staff, a few affluent fans, Santiago Vescovi, Josiah-Jordan James, Zakai Zeigler, Tobe Awaka, Jonas Aidoo, Jahmai Mashack, D.J. Jefferson and Freddie Dilione.

Blending will be transfers Dalton Knecht and Jordan Gainey and freshmen Cameron Carr, J.P. Estrella and Cade Phillips.

Travel safely.

From what I am hearing, Tennessee fans strongly oppose Dr. Danny White’s floated idea to rename Lindsey Nelson Stadium for $8 million and change.

The athletics director raised that possibility as stadium improvement costs flew skyward. The potential gain just happened to be the same as the NCAA fine for football sins. I think no connection.

Danny didn’t threaten to do it. He was just checking to see if Lindsey is a sacred name. It is. So is General Robert R. Neyland. Don’t go there.

The most whispered topic in college football is how much longer will Nick Saban enjoy coaching Alabama football.

No. 2 topic is how many years at $11.7 million each would he throw back. The coach will be 72 in October. His contract runs through the 2030 season. He says he plans to stay on the job “if I’m still alive.”

He says he feels like a young man.

“They don’t make ‘em like they used to.”

Blinking caution light: In serious conversation, Saban wouldn’t give Archie Manning a guarantee he would be coaching through grandson Arch’s entire college career.

Just saw College Football News’ list of Heisman Trophy prospects. Joe Milton III was No. 6. As far-out hopes go, I liked that better than the Fox list that had him 25th.

Marvin West welcomes reader comments or questions. His address is


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  1. Pingback: Vol Stuff by Marlon McKinney – July 29 - Off The Hook Sports with Dave Hooker

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