Life is unpredictable, and I certainly didn’t expect to find myself a free agent just 10 months after agreeing to join a different company, but here I am after submitting my resignation roughly 30 days ago while also navigating some ongoing health issues and legal contractual matters.
The health issues remain, and I have great people caring for me and about me; hopefully, the shortest stint of any professional stop in my career teaches me enduring lessons and lasting short-term memory loss.
There are things I’ll refrain from saying publicly, and things I cannot say publicly; I mostly attempt to account myself in an amicable manner. Grant Ramey probably debates that, but that’s largely because the most talented young journalist around here — that’s Ramey — is like my younger brother plus Ramey gets affected by my hoops smack-talk in our pickup games. Don’t sleep on Patrick Brown; like Grant, his talent is immense and his disposition is better than mine. He ferociously blocked my shot two weeks ago at MC,as well. The cardio and competition are good while I attempt to get some constantly elevating readings somewhat under control.
I still enjoy writing, the relationships and telling stories — especially the good stories that focus on difference-makers here in this area, Rocky Top, for now — guys like Cameron Sutton, Joshua Dobbs, Eric Berry, Tim Miller, Dustin Colquitt, George Quarles, Dr. Joe Scogin and so many more — while understanding breaking news is sometimes good, sometimes neutral and sometimes unpleasant. What it should never be is one-sided, character assassination without an attempt for comment from all parties. Journalism has a duty to the public and, equally important, to ourselves. The current landscape is ugly and getting uglier.
I probably won’t attempt to break as much news in this space as I have in others, nor will I update it necessarily every day or every week. Topics will be varied; discussion will be encouraged. I will say I don’t understand what seems to be the elimination of David Blackburn as a serious candidate for UT’s A.D. job, nor did I understand the infatuation with the potential of Phillip Fulmer in that role. Fulmer as someone’s #2? Sure. As Blackburn’s #2? That would deserve a John Ward voice-over.
Alas, all to whom I’ve spoken insist it is Danny Morrison, most recently of the Carolina Panthers, as the trendy, it candidate while some folks are adamant new UT Chancellor Beverly Davenport strongly wishes to bring aboard Mike Bohn, who’s been fired from Colorado, just fired his football coach and saw his top-20 men’s basketball team lose to a middling UFC team this past weekend. Oh, and according to a published report in the highly regarded Cincinnati Enquirer, Bearcats’ athletics loses an average of $20 million per year — Bearcats bleed red ink — and has only a mildly larger budget than that of Chattanooga, where Blackburn has three-straight years of record-setting fund-raising, trimming operating expenses and increasing the budget. John Currie’s name is percolating a good bit, and he just was in Knoxville as, per a direct source, “a last-minute decision” for the Vols-Kansas State hoops game.
But hey, I’m a free-agent sportswriter — and pardon me here, but lucky as hell to be in this position. So what do I know? Oh, I do know multiple doctors and donors who have told me an outside hire would be a blessing to them — because they can save their money rather than donate to a tone-deaf Tennessee.
Word is Blackburn won’t get a second “finalist” interview, even after Turnkey spent money to fly candidates to New York City. If that’s not my FOI request, I hope it’s someone’s. The most loyal fans I’ve seen in the SEC — I’ve been to every venue, covered every single UT football game since the onset of the 2002 season — deserve to know who and how their money is being spent.
Mostly, I am grateful to my wife, Jessica, our growing faith and the remarkable support system of friends we’ve long known, those we more recently have met and so, so many of you who have reached out via Twitter (@JohnDBrice1) and otherwise. It is, at minimum, humbling and touching. Mostly, it is undeserved. I’ve been blessed & fortunate to be a glorified entertainment reporter on multiple platforms for a long time; I never, ever wanted it to be who I was but merely what I did.
I need to be a better Christian, husband, friend, son, sibling, nephew, uncle and more. Maybe, maybe even a parent. A long, long volume of life mostly is closing, but it doesn’t mean better, greater life adventures are not ahead for my little family.
I inadvertently will leave out some important folks here in this brief thank-you section, a good many of them probably, but nonetheless while I apologize in advance for another mistake I want to attempt to feebly express a gratitude that far transcends mere words: Jessica, James, Brandon, Brad Fox, Brad Lampley — and his entire, amazing, inspiring family, Tucker, Mr. O, PQ, Mayor Fox, Mayor Haley, TNMAVOL, LWSVOL, T-Baz, J-Swain, Tim Miller, Tom Satkowiak, Barry, Link, Sam, Tom, Erik, The Pole & the stupendously talented VFL Films boys who allowed a football nerd like myself to be on their coaches’ shows the past five years; C-Pink; JG; Jace Greene, Richard Roberts, Sunshine, The Brothers Lowe, my homey and mentor C-Low, Leonard Butts, Justin Cress, Sean Sinclair, Kevin & Nate Jackman, David Allen, Peggy Bratt, Kenny Cobble, J-Hicks, Sonic, Lesli, The Most Known Unknown, Doc H, Double-S, Brim Seth Hughes, Popcorn, Toye Story, The Beast, The Hubber — who just made a heck of a hire in Jesse Re Simonton, AP (he’s been a good friend & very worried about my health), Darren Headrick, JP, JY, BP, CS, JS, CashVol, KD4UT, CPAVol, WarriorsBaseball, JBeare, MoBriceLessWes, Matthew Layne, Matt Magill, Memphis Mitch, The Wizard, Kirbs, Big Al Hawk, Kenny Kerr, bowtie, Kyle, Reid, Ezell, Ash, NYC Vol, Keally, C-Pap, A-Ward, Gentry Estes (so talented, so much wisdom, such a great husband & father), Gribs, B-Squared, Heath, Lentzy, AT, P3 & fam; Coaches Early, Thackston, Anderson, Priest and Kesling, plus Tom Hart, Cole Cubelic.
Particularly grateful for my legal counsel since I resigned in late-January and navigated this process; those are the people whom I never can thank enough, and I particularly appreciate Mr. Bill Penny and M. Clark Spoden — two of the best in the business.
I am grateful to Ryan Callahan and Wes Rucker for tolerating me the past few months, and working really hard alongside me. I love Stephen Kenney’s passion for photography; I love him as the older brother I’ve never had even more. His photo galleries this past football season ranked among the most-view items anywhere on our site; he just keeps getting better as a photog while being an amazing father and husband.
I’m not disappearing; I’ve still got Sundays on The Nation (statewide syndication, iheart radio and http://www.sportsradiownml.com) plus Thursdays with the classiest, best radio dude I know in Brent Dougherty and the top-notch 3HL crew of Blaine, Mickey and my dog JT.
Thanks for indulging me; supporting me; sustaining me.
Now, well, the view’s a little different. I think I’m going to like it.