Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Big Orange Influence

For sports fans, everyone wants their team to win and be the best. We bleed our school colors, go into a mild state of depression after a loss, and have the fight song for a ringtone. As a part of the Vol Nation, our love of the Vols runs much deeper than that. Sure I wear orange on gameday, have a Power T coffee mug and a flag hanging from my balcony, but some fans will do anything to show that they want nothing but W's from the Vols. And when I say anything, I mean anything.

It all started back in 2008...when the curse of the "Come & Go" coach began. 

Although he brought us a National Championship back in 1998 and the 2nd-highest number of W's of any head coach in UT history, Phillip Fulmer (the legend) brought on a downward slope of Tennessee victories starting in 2005 with a 5-6 losing season. Scrutiny from the Vol Nation began to slip in over the next three years as fans began to question Fulmer's ability to keep the Vols on top. After suffering a loss to Wyoming to close the 2008 season, Fulmer "stepped down" as leader of the big orange pack after being notified by athletic director Mike Hamilton of his immediate dismissal.

Without any coaching changes or signs of improvement over several years, Fulmer just needed that spark to make changes within the program and get things back to like they were in '98. After wearing out their patience and acceptance of L's, the Vol Nation demanded the removal of a Tennessee legend and him be replaced by this a#$&@!%...

The arrogant, smug, "too big for his 'britches," recently-fired man known as Lane Kiffin came to Knoxville. Sure he seemed like a great fix for UT, "yeah he just came from the NFL and he's good lookin', he'll get us back to No. 1." Little did we know the real "big orange screw" was waiting for us at the end of the season. After increasing the Vols offensive output by 60% and ending the 2009 season 7-6, that can only overshadow the bad for so long. Personally, I strongly dislike Kiffin because he got our recruit hostess program in a TON of trouble (I am a recruit hostess now). SO after 14 months, Kiffin bailed out on the Vols, not even spending 2 minutes in the press conference to answer questions out of respect. Although people were mad and disappointed, Lane Kiffin leaving Rocky Top was the BEST thing to ever happen! Karma caught up with Lane when he was caught for extensive NCAA recruiting violations at USC, and then fired from USC when the athletic director wouldn't even let him on the team bus after a game. The Vol Nation simply said "screw you Lane, on to the next one."

The administration waisted no time in filling our beloved head coach position, with the hiring of the lawyer turned coach...Derek Dooley. Sure Dooley inherited a sunken program and was constantly having to fight the uphill battle to regain the top spot in the SEC. What Tennessee fans soon realized was that the only anchor that was keeping this program "sank" was Dooley himself. The only "coaching" aspect this man had going for him was his last name, the one that belongs to the great hall of fame coach Vince Dooley. I'm not a Tennessee football player but from working for him for one season as a recruit hostess, I knew that he was not a "coach" in the sense that he was there for the glory and not to build up young men and a strong-football-tradition Tennessee program. After 3 losing seasons in a row and only 1 bowl game appearance, the Vol Nation rose again to express their frustration, scrutiny and demand for the firing of Derek Dooley. So, so long to the orange pants and suave hair, and have fun being a low-paid, low-grade assistant coach.

After what seemed like forever of searching for a new leader, UT found this flat top hairdo up North...
Our savior...BUTCH. JONES.

I speak from knowing him personally when I say that Coach Jones is the man that will bring UT back to national prominence of being that team to beat. His passion for the game, the men he coaches, and the tradition that is Tennessee football is just what the Vol Nation has been praying for. In the year that has been on Rocky Top, Coach Jones has brought the spirit of Tennessee and what it means to be a Volunteer fan back to us. He truly cares about the players in helping them grow as athletes, educated men and valuable members of society. I see a bright (with orange hue) future for Coach Jones as he leads to Vol Nation back to the national glory that we once knew.

Okay, we can see that the Big Orange community strongly influenced the firing of two football coaches. Now lets take a look at the most recent coaching uproar that is Tennessee Mens basketball:

Bruce Pearl, the Boston-native with a set of lungs on him, came to the Univeristy of Tennessee in 2005 after the "retirement" of Buzz Peterson. He became the 2nd fastest coach to reach 100 wins in UT history, took the Big Orange to our first Elite 8 appearance in the NCCAA tournament in 2010, and brought on a NCCAA recruiting scandal of epic proportions. He rocked an orange blazer at every home game, interracted with fans regularly, and brought a sense of "swagger" to Tennessee basketball. After committing the recruiting infraction and lying about it, UT could not be associated with a lying head coach, even if he was winning games and bringing spirit to men's basketball. Pearl stayed away from coaching for 3 years and was just recently hired to be Auburn's next head basketball coach.

And then, UT hired a man whose first name no one knew how to pronounce. Cuonzo Martin had a decent basketball past, from playing in the NBA for 3 years to being a head coach for 3 years. He didn't have the resume we were hoping for to bring us back to "Pearl Prominence" but the Vol Nation figured we'd give this guy a shot. I like Coach Martin, he is a very very nice man to talk to and the players loved him. But in true UT fashion, the fans don't want "nice." They want W's and trophies. During the middle of this past season, a petition began floating around web for the immediate release of Coach Martin and to bring back Bruce Pearl! Like WHAT? Who would have ever thought we would fire a coach, then turn around and re-hire him 3 years later?? The petition received over 36,000 signatures, a pretty good slap in the face to Coach Martin. After all of this petition buzz died down, it was released that Coach Martin had received a head coach offer from Marquette. Martin turned it down casually...but that announcement was made on April Fool's.

On Tuesday April 15, Coach Cuonzo Martin of the Tennessee Volunteers became Coach Cuonzo Martin of the California Golden Bears. The Vol Nation's demands to have Martin fired came back and slapped us in the face, by leaving on his own after I swore that "Tennessee was the only place for him." As much as I hate to admit it, Coach Martin finally put Vol fans in their place. Although he's leaving for a >12,000 arena and the state of California in general, I wish him success and happiness.

So what have we learned from this?

Not only are Volunteer fans "ride or die" for the big orange, but large fanbases such as ours can even have an influence on the future of our coaches. Fulmer, Dooley and Martin, all examples of our a nation of fans can express disappointment or hatred of a coach's performance and next thing you know BOOM...he gone. Sports is always a game of out with the old and in with the new but if the new has a losing season at Tennessee, his tenure for the Big Orange might end being short lived.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Cap Craziness

As graduation is fast approaching (ohh in 23 days), and one tradition I plan to take full advantage of is decorating my graduation cap. Not only do people decorate their caps so their family can find them in the see of grads but to also throw a little bit of a personal touch on the clothing you worked so hard to earn the past 4 years. Monograms, degree names, "Hire Me" caps will fill the crowd as we walk into Thompson-Boling on that exciting day. So in the spirit of graduation season, here are some ideas for designing your truly unique cap:

Use an insprirational quote or phrase has helped you get through the last four years.

Thank the people who not only gave you life but gave you the money 
to not only get a college degree but have the best 4 years of your life.

Pay tribute to your new alma mater that 
will always be your "home sweet home"

Let the world know what sorority you were a part of,
like everyone that follows you on social media doesn't know already.

The ultimate girl combination: monogram,
pearls, sorority letters & Lilly Pulitzer OH MY!

So whether you use your initials, superhero logo, tribal print, favorite team, sequins, or "I just gradiated"....HAPPY CAP DECORATING & HAPPY GRADUATION Y'ALL

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Pinterest Effect

One does not simply check Pinterest "real quick." As soon as you access your account, you are instantly whisked away to a world of repurposed mason jars, outfits you wish you owned, recipes that look to good to be real, wedding day inspirations and Ryan Gosling. And hundreds of pins later, two hours of your life is now gone. This is a phenomenon that I like to call "The Pinterest Effect."

I have fallen under the Pinterest spell more times than I can count. If I can't decide what I'm wearing for a night out with friends, I go to "Women's Fashion" for outfit inspirations. I needed a recipe of something delicious (and easy) for a Super Bowl party I was going to, my first resource was Pinterest. I am a bridesmaid for my best friend Finley this November, her wedding now has its own board on my page where I spent over an hour yesterday pinning random wedding ideas. I have pinned so many things since first getting my account back in '11 that I am beginning to suffer from "pin-nesia" (where you forget if you have pinned something already or not). I can pull up my Pinterest account in the first minutes of class, and then the next thing I know the teacher is dismissing us. I think I speak for every "pin obsessor" when I say that the "Pinterest Effect" is very real.

You're probably asking, why do these girls get so caught up in a website full of pictures? What is the big deal? From my point of view, pinners are transported into another world where they secretly wish they could have/make everything they're seeing. I'm not saying every pinner is unhappy with their life but Pinterest gives us that peak into what we wish we could have. I wish all of the outfits on my style board would magicly land in my closet or my apartment would redecorate itself to look like my home board or even the picturesque recipes I drool over would make themselves.

What is mind-blowing to me is how much we depend on Pinterest today. If I need a craft idea, I automatically go to Pinterest with no questions asked. Back in the day, people had to actually be creative and come up with the genius ideas that overflow on Pinterest such as making a mason jar into a candle or "Elf on the Shelf" scenarios for the kids. It's less-time consuming than real artistry, but still far less convenient than ordering the dern thing on Amazon. The other cultural shift behind the rise of DIY is the decline of the value of expertise. To become a great knitter, it would take hundreds of hours of practice. But in the Pinterest world, expertise is no longer valued in quite the same way. Why knit a beer koozie when you can make one out of an old sock?

After all of the combined hours I have spent looking through Pinterest and disappointment when my creations don't look like the pin, I am still an obsessor of this website. Pinterest is like Etsy and Pottery Barn had a baby and made a scrapbook of their cute little family (now re-pin that).

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