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Mark Wiedmer

Stories by Mark

Tracy Bleil doesn't remember exactly when she was told that she would be inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Sports Hall of Fame tonight at the Convention Center.

KNOXVILLE AND — Twenty seconds into Tennessee's rout of Vanderbilt on Saturday afternoon, Big Orange guard Antonio Barton swished a 3-pointer off the right side to give the Volunteers a 3-0 advantage that would become a 76-38 win.

When I grow old(er) I want to be just like John Disterdick. I want to have his energy and enthusiasm. I want his determination and dilligence. I really want his medals, ribbons and trophies.

For the first time in three decades, Buddy Nix wasn't on site to watch the close of the NFL combine Tuesday in Indianapolis. He instead viewed it from his Ooltewah home, content that endless television coverage and the detailed data he received each evening would suffice.

Vicky Hood didn't always imagine her son Rodney starring for the Duke Blue Devils. There was a time when the family was completely focused on the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's Mocs.

Some college basketball coaches almost never seem to get a bad break.

Having just claimed the pole for today's Daytona 500, Austin Dillon could have passed on his earlier commitment to run a dirt track race last Sunday at nearby Volusia Speedway Park.

They took up the entire lower north end zone of McKenzie Arena on Thursday night, 98 sixth-graders from Christ Presbyterian Academy in Nashville, all of them cheering their young lungs out for CPA alum and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga senior forward Zaccheus Mason against Georgia Southern.

ATLANTA — The firsts were everywhere in the hours and minutes before fifth-ranked Duke hit Georgia Tech's sparkling McCamish Pavilion basketball court.

A week ago tonight, his Volunteers having just lost to visiting Florida, Tennessee basketball coach Cuonzo Martin said of the Gators, "Probably the best Florida team since I've been here. As a team, I would put them ... similar to the Kentucky team with Anthony Davis."

If you allow yourself to ignore the oppressive government that drew these Winter Olympics to Sochi...and the anti-gay mandates of Vladimir Putin,the former KGB officer turned Russian president ... and the mirage that is a happy, prosperous Sochi rather than the impoverished, repressed community that's been temporarily hidden from the rest of the world, well, it's been a pretty good Games so far.

The Southeastern Conference better hope that those folks picking four teams for the new college football playoff will view the SEC far more favorably than those selecting the 68 schools for the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

Will Wade didn't wait long to discuss the days leading up to his University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Mocs' 83-73 victory over Western Carolina on Friday night.

Try not to hate Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Cory Gearrin too much as you attempt to scrape the snow and ice from your car windshield this morning. It's not his fault he's, um, bravely adjusting to the 70-degree temperatures of Orlando, Fla., instead of shoveling the white stuff from his family's Rhea County driveway.

KNOXVILLE — It was the kind of hustle play that possibly could save a season. It certainly helped save Tennessee during its frantic first half against No. 3 Florida on Tuesday night.

Despite winning both an NCAA and an NIT championship, reaching the Final Four on two other occasions and winning 487 games in less than 23 full seasons as a head coach, San Diego State's Steve Fisher is yet to reach college basketball's Hall of Fame.

The shove heard 'round the college basketball world.

KNOXVILLE — Will the real Tennessee men's basketball team please stand up? And for more than one or two games at a time?

NASHVILLE — On the back of Vanderbilt's warm-up shirts as they prepared to face visiting Tennessee Wednesday night were printed two words: Our State.

Congratulations, 2014 national signing day class.

His aptly named Shockers having just fallen by four frustrating points to eventual national champion Louisville in last spring's NCAA semifinals inside the Georgia Dome, Wichita State basketball coach Gregg Marshall looked not backward but forward.

So much for fairytale finishes. And karmic comebacks. And Peyton performing as perfectly in his final game of the 2013 NFL season as he had for most of the 18 contests that came before it.

Aon Miller and his wife Amanda left Chattanooga on Saturday morning for New York City. They'll attend the Super Bowl this evening, rooting hard for their good friend Peyton Manning to win his second Super Bowl ring, his first with the Denver Broncos.

If you were a University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's basketball fan the last couple of days, you couldn't help but wonder. Was Thursday night's 94-51 loss at Davidson one bad night or one very bad sign? Was the momentum from the Mocs' eight Southern Conference victories in their first eight league games now lost for good? Or did it merely need a reboot come Saturday night against fragile Furman?

KNOXVILLE — Steven Pearl has heard the scenario more than once. Much more.

A few days ago a dear friend invited Rayburn and Bonita Traughber to a Super Bowl party. They politely declined.

The script is becoming familiar. Syracuse looks good early. Falls behind in second half. Rallies at the finish to win. Again. And again.

If anyone working within a 70-foot Gee McGhee buzzer-beater of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga deserves a thank-you note this morning, it's UTC athletic director David Blackburn.

Let's pick up the Jim Foster story more than 30 years ago. Not at the beginning of his college coaching career, which started at St. Joseph's in 1978, because neither Jim nor his wife, Donna, can remember the first of his remarkable 800 wins.

The last time we checked, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's school colors were blue and gold.

Apparently $26 million doesn't last as long as it once did. At least it hasn't with former Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young.

The practice of Bracketology just got a whole lot more crowded.

LEXINGTON, Ky. — The big goal lasted three games. That's when Kentucky's very public discussion of a 40-0 college basketball season ended, a veteran Michigan State bunch delivering Big Blue its first loss on Nov. 12. Baylor added to that total 24 days later. Then North Carolina delivered another "L" eight days after that.

Maybe Peyton Manning didn't invent the quarterback position. But that doesn't mean he hasn't perfected it. Especially if his Denver Broncos go on to win the Super Bowl on Feb. 2 in New York City.

LEXINGTON. Ky. -- The late Tennessee basketball coach Ray Mears once said of a particularly frustrating player, "He's just good enough to get you beat."

Cory Gearrin was visiting his family's Rhea County home earlier this week when the phone rang. A friend of a friend of a friend needed a special favor from the Atlanta Braves relief pitcher.

Andy Kelly remembers the old days, before the NCAA even pretended to care about its athletes.

Nobody beats the Wiz.

It may go down as the best nonconference game played this whole basketball season. But after watching Arizona strut into his Crisler Center in mid-December and waltz out with a 72-70 win, Michigan coach John Beilein spent most of his postgame news conference discussing the victorious Wildcats.

With apologies to any spouse who wants his or her NFL-addicted other half to get off the couch between 3 and 10 p.m. this Sunday, this is one time to forgive. Better yet, join the fun.

NASHVILLE — They arrived at Vanderbilt's McGugin Center with the rising sun Saturday morning, almost all of them clad in Commodores black and gold, their singular mission to show unwavering support for Commodores football. If they could somehow convince coach James Franklin not to leave for Penn State, all the better.

NASHVILLE — It had been the toughest of weeks for the Vanderbilt athletic family long before No. 14 Kentucky's Big Blue Nation took over nearly half of the Commodores' once magical Memorial Gym for Saturday afternoon's Southeastern Conference basketball game.

Rico White's mother texted University of Tennessee at Chattanooga basketball coach Will Wade a couple of days ago, discussing her son's health.

Vanderbilt football coach James Franklin's location Monday was clear for all to see. He was in Pasadena, Calif., participating in ESPN's coverage of the final BCS title game.

While much of the country has become enchanted with "Duck Dynasty," Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino has been in a fowl mood over a slightly different kind of dynasty.

Anyone looking for an omen that Auburn will win tonight's BCS title game against Florida State tonight need only look outside this morning.

Friends don't let friends take down their careers.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — With Vanderbilt's 41-24 BBVA Compass Bowl win over Houston complete Saturday afternoon, VU athletic director David Williams was in no mood to speculate on whether Commodores coach James Franklin might be headed out the door to a bigger stage.

The way Cornell wrestling coach Rob Koll sees it, there is no longer much choice to be made between attending the Midlands Championships in Chicago or the Southern Scuffle at McKenzie Arena.

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