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Mark Wiedmer

Stories by Mark

LEXINGTON, Ky. — John Calipari wrote the words on the white board inside the Kentucky locker room just prior to the No. 18 Wildcats' home game against No. 6 and defending national champion Louisville on Saturday.

In jolly ol' England, they call today "Boxing Day." But in this country we revere Dec. 26 as Return Day, that morning after when we gather the peculiar gifts our friends and relatives found much more appealing for us than we thought them to be.

Faith Morgan pointed to the left front corner of the Chattanooga Community Kitchen cafeteria, her voice filled with emotion, the five-year-old memories of her life as one of the city's homeless both tormenting and touching.

If we were all the kind of husbands, fathers and sons we need to be, we would have been somewhere besides our sofas watching the next-to-last weekend of the National Football League's regular season on Sunday afternoon.

After knocking off the nation's No. 1 wrestler in his 133-pound weight class on Friday night, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga junior wrestler Nick Soto had every reason to celebrate his individual win over Stanford's Ryan Mango.

KNOXVILLE — Jeronne Maymon never worried that he and his Tennessee men's basketball teammates would play a better second half than they had the first against North Carolina State on Wednesday night.

If only the Tennessee Titans and Atlanta Falcons could merge. Maybe take that $1.2 billion the Falcons are frivolously spending on that shiny new stadium they're planning to build right next to the still-wonderful Georgia Dome and shift it a couple of hours north to Chattanooga.

NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Titans' 37-34 overtime loss to Arizona mere minutes old, the team's new president and CEO, Tommy Smith, approached receiver Nate Washington inside the Titans' LP Field locker room.

As is printed elsewhere in this newspaper, I voted Florida State redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston No. 1 on my Heisman Trophy ballot.

For all those Texas Longhorn fans who believe a coaching change will automatically return them to college football's elite, two words: Rich Rodriguez.

Tuesday night at the University of Florida's O'Connell Center produced the kind of college basketball game that terrifically teases the senses for March Madness.

In the summer of 1972, while working out prior to that night's game with the Asheville Orioles of the Southern League, third baseman Doug DeCinces heard a gunshot, then another, and another, all of them landing within six feet of him at Asheville's ball yard.

Twenty-eight days. Four weeks. That's the window of time that will pass between today and Auburn taking the Rose Bowl field against top-ranked Florida State in the the BCS title game on Jan. 6, 2014.

ATLANTA — Gus Malzahn said it. Said it after victory most sweet. And improbable. And unbelievable.

ATLANTA — Eight days ago, Frank Sanders couldn't watch it anymore. The former Auburn All-America wideout left his alma mater's Jordan-Hare Stadium late in the third quarter of last week's game against Alabama and drove his car toward Birmingham.

ATLANTA — Auburn coach Gus Malzahn swears that while the rest of War Eagle Nation loudly celebrated last Saturday evening's stunning win over archrival Alabama, he hunkered down in his office to begin watching tape of Missouri, this afternoon's opponent in the Southeastern Conference championship game.

Just exactly what Florida state attorney Willie Meggs will announce at 2 p.m. today regarding his office's investigation into sexual assault allegations against Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston remains a mystery.

To paraphrase that early Bowl Championship Series supporter Billy Shakespeare, could there be the slightest chance that we all doth protest too much regarding the BCS process?

ATHENS, Ga. — The next time someone tells you they don't play quality basketball in the Southeastern Conference, remind them that while No. 18 UCLA did indeed lead the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga by 22 points at halftime last week, Georgia led the Mocs by 30 at Monday night's intermission.

Quite contrary to the Great Gatsby, we have apparently come to believe quite strongly in this country that even moderately good ideas always demand a second act -- or three or five in the cases of such cinematic excesses as the endless sequels to "Toy Story" and "Friday the 13th."

LEXINGTON, Ky. — It hit Daniel Hood from nowhere. Like a chop block or a clip.

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Proudly clad in Tennessee orange, Alee Lynch Gunderson and her husband Mike decided many months ago to attend Saturday’s football game at Kentucky.

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Three coaches in five years. Four straight losing seasons. No bowl games the last three autumns.

"Are you for Alabama or Auburn?"

In case you needed a reminder that the National Football League is a business, consider that the Tennessee Titans waived offensive lineman Kevin Matthews on Tuesday.

Four or five weeks ago, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football season still very much a work in progress, Mocs coach Russ Huesman made an interesting observation.

KNOXVILLE — When it comes to whom the Big Orange Nation views as Public Enemy No. 1 for its struggling football program, former Tennessee coaches Lane Kiffin and Derek Dooley and former athletic director Mike Hamilton now have some company.

KNOXVILLE — The Neyland Stadium press-box seating chart almost always includes multiple bowl representatives, especially in late November.

KNOXVILLE — It's unlikely Joseph Ayres will ever have even the vaguest recollection of his first trip to Neyland Stadium to watch a University of Tennessee football game.

RINGGOLD, Ga. -- When you own the record for most major league postseason pitching wins with 19, there are a lot of great moments to reflect on. But Andy Pettitte is asked most often about his first World Series victory back in 1996 against the Atlanta Braves.

Due to their long history of mutual contempt and loathing, it's probably unreasonable to expect Alabama football fans to celebrate Auburn's miracle victory over Georgia on Saturday evening.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Ka-boing! That's the sickening sound a football makes when it hits the hollow metal left upright of a goal post. It's also the sound of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team's dream season imploding before the Mocs' eyes and ears Saturday evening at Samford's Siebert Stadium.

KNOXVILLE — An hour later, University of Tennessee Lady Vols point guard Ariel Massengale could laugh it off.

"How about those ..."

Until a little less than four years ago, Jason and Bronde Greer's life could have been a Norman Rockwell painting, as perfectly Americana as Thanksgiving, swim meets and the toy fire engine in the driveway all rolled into one.

Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari caused quite a stir last week when he said "it's unfair" that his latest collection of one-and-done momentary students — who are ranked No. 1, by the way — face the second-ranked, grizzled veterans from Michigan State in the opening game of tonight's State Farm Classic.

NASHVILLE — Tennessee reserve quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said what 69,143 Titans fans were surely thinking as they angrily exited LP Field Sunday afternoon:

KNOXVILLE — Dressed head to toe in Tennessee orange, the woman climbed aboard a Neyland Stadium elevator near the close of her favorite football team's 55-23 loss to Auburn on Saturday afternoon.

It couldn't last forever Friday night. At some point, Covenant College was going to score a point on Will Wade's first University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's basketball team.

About 30 minutes before tonight's 7 o'clock kickoff, Baylor School senior Alex Armstrong will slip on his broadcast headphones inside the Heywood Stadium press box and tell anyone tuned into WFLI 1070 AM or the school's web viewers:

Ask Johnny Henderson about Russ Huesman, and a 33-year-old memory instantly springs to life.

KNOXVILLE — Butch Jones hit the same talking points he has all season Monday.

Almost anyone who's ever coached an organized athletic team has probably been where University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football coach Russ Huesman found himself Saturday evening. Whether it's T-ball, a high school sorority championship basketball game (trust me on this) or the Super Bowl, you become certain you're on the edge of experiencing something that seems too good to be true.

KNOXVILLE — The moment that much of the Big Orange Nation had waited more than a year to see ­­­— or at least that loyal portion that gives the slightest thought to college basketball in November — arrived with 18:50 to play in Saturday’s second half.

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team may indeed be 6-2 for the first time since 1997. Win at Appalachian State for the first time since 1983 this Saturday afternoon and the Mocs will improve to 7-2 for the first time since 1980, when UTC coach Russ Huesman was still a player.

My 7-year-old daughter Ella Beth calls them her "birthday team."

KNOXVILLE -- After four Southeastern Conference football games a year ago, the Tennessee Volunteers stood 0-4 in league play, having been outscored by a total of 65 points. After four SEC games this season, UT is 1-3, its scoring deficit in those contests 50 points to the bad.

According to an ABC News/Washington Post poll conducted a little more than a week ago, 89 percent of the American public disapproves of the job Congress is doing.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — There isn't much that's perfect in life. Mona Lisa's smile. Rhapsody in Blue. Hellman's mayonnaise.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The numbers on the stat sheet were anything but what the Tennessee defense wanted to see Saturday evening. Especially after last week's win against South Carolina, which included holding the Gamecocks to 15 total yards in the final period.

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