Saturday, June 15, 2024

If you could have lunch with any Tennessee sports celebrity, whom would you pick? | Adams

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Tennessee fans are always trying to get closer to their favorite program. They show up for all things Vol.

But what if they could have lunch with anyone associated with Tennessee sports – past or present. Whom would they choose?

I asked my literary contributors. Here’s how they responded:

Marie writes: Tony Vitello. You have to ask why? 

My response: Why? Because he drives a good-looking car?

Vols Mark writes: I would like to sit down with Danny White, Tennessee’s athletic director. His role gives him a lot of sway in shaping sports at the university. He doesn’t just handle individual teams; he’s in charge of where the department is headed, how money gets spent, and making sure everything runs smoothly.

Having lunch with him would be a great chance to hear about his plans for Tennessee sports, understand his challenges, and learn how he aims to improve the teams.

It’s not just about sports management; it’s also about how athletics affects the whole university community.  

My response:  White hasn’t been in Knoxville long but already has proved to be one of UT’s best athletic directors. He has hired a winning football coach in Josh Heupel and seemingly has provided all coaches the resources they need to be successful.

UT also is making money on his watch even though it has incurred unexpected expenses in the past couple of years – such as the destruction of Neyland Stadium goal posts after a 2022 victory over Alabama.

Bill writes: I’d hate to pick between Donde Plowman and Josh Heupel, but I think Donde because she has more cross-discipline impact (all sports, academics, donors, etc.).

My response: Plowman might be the most popular administrator in UT history for how she handled alleged football coach Jeremy Pruitt as well as the NCAA.

Some sports columnist even suggested UT needs to build a Donde Plowman statue.

David writes: That’s easy – first is Donde Plowman. Honorable mention is Randy Boyd.  Donde is a pure-gold asset and we are lucky to have her.  Would like to learn more about what made her the person she is. Would be wonderful to use that knowledge of her to have influence on my  two granddaughters. 

Randy would be great as well – especially if I was 40 years younger.  Listen to learn his business and philosophy principles, and – as a young man – hope some rubbed off on me. 

My response: It’s never too old to succeed in business. My mother-in-law started making felt rabbits in human costumes at the age of 80. She can’t make them fast enough for her buyers.

Colorado Mark writes: Other than maybe Curt Watson, nobody. I would rather have lunch at the Ajax with you and Topp and Sparks, I need to laugh more, especially these days. oh and bring Laura, she cracks me up. I would have said the Hollywood, but sadly, I heard it is gone, will miss those fried pickles. 

My response: I have a better idea. Let’s meet for lunch at Bird & Jim restaurant in Estes Park, Colorado. Blake and Adam won’t be there, but we can text them photos of our entrees.

James writes: I don’t get much of a lunch break and prefer not to talk to anyone during that brief time – furthermore I generally despise all celebrities on a personal level and really have no interest in meeting with them (and that includes athletes, coaches, and administrators).  The only exception I would make would be Lane Kiffin if he ends up back here as I want the details on that wreck he had off Northshore Drive.

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My response: I’ve noticed a strong backlash building against celebrity culture. Based on your email, you might be leading the movement. If so, I applaud that. I love it when my literary contributors get involved in social issues.

But I bet you would change your mind if you had a chance to have lunch with Taylor Swift.

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or Follow him at:

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