Marcus Fitzsimmons

Twas the night before Christmas.

And this year I’ll spare you, our dear readers, from my mangling of any Christmas carols that’s been likened most recently to both cousin Eddie showing up at the Griswold’s in “Christmas Vacation” and “would rather shoot myself in the eye with a Red Rider BB gun on Christmas Day than suffer what you do to Christmas classics.”

So I’ll restrain myself (this year) from butchering any timeless holiday refrains. Instead, I convinced a friend at an undisclosed agency with an alphabet soup acronym to do some digging into the Naughty and Nice list. He put me on hold for 10 minutes Monday night to finish something he called “playing Ping Jong” then delivered some nuggets on what might be showing up under some trees later tonight.

LUMP OF: UT athletic director Dave Hart may be unwrapping a growing problem with an emboldened Orange ‘T’ trimmed in baby blue. Credit or despise his other decisions, Hart’s gone where few would dare, moving to roll most of Tennessee’s men’s and women’s teams under the “Vol” moniker.

The reaction has, quite predictably, not been a bowl full of cherries.

Can’t blame the supporters wanting to keep Lady Vols on all the women’s teams. Quite frankly, the women’s teams issues are game suspensions for missing a class with a level of consistent athletic success. Why would they want to be put under the Vols brand? Good intentions and best laid plans aside, it’s stepping back a level in the expectations department. Maybe when the men’s teams meet the graduation and success rates the Lady Vols have set, they can talk about it.

Until then, that’s one big lump of coal that’s likely to start burning right under the administrator’s seat.

NAUGHTY: After everything Tiger High did right this year, the University of Memphis football team’s first 10-win season since FDR’s second term got marred by the postgame brawl.

It may not be who the Tigers are. It certainly doesn’t stick with BYU’s reputation either. But watch the film and there’s not only punches thrown but kicks aimed at players on the ground and cheap shots galore.

Santa and certainly the universities are likely to be understanding. If the NCAA did what it’s designed to do, there’d be a bowl ban in place on both next season, but those folks haven’t done so hot on compiling their lists lately.

GOOD TIDINGS: It’s a mixed bag to be saying goodbye to part of The Daily Times staff, but we head into the final week for two valued contributors to the sports section. Robert Holder has been one of the key behind-the-scenes portions of the section, cramming all these words into shapely holes and cleaning up the odds and ends we forget about before we leave for the games most nights. He’ll be heading for a similar job with the folks across the river.

Bradley Stringfield has been with us just over 100 days, splitting his time between reporting and that same bit of laying out and refining the pages you receive each day in the B section. We thought he was doing pretty well but apparently so did the folks down around his hometown, so he’s off to take over as sports editor at the Roane News.

While we wish them good tidings, it would help the sports editor find some joy if he hadn’t already sent his list to Santa. I may not have been high on the Nice list but having two replacements arrive wrapped with a bow tomorrow morning would make the new year look a bit brighter.

So Merry Christmas, dear readers. Have a happy New Year. And if you’re in that last minute pinch, this section recycles nicely as wrapping paper or gift bag filler.

Marcus Fitzsimmons is sports editor at The Daily Times. Follow @TDT_Sports on Twitter.

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