I’m starting to sleep better — partially because I’m feeling better physically.
Yes, the small steps I’ve already taken to get healthier are starting to pay off. But my ability to sleep again has more to do with my alma mater, the University of Tennessee, hiring a football coach Friday.
Time will tell whether Butch Jones will return the Vols to their past glory, but for now he has a clean slate.
Tennessee wasn’t the only Southeastern Conference team seeking a new coach these last few weeks. Arkansas, Auburn and Kentucky also had fired their coaches and sought the right fit for their school.
Football fans have watched things unfold as Arkansas got former Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema, Auburn named Gus Malzahn the new coach, Kentucky, Mark Stoops and Tennessee finished off a frantic few weeks with Jones.
We might be in Okaloosa County, Florida, but the Southeastern Conference’s reach and appeal stretches far beyond our county’s borders.
If you drive through a parking lot at any large retailer, you will probably see cars with bumper stickers, decals or license plates that proclaim an association with any or all of the four schools listed above.
And don’t think fans of the four schools were the only ones watching the searches unfold.
Alabama fans wanted to see who would fill vacancies at Auburn and Tennessee, the Crimson Tide’s two biggest rivals.
Early last week, I received an email from Crestview principal Bob Jones, a former Kentucky football player. While the email focused on another issue, he also asked how the coaching search at Tennessee was going.
Butch Jones reportedly declined offers from Kentucky, Purdue and Colorado, hoping Tennessee would fall into his lap. His patience paid off when the Volunteers came calling following two or three other coaches’ rejections.
I didn’t watch the press conferences introducing Bielema, Malzahn or Stoops, but I watched the Tennessee press conference introducing Butch Jones as the new man dedicated to lead the Vols. Jones said all the right things about winning in the classroom and on the field. He spoke of winning both conference and national championships.
I’m sure the other coaches said similar things as they embraced the challenge of SEC coaching and the big checks that go with it.
While Alabama fans count down the days until the Tide plays Notre Dame for the National Championship early next month, and other fans from across the SEC look forward to a bowl game, Arkansas, Auburn, Kentucky and Tennessee fans await the spring for more football.
We will follow the hiring of assistant coaches and the recruiting of new and better players. Our hope is for better days ahead as we wait for next year.
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524