Random ruminations while wondering whatever happened to Rollie Fingers . . .
WARD’S WIFE DIES: Legendary radio voice of the Tennessee Vols, John Ward, has been hospitalized for some time.
According to former Knoxville News-Sentinel sports editor and columnist Marvin West, Barbara Ward had an auto accident while driving home after visiting her husband John in the hospital on July 14. She died six days later.
The couple has been married 62 years. Both were UT grads and both held law degrees. John left the Knoxville newspaper to become an executive with Scripps-Howard and lived near Washington D.C.
He was honored 28 times as Sportscaster of the Year in Tennessee. Private graveside services were held for Barbara.
VANDY MOVING? The rumors keep on coming. If Nashville is awarded a pro soccer team, it will play on a soccer stadium to be built at the Fairgrounds.
If it gets a franchise, the rumors suggest Vanderbilt would play its home football games in that Fairgrounds stadium. Vanderbilt officials are tight lipped about the possibility.
It would be the worst move ever for Vanderbilt’s football program. Granted, the current stadium is embarrassing, as any sellout is determined by how many fans of the visiting teams attend. They will sell out Vanderbilt Stadium when teams such as Georgia, Florida, Alabama and of course Tennessee visit Nashville.
Non SEC and other Power Five opponents rarely bring enough fans to fill the seats.
I humbly suggest that Vanderbilt stays on campus for football games. Vandy students and older season ticket holders would not attend games at the Fairgrounds. Are you kidding? They barely come to Vanderbilt Stadium for games as it is. They need to look at Appalachian State’s football facilities in Boone, N.C. At one end of the stadium they have an all-purpose building that includes locker rooms for both teams, athletics department administrative offices, top flight weight rooms, etc. There’s a grassy bowl at the other end and anyone can sit there instead of the bleachers, especially on hot days when sitting on aluminum bleachers will fry buns, no, not hot dog buns.
Vanderbilt football booster John Ingram is pushing for a professional soccer franchise and Fairgrounds stadium.
If they combine the Fairgrounds stadium with Vanderbilt, it won’t draw flies. You think Vandy students, frats and sororities are going to dare going to that part of town? They don’t even go to games now and it’s in walking distance.
FISHER AN ALL-TIME PRED: Even if he stays in Smashville with his family, Predators captain and ideal role model Mike Fisher will be missed on the ice.
Fisher wrote his own retirement farewell address and it was classy. He could have stayed, but I imagine he had seen teammate P.K. Subban getting his head continually bashed on the ice by Pittsburgh choirboy Sidney Crosby without a hint of the act drawing a penalty and knew that could have been him as he closes in on 40 years old.
Hey, Fisher is married to singer Carrie Underwood. ‘Nuff said. They have a young son and a bright future. I trust they can get by financially on being a one-income family.
Fisher could teach other younger athletes how to be a consummate professional and how to conduct themselves as a captain.
JOHN REAVES PASSES: Former Florida quarterback John Reaves was found dead at his Tampa home last Tuesday. He was 67. No word yet on cause of death.
Reaves quarterbacked the 1969 Gators, known as the Super Sophs. They included Reaves, Carlos Alvarez and Tommy Durrance, a team that came within one game of winning the school’s first SEC championship.
Reaves went on to play in the NFL, but struggled with drug and alcohol addiction. His lowest point was when he was arrested in Tampa in 2008 for aggravated assault with a firearm and possession of cocaine.
“It’s sad to see that John has passed on, but we’ll celebrate his life down in Tampa with so many good friends and Gators,’’ said former Florida Coach Steve Spurrier. “His memory will always be with us.’’
WYCHECK SITS OUT: Popular radio talk show co-host Frank Wycheck is taking a year off of being the game analyst for Titans games. He will be replaced by Dave McGinnis, a former Titans linebackers and assistant head coach for Jeff Fisher for eight years.
Wycheck had a history of concussions dating back to college football at Maryland and added more with the Titans. He recently fell at home and got another concussion.
Take care, Frankie. Get well. As for Coach Mac, he left town for St. Louis and borrowed some of my books on Vietnam. Now I can quit chasing him around the country to get them back. I wasn’t worried. I knew I could count on Mac.
Joe Biddle is a WKRN.com sports columnist. He is also a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Contact him at email@example.com