published Monday, November 19th, 2012

Gossett blog: Looking for TSSAA expense check?

Wanted: Proof that any team received an all expenses paid trip to a TSSAA high school championship game. This, of course, excludes, Sullivan South trips to Columbia.

According to its website, "TSSAA is one of a very few states that pays its members' expenses not only to the football play-off series and basketball state tournaments, but to all other sports. TSSAA pays expenses to state meets in wrestling, track, volleyball, golf, tennis, cross country, baseball, softball, soccer, decathlon and pentathlon state events."

The statement was found under TSSAA History, Facts and Figures, "How is TSSAA Financed."

Has any team had its way paid? We'd love to know.

There is a footnote following the last item: "Last Modified August 26, 1999."

Bet there are a lot of coaches who'll be glad to know they never had to sweat to make sure their team's expenses were paid, huh?

Guess the check's in the mail.

• Here are some notes, rumors and leftovers on high school football and high school and college wrestling:

• Signal Mountain has filled its 2013 football schedule, adding Bradley Central, Red Bank and Greeneville.

Both of those Greeneville games may wind up being played at Carson-Newman.

All three of the games represent first-time opponents for the Eagles, although they played Bradley in their first (junior varsity) season.

• Was surprised to see the TSSAA turn down a request from McMinn Central for a co-op wrestling program with McMinn County. The Chargers haven't had a program in three years - basically since Brian Gossett went to Alcoa -- and the Cherokees continue to struggle to fill a 14-man team. The denial was based on history. Most of the time schools have to have been without a sport for five years before they can receive co-op approval. McMinn Central, which apparently has a handful of potential wrestlers, was appealing that time frame.

• A couple of previously reported events will change the face of Tennessee high school wrestling -- The Division II coaches have asked for an eight-man bracket for the traditional state tournament and Division I coaches are looking at AAA and A/AA state tournament divisions. Both changes are likely to come in time for the 2014 state tournaments. Don't know what happened to the D-II coaches' appeal for a one-day duals tournament, or for that matter, a long-ago appeal by Division I coaches to return to a single rather than double-elimination event.

The logistics haven't yet been worked out on the traditional changes but it appears that the DI state tournaments will be 24- and 16-man brackets. Question is whether there now will be AAA and A/AA qualifying tournaments. Is it possible there could be another tournament in the qualifying chain, or that Division II wrestlers will have to qualify, finally, to get to their state tournament?

• Had a talk last week with Terry Brands, the associate head coach of national wrestling powerhouse Iowa, and he had some really neat things to share. Before I continue there, though, have to say the Iowa kids were so down-to-earth. No fancy warm-ups, either -- either yellow tops with black pants, black tops with yellow pants, cotton; the stuff Hixson or Bradley wears.

Didn't see a single stuffed-shirt among the bunch. Confident, yes; cocky, no. humble to a fault. It was refreshing.

Brands, the former UTC head coach, is a highly-decorated wrestler on the collegiate, national and international levels.

-- On commitment: Wrestling can be really difficult if you're not committed. It can be challenging and difficult if you are committed to it. [The Iowa] program and my philosophy are two in the same. It isn't just Iowa but the philosophy and the attention we bring to living life a certain way and doing things American citizens should be doing any way."

-- On his career as an NCAA champion, world champion and Olympic medalist:

"I don't wake up in the morning and think 'I coach at Iowa so I'm entitled to this or that.' I coached Chattanooga the same way as Iowa. Chattanooga was my life, my heart, my soul and I don't separate Chattanooga wrestling and Iowa wrestling. I don't think I'm entitled. You get what you earn."

— On the Iowa mindset: "We're just a bunch of normal people that are reaching out and training and believing at a level that will help us become extraordinary."

— And on being a celebrity; his response to but you're Terry Brands: "Yeah and you can be a whole heckuva lot better than I was. When I evaluate my career, it wasn't that great of a career from my perspective, and you can do better. Will you work? If you work you can do more. All I had was my work ethic."

*It is Brands the Mocs should thank for charter bus trips.

"He drove me to never take vans ever again," Mocs coach and former Brands assistant Heath Eslinger said with a sigh. "We went all way to Ames, Iowa, then all way to Virginia Tech and then home on two 12-passenger vans. Our athletes can think him for our charter bus trips."

Here's a great insight on and Terry and his brother Tom, the Iowa coach, from friend and former teammate Chris Hatcher: "People think of them as very intense, brutal wrestlers, but they are very caring people. Their perspective on life and wrestling -- I really get a lot out of it -- from the way they parent to the way they treat wives and family members. They believe in doing things right, accountability, hard work and discipline. They are critical of themselves and they hold themselves accountable -- you get what you earn and it's your responsibility if things don't work out for you."

• There's a rumor out there that one of the two Division II-AA schools offered $5,000 to Howard to play a game next year. Both Baylor and McCallie are reportedly struggling to fill their non-conference schedules. Neither Bradley Central nor Soddy-Daisy elected to renew Baylor contracts and McMinn County and Tyner reportedly turned down future McCallie games.

• Also surprised that football coach Chad Barger was ousted at Sequatchie County. If one reads the news reports, they say he resigned. Perhaps, but insiders believe it was under duress.

Could he move a short way up the road to his alma mater? It's a possibility. Rumors have been out there for a year or more that Bledsoe coach Jason Reel was headed for administration. Also, Chad might head for west Tennessee where his brother is head coach at Lake County.

There were at least two former head coaches on Barger's Sequatchie staff that might be considered as replacement material -- Curt Jones and Sam Montgomery.

about Ward Gossett...

Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...

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