Discussions are going on between Vanderbilt and Belmont about playing a home-and-home men’s basketball series.
It could begin next season.
The talks began when Kevin Stallings was still Vanderbilt’s coach and have continued since Bryce Drew replaced him.
Stallings and Belmont coach Rick Byrd are good friends, and Stallings did Byrd a solid when he agreed to have the Commodores play the Bruins in the first game ever played at Curb Event Center on Nov. 21, 2003.
Vanderbilt won 74-59 before a capacity crowd of 5,073.
The teams played again in 2010-11 at Memorial Gym, and the Commodores won 85-76; they haven’t played since then. Vanderbilt leads the series 4-0.
It turns out that Byrd also is friends with Drew, who previously coached at Valparaiso.
Drew was a player at Valparaiso when the Crusaders played Belmont twice in 1997-98 and was the coach when the series with Belmont was renewed this past season. Belmont lost at Valparaiso 61-57 on Dec. 3 and then beat the Crusaders 85-81 on Dec. 28 at Curb Event Center.
“Bryce and I are friends,” Byrd said. “I knew him as a player and then better as a coach. We talk sometimes on the recruiting trail and those kind of things.”
Byrd also is close to Drew’s father, Homer, who also coached at Valparaiso.
Vanderbilt signed a home-and-home contract to play Middle Tennessee State two weeks ago.
They will play at Murphy Center this season and then in Nashville the following two seasons. Negotiations for that contract also began with Stallings and continued with Drew.
Vanderbilt and MTSU haven’t played since the Commodores lost 56-52 at Bridgestone Arena in 2012. The last time the Commodores played at MTSU was in 2010-11, when they won 72-53.
Former Vandy pitcher Sowers is back in baseball
Former Vanderbilt pitcher Jeremy Sowers hasn’t played in a major league game since 2009, but he’s back with a big-league club.
Sowers, 32, a left-hander who played at Vanderbilt from 2002-04, is an assistant in the Tampa Bay Rays’ baseball operations department. He watches video replays for possible reviews during games and also prepares scouting reports.
Sowers, the sixth overall pick in the 2004 draft, suffered a shoulder injury, which required surgery during his playing career. He was released in 2011 by the Cleveland Indians. He tried to rehabilitate his shoulder and return to the big leagues but ruptured his Achillies, which ended his playing career.
Sowers spent time working at Wal-Mart in corporate strategy and pursued his MBA while he was out of baseball.
“I realized by stepping away from the game that I actually like this game,” Sowers told the Tampa Tribune.
Tech football players deliver snacks to fellow students
Tennessee Tech students, many stressed about upcoming final exams, received treats courtesy of some Golden Eagles football players this past week.
New coachMarcus Satterfieldhas encouraged his players to become more involved with the rest of the student body, and Chris Moore, a linebacker from Signal Mountain, Chris McElderry, a defensive end from Gadsden, Ala., and Charles Rutledge, an offensive lineman from Decatur, Ga., took him up on it.
They collected several trays of cookies and brownies left over from an athletic function the night before and handed them out on the main quad and in front of the library on campus.
“We’re all together as one family of students as finals week approaches,” Satterfield said. “(The football team) cares about the entire Tech family.”
Could Greer Stadium become tennis facility?
Belmont officials are talking with Metro Parks and Recreation officials about turning Greer Stadium into an indoor tennis facility.
Greer Stadium, the former home of the Sounds, is located less than 2 miles from Belmont’s campus.
Belmont’s men’s and women’s tennis teams currently play home matches at Centennial Sportsplex.
Greer Stadium, a city-owned facility, has been empty since the Sounds moved to First Tennessee Park in April 2015.
Metro also has been approached by groups wishing to use Greer for a minor league soccer team, rodeos and a museum.
Metro Parks and Recreation Director Tommy Lynch told The Tennessean last fall his department was recommending the demolition of the stadium.
Predators’ TV ratings still low in the playoffs
The Predators’ local television ratings in the playoffs have not been much better than they were in the regular season.
Game 4 of the first-round playoff series against the Anaheim Ducks was only the ninth-most watched sporting event locally last week; Game 3 was 15th, and Game 5 was 20th.
Top Tennessee PGA awards presented
Westhaven Golf Club Director of Instruction Virgil Herring was named the PGA Tennessee Section Teacher of the Year.
Winners of the other top awards included Old Hickory Country Club professional Joey Hickman (Strausbaugh Award for mentoring), Five Oaks’ Bryan Combiths (Golf Professional), Old Forte’s Jex Wilson (Youth Player Development), Tennessee Golf House’s Gaylon Cude (Richard Eller Award for growth of the game), Vanderbilt Legends’ Patrick Jackson (Horton Smith Award for professional education), Gaylord Springs’ Sean Wells (Assistant), Bear Trace Tims Ford’s Jared Melson (Merchandiser), Brentwood Country Club’s Johnny Bridgeman (Private Club) and Nike’s Ainsley Keller (Sales Representative).
Mike Lathrop, who served 34 years as the head professional at Hillwood Country Club, earned the 2016 Distinguished Career Award.
Cude and former PGA Tour player Bob Wolcott from Dickson are offering a free basic instruction clinic for beginners at 1 p.m. Sunday at Centerville Municipal Golf Course. For more information, call 931-729-2474.
Racing returns to Fairgrounds Speedway on Saturday
The second race in the Fairgrounds Nashville Speedway points standings is Saturday, May 7.
It will be Military Night, so all active military personnel are admitted free with their I.D.
Grand stands open at 2:45 p.m., and the green flag drops for the first of nine races at 5 p.m.
The feature will be the 100-lap Pro-Late Model Series, which will be the last race of the night.
Spencer Davis, 17, from Dawsonville, Ga., won the first Pro-Late Model race on April 2. Dillon Oliver from Bowling Green, was second, Josh Weston from Mt. Juliet third, two-time Daytona 500 winner Sterling Marlin from Columbia was fourth and Davey Coble from Madison was fifth.
Weathers to speak at Martin Methodist luncheon
Longtime major league pitcher David Weathers, a former Loretto star, will be the guest speaker at noon Wednesday for the Martin Methodist Athletic Department luncheon at Hickory House Restaurant in Pulaski.
Weathers spent 19 seasons in the majors, including 1996 when he helped the New York Yankees win the World Series.
He played for nine clubs and recorded 976 career strikeouts.
Weathers is now an assistant coach at Loretto.
For more information, call Wade Neely at 931-363-9883 or visit goredhawks.com.
Hall of fame swimming enthusiast Puckett dies
Jane Greer Puckett from Tullahoma, who is in several halls of fame for her efforts to promote swimming across the state, died April 22. She was 93.
Puckett was co-founder of the Tullahoma Swim Club in 1959. She then got involved in the Amateur Athletic Union, the Junior Olympics and the Olympics.
She was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 2002, AAU Volunteer Hall of Fame in 1989 and Tennessee Swimming Hall of Fame in 1986.
BGA’s French invited to national training camp
Battle Ground Academy junior Wrenne French accepted an invitation two weeks ago to try out for the USA Youth Under-17 National Soccer Team.
French, a forward, is among 26 players who were invited to the training camp, which took place April 16-23 at the U.S. Soccer National Training Center in Carson, Calif.
Those who make the roster will be notified in the summer and play in the Under-17 Women’s World Cup from Sept. 30-Oct. 21 in Jordan.
Teeter leaves Lipscomb for Austin Peay
Former Friendship Christian School volleyball standout Kaitlyn Teeter is leaving one Midstate college for another.
Teeter transferred this past week from Lipscomb to Austin Peay.
She was a four-time all-state selection who led Friendship Christian to the state championship in 2011 and 2012.
The 6-foot-3 outside hitter has two years of eligibility remaining.
Former Hillsboro star Gordon signs with semipro team
Former Hillsboro and Tennessee Vols standout Eric Gordon is making a return to football.
Gordon, a defensive back, signed a contract with the Nashville Storm semipro football team.
Gordon helped lead Hillsboro to the 2008 Class 4A state championship.
If you have an item for Midstate Chatter, contact Mike Organ at 615-259-8021 or on Twitter @MikeOrganWriter.
SPORTS ON NASHVILLE TV
The top five local ratings for sporting events on television for April 18-24.
1. NBA Playoffs: Warriors-Rockets, 5.2 rating
2. NASCAR: Richmond 400, 4.5 rating
3. NBA Playoffs: Cavaliers-Pistons, 3.6 rating
4. NBA Playoffs: Spurs-Grizzlies, 3.3 rating
5. NBA Playoffs: Rockets-Warriors, 3.3 rating
SEC Network ratings not available. Each rating point is equal to 9,902 Nashville homes.
Source: Mark Binda, WTVF-5 programming & research director