KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee's offense protected the ball and put together long drives in a 41-23 victory over the defense as 51,488, the second-largest spring game crowd in Vols history, came to see new coach Lane Kiffin's team.
Playing a more vanilla version of the offense — Kiffin said about 20 percent of the playbook was shown — the ball control problems of a year ago seemed past. "There were some lengthy drives. That's good to see. That's what happens when you don't turn the ball over," Kiffin said.
Tennessee's offense had suffered many interceptions and fumbles through 14 spring practices.
The team went through a typical game-day routine of meetings and the traditional "Vol Walk" with fans from the practice facility to Neyland Stadium. It was the first Vol Walk for the new coaching staff. Kiffin walked calmly past fans. Offensive line coach Ed Orgeron pumped his arms in the air and slapped fans' hands. Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, Lane's father and a former Bucs coordinator, was greeted by chants of "Monte! Monte!"
More spring games: Alabama coach Nick Saban left no doubt that Greg McElroy is the clear leader to replace John Parker Wilson. "He has shown he's far and away our best quarterback right now," Saban said after McElroy completed 16 of 30 passes for 189 yards and two touchdowns. … Notre Dame's offense scored three TDs in 13 possessions in a 68-33 win, but the defense returned an interception thrown by Jimmy Clausen for a score. "I think we improved in a lot of areas," coach Charlie Weis said. "We have a long way to go to be a really good football team."
Pitino's son to UF? Louisville assistant basketball coach Richard Pitino, son of the head coach, is leaving for a similar position at Florida, ESPN.com reported. Gators coach Billy Donovan is a former Pitino player and assistant, and is very close with the Pitino family. In other news involving Rick Pitino, the coach said he is the victim of an extortion attempt and has forwarded the information to the FBI. A statement released by Louisville said Pitino reported the threats last month and the FBI is investigating. No specifics were given. Louisville attorney Thomas Clay told the Courier-Journal newspaper he represents the woman being investigated and he did not "take issue" with a TV station report that she is Karen Sypher, wife of team equipment manager Tim Sypher. He gave no details.
more Basketball: Big 12 freshman of the year Willie Warren said he plans to stay at Oklahoma.
USF goes for Title: The third seed USF men's tennis team attempts to win its first Big East tournament title today when it hosts fifth seed DePaul at 9 a.m. at the Varsity Tennis Courts. The Bulls advanced by beating Notre Dame 4-1 in Saturday's semifinals.