Adams: Signee not good for UT's new image

Daniel Hood signing to play football at the University of Tennessee might have been the classic local-kid-makes-good story. But there's more to it than that - a lot more.

Hood was convicted of a crime when he was 13 years old. Combine that one incident with UT's track record and you know how the story will play nationally: The Vols have changed football coaches but they haven't changed their image.

Image and perception: That's why you don't sign Catholic High School star Daniel Hood to a football scholarship. Not when you are lugging around all of UT's baggage.

The main problem I had with former coach Phillip Fulmer's program wasn't the won-lost record. It was the arrest record. There were too many off-the-field incidents and too little discipline in return.

New UT coach Lane Kiffin has been all about discipline. He has the attrition to show for it. Four players have been kicked off the team, and another was disciplined before he left of his own volition.

You can't say, "There's a new sheriff in town," because that implies the existence of a previous sheriff. But by the end of spring practice, you could conclude this wasn't business as usual.

So much has changed about UT football in the last few months, and virtually all of it for the better. A stagnant program is suddenly pulsating with energy. Fans are excited and optimistic.

There's a new offense, a new defense and a new outlook.

Amidst all the newness, this is no time to revert.

Hood was only 13 when the incident occurred. He assisted an older teenager in the rape of a 14-year-old girl. The 17-year-old was sentenced to 10 years in prison. As a juvenile, Hood was placed in state custody until he was 17.

He seemingly has come a long way since the incident. He was an honors student as well as a standout athlete at Catholic High. His principal, Dickie Sompayrak, and assistant principal Stan Branson swear by him.

Hood, Sompayrak, Branson and UT publicist Tiffany Carpenter met with News Sentinel reporters Tuesday afternoon. Hood answered questions candidly and calmly. He spoke of his religious conversion and his determination to live an exemplary life, but he didn't minimize his involvement in what he called a "heinous" crime.

Carpenter said UT researched Hood's case extensively. Glowing references were provided on his behalf. Carpenter said even the rape victim had written a letter in support of Hood.

So there's compelling evidence Hood will follow the straight and narrow at UT. And everyone deserves a second chance, right?

Right. But that doesn't make it right for UT. Let Hood pursue his college education and play football for a program with a less troubled past. There's too much history at UT. If Kiffin didn't understand that, then athletic director Mike Hamilton should have filled him in.

Fulmer figured that out. His staff offered Hood a scholarship, then backed off. Hood assumes that was because of the incident.

Since his first address to the Vol Nation, Kiffin has made it clear he's all about winning. So I don't believe he signed Hood as a goodwill gesture to a local kid who is trying to turn his life around. He signed him because he believes Hood can help him win football games.

But a young coach who prides himself in recruiting nationally isn't seeing the big picture here. This isn't about one student-athlete. It's about a program with an image problem.

Kiffin has changed the offense, defense and outlook. He needs to change the image, too.

Sports editor John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com.

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Comments » 262

utvols1 writes:

Get consistent. You can't have it both ways. First you praise LK then you throw him under the bus for not knowing our "history". We aren't the only D1 school to have some off the field issues. Instead of giving the school credit for doing their due diligence you want to punish the staff and UT before the kid even gets here. Lane has done much to clean up the Fulmer "look the other way" show. Give LK and the staff the benefit of the doubt.

dvols writes:

neither is adams

i'm just sayin

TommyJack writes:

So Adams. You believe in redemption; just somewhere else, huh?

rains_g#232559 writes:

The kid was 13 and it was an awful crime...but the kid was 13. He deserves a second chance and he doesn't deserve to have his name drug threw the mud by the News Sentinel. Yes, this incident is public knowledge but I guarantee you that most of the Vol Nation didn't know about it. Shame on you John Adams for bringing it up again.

Orangeblood13 writes:

plain and simple Adams will never stop bashing Tennessee no matter who the coach is.

jerk

RockyTop writes:

Sometimes you just have to look at the situation. This doesn't seem like a bad gamble to me. This didn't just happen last week or last month, it's been several years. Image or not, this isn't a situation that should bury the team or the coaching staff.

mercuryvol writes:

For those who don't believe in second chances look up Ben Carson MD + Johns Hopkins and then add a glance at St. Paul.

BillsBrother writes:

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

I disagree with John on this one.

The crime is heinous, yes. But this young man has had six years to prove he now knows right from wrong. I believe that young Mr. Hood will have to put up with far more challenges to his reputation than the University will have to face for putting him on athletic scholarship.

COVolsFan writes:

"The main problem I had with former coach Phillip Fulmer's program wasn't the won-lost record. It was the arrest record."

What a crock of sh*t. Adams, you're a joke.

belayvol writes:

Unlike the other 99.9% of incidents involving athletes including our own, this incident occured several years ago. This kid has done everything possible to turn his life around. This does not reflect badly on UT and it's past. In fact, it could enhance it if the kid continues to be an outstanding student and athlete. Then we can say we gave him a fair shot and look how it turned out. Actions speak louder than words and his actions afterwards are speaking loudly. I believe in giving him a chance. Go Vols!

Nhcster writes:

Thank goodness for the wisdom and morality of John Adams. He knows better than this kids Principal, Assistant Principle, UT coaching staff and even the victim herself. What would UT do without this omnipotent self-appointed watchdog who is so clear about his status as a columnist not a fan?!

What dribble....

BillVol writes:

Have to disagree with Mr. Adams on this one. But he's still the best.

OrangeRush writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

TheVolMan writes:

in response to Orangeblood13:

plain and simple Adams will never stop bashing Tennessee no matter who the coach is.

jerk

Stop yer whining Orangeblood13. JA just tells it as he sees it, and usually he's dead-on. He read the writing on the wall about Fulmer while folks like you yipped about "Adams bashing Tennessee."

I don't always agree with John, as with article, but he's a hell of a writer and has the gonads to tell it like it is regardless of what the orange-feathered ostriches prefer to hear.

newtonrail writes:

in response to TheVolMan:

Stop yer whining Orangeblood13. JA just tells it as he sees it, and usually he's dead-on. He read the writing on the wall about Fulmer while folks like you yipped about "Adams bashing Tennessee."

I don't always agree with John, as with article, but he's a hell of a writer and has the gonads to tell it like it is regardless of what the orange-feathered ostriches prefer to hear.

I have said what I want to about the recruit on another post. Adams is a sourpuss, who jumps on the bandwagon late to anything. The sorriest excuse for a writer this paper has ever had, and I'm a Majors guy, not Fulmer.

bloodrunsorange writes:

As a college teacher and a high school teacher and coach for over three decades, I must say Mr. Adams you attitude is wrong. To ever give up on our youth is totally wrong. Your attitude is as bad as the mistake this young man has made because you should know better. His cup is in the process of filling not empting. He has been give a second chance and completely succeeded. Now, he has been given a third chance and I hope he is just as successful. Maybe you’re the only one who has never done anything wrong but most of us have done some wrong in our lives. Things we will always wish we hadn’t done or would do differently now. His act was much worse than stupid but the journey of character building for him was and is harder and longer. Fathers still love their children even if they are not perfect. I’m pulling for this young man. His character is still being molded and I for one am proud of the way he is attacking the problem with his head up, his shoulders back, and his eyes looking directly at yours. Coach Kiffin will prove you wrong too. My estimation of Coach Kiffin has been elevated because I’m starting to believe he is molder of young men as well as a coach with the objective to win. The Big Orange Nation not only wants to win but to always win with class! I have never met Daniel Hood but I sincerely hope our faith in him is justified and his blood will run orange.

Voluvr writes:

Mr. Adams,
Tennessee's past has nothing to do with Kiffin. He couldn't care less about a past image. I didn't know about this until you told me. A bad deal yes. Should the kid have a chance to move on? Yes. Should Kiffin pass on a kid that can help the team because of something bad he did when he was 13? No.

Kiffin reputation is in good form as you agree. The only one trying to attach Tennessee's old reputation to him is you.

By the way, Tennessee's reputation is no worse than any other SEC school.

Voluvr writes:

So, it's okay with you that he go and play for another school, but just not Tennessee. Who cares about other schools, right?

Lame argument.

DA4BigOrange writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

belayvol writes:

It seems JA did not confer with Drew before writing this column. Drew's piece has Daniels actual words inside it. A much more informative piece.

belayvol writes:

in response to DA4BigOrange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

That's right, it's all a grand conspiracy. Do a little research on the kid before you completely inhale the JA drivel.

BigOrangeCrazy writes:

No way in H3LL will I defend this kid or the decision to except him at UT.

The question I have is this, if the judicial system is done with him then what should happen to the rest of his life?

Should he not be admitted to UT but another D1 school?
D2? NAIA? Where's the line? At some point in time he has to get a chance to be a producive member of society, right?

bobbarbilly writes:

I don't have a parrot, a parakeet or even a keet but I think that I will buy at least one so I will have a place to file this article.

knoxdude32 writes:

It just seems odd that all of you want to forgive the fact that he bound and raped his cousin, let me say that again, his cousin. But when some kids at Austin-East stole some items most of you wanted to hang those kids. Just goes to show the hypocritical nature of people.

belayvol writes:

in response to knoxdude32:

It just seems odd that all of you want to forgive the fact that he bound and raped his cousin, let me say that again, his cousin. But when some kids at Austin-East stole some items most of you wanted to hang those kids. Just goes to show the hypocritical nature of people.

I am going to assume you are trying to say those that support the decision are racist since Hood is white and the kids at AE are black? 1st i never wanted to hang anybody. If the AE kids went on to turn around like Hood did, i would applaud them and pull loudly for them. 2nd, i was in agreement with UT signing him before i found out he was white. I could care less about color. Except Orange and White. Once they enroll, that is the only colors i see.

mercuryvol writes:

in response to knoxdude32:

It just seems odd that all of you want to forgive the fact that he bound and raped his cousin, let me say that again, his cousin. But when some kids at Austin-East stole some items most of you wanted to hang those kids. Just goes to show the hypocritical nature of people.

As I noted,check out Ben Carson MD before hanging "hypocrite" on all of us.

BigVolFaninSC writes:

I have to disagree with Mr. Adams on this one. We all need to trust that UT did its homework on this kid and that he has really turned it around. Why can't it be a feel good story AND a solid recruit in one package? What a POSITIVE it could be if he comes in, keeps his nose clean and becomes a star! Mr. Adams, I'm glad you will not be my judge at the Pearly Gates! I'm not perfect and neither are you! If he comes in and causes a problem, THEN is the time to blast UT. I wonder how much research you did on his behavior since his conversion? If the young lady that was violated has forgiven him, then why can't you allow the staff to do their jobs? GO VOLS!!!!

belayvol writes:

Just a side note, but when has JA ever cared about UT's reputation? I seem to remember him crawling up out of that Louisiana swamp many years ago and people yelling for his head back then. Maybe i need another dose of Alzheimers meds.

knoxdude32 writes:

in response to belayvol:

I am going to assume you are trying to say those that support the decision are racist since Hood is white and the kids at AE are black? 1st i never wanted to hang anybody. If the AE kids went on to turn around like Hood did, i would applaud them and pull loudly for them. 2nd, i was in agreement with UT signing him before i found out he was white. I could care less about color. Except Orange and White. Once they enroll, that is the only colors i see.

Of course you missed the point. The point is the nature of the crime. People degraded kids who stole some clothes but applaud and reward a kid who raped his cousin. If i were the coach, administration, or anyone else associated with UT I wouldn't touch the kid with a 10 foot pole. But then again, UT never has been very rational in dealing with its athletes.

FatherVol writes:

John, I'm thinking that you would have been one of those who would have said it's OK for Paul(Saul) to preach but only in other cities. Redemption is by God and forgivess illuminates the path of the redeemed.

BamaVol writes:

in response to DA4BigOrange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

If you are without SIN, cast your stone.
What does DA stand for, here it means dumb azz

kdaff51 writes:

Does one mistake constitute a "Troubled Past" or does several mistakes constitute the same. I think its important here to give the kid a chance provided this is the only thing he has done (and yes it was a bad thing) but given his age at the time, his influences and what he has done since then need to be considered. If this had happened last week, month, year then yes he is not the type person you want in the program. So lets give CLK and Mr. Hood a pass on this one. I think we all will benefit in the long term.

chaos001 writes:

i'm not familiar with his case at all. did he willingly participate in this crime or was he forced into it by the older perp? people will do crazy things if they're threatened into them.

yeah, this doesn't look good on the surface...but what's done is done. if he screws up once, kick him to the curb.

bigorangefan79 writes:

Is there anyone in the Volnation that doesn't hate John Adams?

bigorangefan79 writes:

Here is the summary of the incident by the court. It's ugly and evil, but he was a 13 year old being pressured by a 17 year old. He obviously screwed up and he knows it. That's all the more reason for him to try and prove that he can be trusted. It seems to me like he's been trying to earn that trust by walking the straight and narrow. I say we give him a short leash and maybe he can prove John Adams wrong by turning all this negative attention into something possitive.
http://www.tsc.state.tn.us/OPINIONS/T...

MidTennVol writes:

I can't overstate how much I disagree with you here, Adams. The football program's image is more important than winning, even if it might mean giving a second chance to a kid who's obviously earned it?

One could argue that turning this kid away because of that incident -- i.e. NOT giving him the second chance he's so obviously earned -- would harm the football program's image far more (not to mention the University's image).

He may be perceived by folks like you as a toxic asset now, he and the team may get some vile commentary from FL fans when they visit the swamp this fall but, four years from now, when Daniel Hood hopefully graduates from UT with honors and a spotless record, some of us out here will remind you of this column.

belayvol writes:

in response to knoxdude32:

Of course you missed the point. The point is the nature of the crime. People degraded kids who stole some clothes but applaud and reward a kid who raped his cousin. If i were the coach, administration, or anyone else associated with UT I wouldn't touch the kid with a 10 foot pole. But then again, UT never has been very rational in dealing with its athletes.

Unless i had been aware of the story you referenced and comments made about AE kids ( of which i was not ), it would have been easy for me or anyone else reading your post to assume it was about race ( which i did ).

The point of this story is not about rewarding anyone who was associated with a rape. It is about how he he turned his life around so far ( read Drew's column ), his willingness to accept his fault, and determination to not hide but to better himself for it. My opinion is he has earned the right for a chance to go to UT and play. After all that is all he is wanting, a chance. If he does not work out, he will be gone. See long list of current departees.

belayvol writes:

in response to bigorangefan79:

Is there anyone in the Volnation that doesn't hate John Adams?

pseudo fans, gatorz, DC, Bobonaffy,sniffsanders,Septflaloses, and so forth.

belayvol writes:

in response to MidTennVol:

I can't overstate how much I disagree with you here, Adams. The football program's image is more important than winning, even if it might mean giving a second chance to a kid who's obviously earned it?

One could argue that turning this kid away because of that incident -- i.e. NOT giving him the second chance he's so obviously earned -- would harm the football program's image far more (not to mention the University's image).

He may be perceived by folks like you as a toxic asset now, he and the team may get some vile commentary from FL fans when they visit the swamp this fall but, four years from now, when Daniel Hood hopefully graduates from UT with honors and a spotless record, some of us out here will remind you of this column.

Spot on Denmark.

easymoney writes:

We some how have you as a writer for the local paper and that also is not good for our image. We continue to give you a second, third, fourth chance. Should I go on? I cannot believe you would say that this is not good for UT's image. After reading this article if I was in charge at UT, I would revoke your press pass. I think you owe Daniel Hood and UT apologies.

teampenny#658108 writes:

John you are right to big of risk. LK is about winning football games. This will not be the last of these types of players as long as they can play we will sign them. Guess the crime could have been worse could have been his sister, his mother or one of our daughters. What are our coaches thinking. Suppose he will be baby sitting for the coach? Lock your doors Layla! Signing class just got better- sad day in Vol Nation Go Vols

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

I personally think this was a very good article. Why can't Adams have a personal opinion without you witch hunters attacking him? No matter what he prints, you're gonna rip him.

Hood is not a good risk for the program at this point. Has nothing to do with second chances. UT is strong enough in selecting talent that it should not put itself into position to continually get headlines by recruiting players that have this reputation at all.

It is great that he has evidently turned a new leaf, but playing for UT should be a PRIVILEGE only offered to those displaying high moral character that is above reproach. Some of you goofballs I'm sure don't even know that word. Adams is right on with this article.

volunteer_cowboy writes:

just creating hype to sell papers is what KNS pays ja for and this is his way.

makdadvol writes:

John Adams' just mad cause he did not go to LSU.

littleorange writes:

John resurfaces, continual damning of the Vol. program. When does your southeast radio tour start?

BIGEJ writes:

The victim has forgiven and is supportive of this young man. Let it go.........GO VOLS

mmynatt writes:

I am finally compelled to speak up: Jon Adams is an idiot. The kid has redeemed himself; even the victim wrote a letter of recommendation -- for this I am not giving John Adams a second chance:)

StroVol writes:

All I can say is, I played football with Dickie Sompayrac in High School at Notre Dame. He and his brother Howie and family are pillars of the Community. Absolute top notch people that mold young women and men into goood students and better people. If Dickie stands by this kid, then I'm all in. Let this story become one of redemption and hope.
By the way, Sompayrac is pronounced "Somparack"

turner_c writes:

John Adams, when your church converts a sinner, do they then make him a second class member of the church? Perhaps you should review your bible.

GreerVol22 writes:

Would Fulmer be here if he was 10-2 last season or even 8-4? probably so. So don't give us this phooey about how image is more important than W's and L's. Kiffin is here with one purpose and he has not made any bones about it, win. It's what the majority of fans want, it's what the university wants. I don't see you writing about Florida's image, or Southern Cal's, or Ohio State's....why? because they win.

That being said, if this kid as much as farts in Lit class then he's done. Rest assured Kiffin has made this crystal clear to young Mr. Hood.

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