Below are archived interviews from this past weeks show on 96.5 ESPN in West Tennessee.
R.C. Johnson came aboard in February of 1996 and immediately set forth in bringing U of M Tiger athletics into national prominence. Johnson spearheaded the Tigers move to the Big East Conference. He plans to retire in June.Over the last 15 years, the dynamic administrator has built Tiger Athletics into a nationally-recognized program that has participated in five bowl games and has competed in 14 post-season men’s basketball tournaments during his tenure. Under Johnson’s direction, donations to the department have risen steadily and more than $7 million has been raised each of the last three straight years.
While he has already spearheaded two major capital campaigns that raised over $21 million in private funds for athletic department projects, Johnson announced in June 2011, a major capital campaign to directly benefit the Tiger Football program. The Vision for Victory, as it is billed, was developed to raise $10 million for a 74,000-square foot indoor practice facility, design upgrades for the current facility and the resurfacing of the current grass fields.
Before taking over Tiger Athletics, Johnson was responsible for directing a Temple program with more than 500 student-athletes in 20 men’s and women’s intercollegiate sports, including nationally-visible programs in men’s basketball and football. He was named Temple’s director of athletics on May 9, 1994, after serving nearly six years as director of athletics at Miami (Ohio) University. He had also previously led the department at Eastern Illinois from 1980-88, and was the associate athletic director at Northern Iowa from 1974-80.
Bobby Plump is the player who hit the game winning shot for the Milan Indians in the 1954 Indiana state basketball tournament, which inspired the movie, Hoosiers (1986). He was invited to try out for the Minneapolis (now Los Angeles) Lakers.
Operates a restaurant named Plump’s Last Shot, filled with memorabilia from the Milan 1954 state championship team, located in the Broad Ripple section of Indianapolis. Played for Butler University from 1955-58 (NCAA rules then limited players to three years of eligibility) and guided the Bulldogs to the National Invitation Tournament as a senior. He ended his career at BU as the school’s all time leading scorer. Played three years for Phillips 66 of the National Industrial Basketball League, now the National AAU Basketball League (NABL). Ran a life insurance company.
Jason Smth is the beat writer for the University of Memphis basketball team, but it was his work in 2009 that had him on the show. Producers Dan Lindsay, T.J. Martin and Rich Middlemas drew inspiration from Commercial Appeal reporter Jason Smith. His 2009 story on a Manasass high school football player is what inspired the three to come to Memphis and film what would ultimately become the Oscar-winning documentary, “Undefeated.” Smith, one of the Commercial Appeal’s best reporters is featured quite a bit in the documentary.
A Mississippi native, inspirational leader and one of the nation’s top rising coaches, Hugh Freeze was the first choice to return championships to Ole Miss Football and was introduced as the Rebels’ 37th head coach on December 5, 2011.
Freeze, a noted speaker and recruiter throughout his career, has enjoyed success at nearly every coaching level over the past 18 years, from high school to NAIA to FBS, and each stop has featured a high scoring offense and the ability to motivate young people. The most recent stop for the former Ole Miss assistant was a record-setting run at Arkansas State.
With Freeze as head coach in 2011, the Red Wolves captured the Sun Belt Conference championship and became just the third school in Sun Belt history to finish undefeated in league play with a perfect 8-0 mark. The 10-2 overall record marked the program’s first 10-win season since 1986, when ASU was a member of the I-AA Southland Conference.
Prior to his arrival at Arkansas State, Freeze compiled a 20-5 record over the 2008 and 2009 seasons at the helm of the Lambuth University football program.
Freeze was named the American Football Coaches Association’s Southeast Region Coach of the Year in 2009 after leading the Eagles to their best regular season in school history with an 11-0 record. Under Freeze’s direction, Lambuth won the Mid-South Conference West Division, advanced to the second round of the NAIA playoffs for the first time since 1999, finished the year with a 12-1 mark and ascended to the No. 6 ranking in NAIA.