Tennessee shouldn't charge admission to spring football game, even to see Nico Iamaleava | Adams

John Adams
Knoxville News Sentinel

Tennessee will begin spring football practice next week, which will lead up to a spring game unlike any other in recent years.

Why will it be so different? Because UT is charging you to attend.

A general admission ticket will cost you $5. How ridiculous.

Fans should have to pay at least $20 to attend this monumental event at Neyland Stadium.

Tennessee is no longer some middling opponent straining to stay ahead of Kentucky in the SEC East.  Jeremy Pruitt has left the building and taken his NCAA-violating wife and babysitter with him. Butch Jones is long gone. So is Derek Dooley.

Tennessee is a top-10 team that just throttled national power Clemson in the Orange Bowl. Moreover, its offense has become one giant highlight show under second-year coach Josh Heupel. The Vols led the nation in points and yards per game last season.

And you expect to get that level of entertainment for a mere $5? What’s wrong with athletic director Danny White? I would be surprised if he hadn’t already received a scolding email from chancellor Donde Plowman about his spring-game giveaway.

This isn’t just some top-10 team’s spring game. It’s the Nico Show.

For the first time, UT fans can watch five-star quarterback Nico Iamaleava showing off his million-dollar arm. Or, based on all those NIL rumors, his “multi-million-dollar arm.” That alone should be worth more than $5.

So what if Iamaleava will begin his career second to Joe Milton on UT’s depth chart? Iamaleava is regarded as the quarterback of the future, and the future of Tennessee football looks better than it has in a long time.

I still vividly remember the first time I saw quarterback Peyton Manning in Tennessee colors. He completed all but one of his passes in a preseason scrimmage as a freshman.

He wasn’t just accurate. He already seemed to have a grasp of the offense and a natural ability for finding an open receiver.

You didn’t have to be an NFL scout to conclude that guy might be pretty good.

Imagine if that scrimmage had been open to the general populace. Decades later, those attending could have recounted in exquisite, pass-by-pass detail when they realized one of the greatest quarterbacks in football history was in their midst.

You don’t know how good Iamaleava might become. But just in case, don’t you want to be on the ground floor of his college career – for bragging rights if nothing else? Think how much fan credibility that will be worth.

It will be worth a lot more than $5. And more than UT should benefit.

The NIL is all about players capitalizing on their name, image, and likeness. So, regardless of how much money Iamaleava already has received for signing with the Vols, who deserves to benefit more from the Nico Show than Nico?

Surely, his business partners have considered this. If not, they aren’t worthy of his partnership.

I would recommend an Iamaleava meet-and-greet for fans leading up to the spring-game kickoff. Fans could get his autograph and pose for photos – for a small fee, of course. They also could qualify for a postgame drawing.

After the game, 50 fans lucky enough to have their name drawn could catch passes from Iamaleava – for another small fee, of course.

Then, years later, after Iamaleva has led Tennessee to the national championship, won a Heisman Trophy and been inducted into the college and pro football hall of fames, you could tell your family and friends what it was like to catch a pass from Nico Iamaleava.


John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or Follow him at: