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Jenny Wright, Trae’s guilt and the Tammy Faye head tilt

Jenny Wright

Wanna know why I’ve yet to write about the Trae Golden situation? Because I’ve yet to understand the Trae Golden situation. I mean, for the life of me, I’ve been unable to reconcile the various pieces. First you had Cuonzo Martin’s decision to release Travon Landry from his letter of intent. Apparently the kid just wasn’t good enough — hadn’t progressed enough. So the Vols signed Darius Thompson and let Landry go.

But why would Cuonzo release a point guard just days before he’d lose another? I mean, surely Cuonzo knew what was coming, right? Because it’s been my experience that an academic issue such as Trae’s purported plagiarism situation doesn’t just pop up overnight. At least the resolution to such a situation doesn’t. It’s a process. One to which the key players involved are normally privy.

And one of those key players would have been Coach Martin. So why would he cut Travon loose and put all of his eggs in the basket of Darius Thompson? Especially when the release of Yemi gave him yet another scholarship to work with?

Public opinion was split. Cuonzo supporters believed this was, indeed, an academic issue, while Cuonzo nay-sayers believed Coach Martin had somehow played the situation. That he’d let Travon Landry go, then hadn’t done all he could do to help “save Golden” — a player with whom he’d had a rocky relationship — all because Cuonzo had Antonio Barton — the point guard who recently decided to leave Memphis — waiting in the wings.

That seemed a bit much to me. But, again, I wasn’t buying the story coming out of UT, either. Especially after I read BF Quinn’s piece on GoVolsXtra in which Trae’s dad categorized the reports of academic problems as “totally inaccurate.” The article raised more questions than it answered. And while several quotes caught me funny, none struck me more than this one:

Robert Golden said…Martin and Trae Golden ‘have an understanding about what’s going on and what’s happened.’

There’s something about the language that Robert Golden used — the understanding of what’s going on and what’s happened — that left me with the notion that we weren’t getting all the info. That there was a piece missing. And because of that, the waters were too muddy to discern the truth. At least that was my take.

Enter Jenny Wright who somehow made the waters both clearer and muddier in the blink of an eye.

Wait, what?

If Trae Golden had ever had previous academic issues, Jenny Wright would have most certainly been involved. That was basically her job. And if she was having an inappropriate relationship with Trae, maybe she would have been inclined to help him out? I mean, she’d certainly be in a position to. That’s for sure.

As Clay Travis put it:

If you want to read the tea leaves, it certainly looks like Wright was helping to cover up Golden’s academic fraud and then the university found out about it.

This is such an impossible scenario — someone in Wright’s position as it pertains to student athletes getting into, you know, positions as it pertains to student athletes (allegedly) — that it’s hard to even know where to go from here. Which is precisely why I now believe nothing was adding up before. Which, maybe, is why Golden’s dad said that his son and Coach Martin had “an understanding of what’s going on and what’s happened.” And that this wasn’t an academic thing. And I gotta agree, even if plagiarism was involved. Because this transcends academics. This falls under the category of “institutional scandal.”

Today on Sports 180, Josh and Will had Jimmy Hyams on, who informed the listeners that the university has brought in independent counsel to further investigate the matter of Wright’s “inappropriate relations,” and that said investigation was specifically looking into relations Wright might have had with two other UT student athletes, a basketball player and a football player.

Shortly thereafter, we learned who the basketball player was:

This is where I bow out, my friends. Because I have zero answers. Only questions. The primary one being: once UT finishes its investigation, they’ll certainly turn this matter over to the NCAA. Then what?

Much of that, I would imagine, depends on who knew what. If Ms. Wright really was engaging in inappropriate relationships with athletes, and if she was involved in any type of academic cover up, and the investigation reveals that others — particularly her supervisors — were involved with the cover up as well? Then I imagine the phrase “lack of institutional control” would be bandied about a bit.

BUT, there’s no need to paint the devil on the wall at this point. The investigation began just last week. And thanks to documents obtained from the university via the FOI act, it’s known that Wright tried to resign May 9, but UT wouldn’t accept her resignation, citing the fact that she was under investigation. (She was fired on Monday for refusing to cooperate with the investigation, as well as for choosing not to attend a meeting with Provost Susan Martin per advice from her attorney.)

That all adds up a bit better, no? The Golden announcement was made on May 7, just two days before Jenny Wright tried to resign, both likely brought about by the investigation that was launched last week. But more importantly for the bigger picture, it sounds like the University of Tennessee is doing everything it can to get to the bottom of the matter both earnestly (great call on bringing in independent counsel) and as quickly as possible.

Two things are certain. First, we can call off the Cuonzo witch hunt. Dude wasn’t angling 18 different things at once. He was drowning in an impossible sea of “What the hell?”

And second, UT’s point guard woes pale in comparison to this sordid soap opera that’s unraveling before our very eyes — a soap opera that has once again placed the University of Tennessee in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. (I’m looking at you, ButtChuggers.)

Looking for Miss Wright?

So, now that we’ve gotten the nuts and bolts out of the way, let’s switch gears to the human interest element of the story, shall we?

I was discussing the situation today via telephone with one of the trusted members of the highly regarded Basement Braintrust when he brought forth a most unexpected twist.

According to said friend, he’d had contact with Jenny Wright. Namely, Ms. Wright had made an overture of sorts directed at him on the site Match.com. I’m unfamiliar with Match.com’s nomenclature (I promise, honey), but I believe the term is wink. She cyber winked at him, whatever the hell that means. I suppose it’s like a poke on Facebook. (NO, honey. I’m not poking ANYONE on Facebook. Jeez.) Again, so my friend alleges.

Given that my friend is presumably on the site to find Ms. WRight, this wink deal would seem like the ideal development. Only there was no proper name attached, as Match.com is username driven, so at the time my friend didn’t even know the true identity of this mysterious cyber-winker. BUT, he’s now positive it was Jenny Wright because the pictures attached to the account were the same ones which were widely published yesterday (Tuesday) on sites like outkickthecoverage.com.

Yet my friend declined to advance the ball, if you will, despite the fact that, by all photographic accounts, Jenny Wright is a perfectly attractive young woman.

“Why?” I asked.

“There was something about her pictures that freaked me out.”

After a thorough review of the pictures in question, I think I’ve uncovered what made my friend uneasy. It’s a phenomenon known as the “Happy Girl Head Tilt” which many credit Tammy Faye Bakker for first implementing.

Behold:

The camera-friendly move encompasses a 45-degree tilt of the head and is often accompanied by freshly batted (if not heavily mascara’d) eyelashes and or prominent exposure of at least one row of teeth a la a smile that says “I’m happy as hell, Goddammit, and this picture should prove it. Dick.”

I think that’s what wigged my buddy out. Here — see for yourself. (Jenny Wright is the second girl on the left, not to be confused with the girl on the very left who is rocking a little Happy Girl Head Tilt herself. Though, to be fair, hers is less of a Happy Girl Head Tilt and more of an angle issue as her torso isn’t square with the camera, but I digress…)

Jenny Wright
But that picture’s nothing compared to the one below it. Because in that one, she’s gone off and gotten her dog in on the deal as he’s clearly going with the exact same head-tilt angle yet to a different side, one presumes, for aesthetic symmetry.

jenny wright

I should point out that my friend who declined to advance the ball after the Match.com wink is an extraordinarily shallow individual. So the fact that he didn’t respond to any type of communication from a young woman who, at least from these photos, appears to be absolutely lovely says quite a lot.

What, exactly, is anyone’s guess. But I’m certain it says something.

Maybe it says that my friend has good instincts. For if, indeed, these alleged and inappropriate relations are substantiated, and if, indeed, the user profile on Match.com was Jenny Wright (again, that’s what he believes, but who knows, right?), then she probably wouldn’t have been the greatest girl to get involved with.

One can only wonder if that very thought is currently running through Trae Golden’s mind.

I’m sure we’ll learn much more in the coming days and weeks. It’s my hope that UT stays out in front of the situation and is also as transparent as possible. Because there are a lot of unanswered questions and the VolNation deserves answers.

At least that’s how I see it.

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