Does father know best?

If Tennessee's basketball team is to make a turnaround in 2005-06, it apparently will make it without signee Tyler Smith of Giles County High.

Billy Smith says his son will not honor the scholarship he signed with deposed Vol coach Buzz Peterson last November. The Smiths met with new UT coach Bruce Pearl Tuesday night and requested a release. Pearl declined, so Billy Smith says his son will attend prep school in 2005-06, rather than enroll at Tennessee.

Tyler told reporters last weekend he was leaning toward honoring his UT scholarship. After conferring with his dad, however, he apparently underwent a change of heart.

The obvious question: Is Billy Smith a well-meaning dad trying to assist his son or is he a power broker trying to manipulate the situation?

Based on some highly publicized father/son episodes in recent years, Tennessee fans may be inclined to suspect the latter. Consider:

• When Brandonn Stewart was battling Peyton Manning for Tennessee's first-team quarterback job in 1994, Brandonn's dad hurt his son's cause by pestering UT head man Phillip Fulmer privately and zinging him publicly. Brandonn wound up transferring to Texas A&M after just one season in Knoxville. You already know what happened to Peyton.

• Murfreesboro native "Juicy" Locke is believed to have orchestrated the signing of his son with Alabama, Eric's subsequent transfer to Tennessee and the legal mess that ensued. Eric Locke's once-promising career eventually fizzled.

• Curtis Leak is widely regarded as the driving force behind son Chris's scathing comments about Fulmer in an ESPN diary two years ago. Fulmer wound up pulling Chris's scholarship offer and Chris wound up at Florida.

There was a popular TV show in the 1960s called "Father Knows Best." When it comes to their sons' athletic careers, though, you have to wonder.


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