Pat Robinette (1962-65)
Aug. 11, 2011
Q: Pat, you came to Tennessee from nearby Bristol, right?
A: "That's right. I grew up in Bristol, Va. I was a Virginia High Bearcat and I graduated in 1961. I came to Tennessee as a freshman to play for John Sines. A.W. Davis, Bobby Hogsett, Skip Plotnicki, Phil French, Jerry Felty - he was from Bristol, too -- and I were all on the freshman team together. Back then we had a freshman team."
Q: You were on Ray Mears' first team, what do you remember about when he arrived at UT?
A: "When Coach Mears got here, it was like the lights came on. He was a totally different kind of coach than any of us had ever seen. Everything was highly structured. He was very motivated and brought a totally different style of ball, not only to Tennessee, but really to the SEC. He was the first in the league, except for maybe Babe McCarthy, to challenge Adolph Rupp's supremacy. We were 4-4 against Kentucky while I was here."
Q: You mentioned Babe McCarthy, he was quite a character wasn't he?
A: "He was a legendary coach down at Mississippi State. He started the cowbell tradition there. I'm pretty sure he put a skunk under an opponent's bench once. You can probably look that one up, but somebody down there was putting skunks under benches. Babe McCarthy went on to coach one of my teammates, Red Robbins, at the New Orleans Jazz in the ABA."
Q: When you look back at your career at Tennessee, what are your favorite memories?
A: "Beating Kentucky. My sophomore year we beat them twice. In Lexington that year, we came from behind 20 to beat them going away. Then in Knoxville, Dr. Andy Holt, president of UT at the time, told us before the game, `Boys, I'm bringing an extra change of clothes tomorrow, because I'm going to let you throw me in the shower when we beat Kentucky again.' And he showed up as he promised. And we grabbed him and carried him into the shower. He was great."
Q: What are you doing now, Pat?
A: "I live in South Knoxville. After UT I spent a year working for Eastman, but I had coaching in my blood. After a year coaching at Virginia Junior High School -- in my hometown -- I realized that I had to coach. I met my wife in Bristol while we were working at a summer camp. We've been married for 46 years and have four children. They are all married and gave us 12 grandchildren. I became the first basketball coach at Doyle High School in Knoxville in 1967. So I coached there for a 12 years. Then I became the principal at Bonnie Kate Elementary school and spent 24 years there. In 2004, I retired and started working part-time at what used to be Johnson Bible College. Now it's Johnson University. I teach teachers as the internship coordinator. My blood is still Big Orange."
Q: Have you met our new coaching staff?
A: "I think Tennessee basketball has a great future. I was fortunate enough to meet Coach Martin recently. I was very impressed with him. I asked him some tough questions and he gave me some great answers. I was interested to see what kind of discipline he would bring to the program. That's something I believe in. He gave me a good answer. I think he's going to be in charge and he's going and his guys will work hard for him. I think he'll be here for awhile."