Mother Nature steps aside for UTC's Porky's Open - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Mother Nature steps aside for UTC's Porky's Open

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- University of Tennessee at Chattanooga officials waited nervously while rain flooded the Tennessee Valley over the past few days, but their patience was rewarded.

Sunshine and warm temperatures greeted UTC staffers Tuesday afternoon at Council Fire Golf Club, where the school's athletics department held its the 14th annual Porky's Open. The tournament serves as the largest fundraiser for Mocs' athletics, with all proceeds going directly to scholarships for student-athletes.

The event has raised more than $1 million since being created by local UTC supporter Frank "Porky" Kinser.

Thirty-one teams took part in this year's tournament, with Chattanooga coaches doing their best to help (or unintentionally hurting) each.

Football coach Russ Huesman manned the ninth green, where he offered a free putt for participants. Meanwhile, wrestling coach Heath Eslinger and men's golf coach Mark Guhne set up shop at the tee on the par three seventh hole, where Guhne did his best to tweak Eslinger's swing.

"I tried to coach him up, but it didn't take really well," Guhne joked. "We're just going to let him shoot single legs for awhile and keep him as a wrestling coach."

Former basketball coaches John Shulman and Wes Moore have been the past entertainment at the hole, leaving the new duo a lot to live up to. Eslinger says if he didn't fulfill the stand-up comedy portion of his job to the bar set by Shulman and Moore, he made up for it with a comedy of errors in his golf game.

"Guhne has been trying to help, but he's had his hands full," Eslinger said. "You get nervous when you prepare for something. But I didn't prepare for this, so I'm not feeling any nerves at all.

"I definitely didn't sacrifice a lot with my golf game, so today was really just about having a good time and getting to meet and interact with some new folks from Chattanooga."

Newly-hired athletic director David Blackburn was not able to play, but made a point to get face time with nearly every participant before the event started. Blackburn's first two weeks on the job have been consumed by the search for two new basketball coaches, but he told the Chattanooga Quarterback Club on Monday the Porky's Open was a "can't miss" event.

"Having my past chances to go out and grow on the external side of the athletics department, I know (the fans and supporters) are what allows us to do what we do. Period. There's no other way to cut it," Blackburn said. "Whether you're friends of the program, fans, people who by tickets or students, these are the people who allow us to do what we do."

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