Two weeks ago, Tennessee Vols head football coach Derek Dooley officially became an embattled coach. Four of his assistants had left. Charlie Baggett, receivers coach, either retired, left to pursue other coaching opportunities, or was simply not retained, depending on the source of the information. Eric Russell, tight ends and special teams coach, left to join the staff of Mike Leach being assembled at Washington State. The earth-shaker was defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox and linebackers coach Peter Sirmon leaving Knoxville in lateral moves to the University of Washington.
Alabama 21 LSU 0
Alabama arguably beat themselves in this year’s first game against LSU — presumptuously dubbed the Game of the Century. LSU went on to win the SEC championship. But on Monday night, when it really counted, Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide pummeled Les Miles’ Tigers into submission to the point where the Tigers were totally unrecognizable.
Every game is a ‘big game’ for Vol fans. That’s what makes us great fans. We care. A lot.
But Saturday’s game against South Carolina is a really Big Game. This team has made it a big game due to psychological concerns – we now have a phobia of, a neurotic aversion to, a downright fear of the Dreaded Second Half.
I had a dream about Saturday’s game…
Except for rare circumstances, I pull for SEC schools against non-conference foes. Thursday night’s National Championship game, Alabama vs Texas, played at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, was not a rare circumstance for me.
Usually, what’s good for the SEC is good for Tennessee. It brings continued pride, wealth, and the national spotlight on my conference, and some of that spotlight shines on the Vols, even when we are in the middle of the conference’s pack. Read More…
Virginia Tech 2009 Season Recap: Part I
A 7th-ranked Virginia Tech looked ahead at a potential opening loss against a strong Alabama as nothing to be worried about, even if the Hokies had big aspirations for 2009 — hoping to do more than just repeat as ACC champions. You might as well get a loss out of the way early. And a loss was, frankly speaking, expected as Tech’s key tailback, sophomore Darren Evans, who ran for 1,265 yards and 11 TDs last season, tore his ACL in preseason practice. Enter redshirt frosh Ryan Williams as Evans’ expected replacement. Read More…
Alabama made 26 first downs to Florida’s 13, and converted 11 of 15 3rd-down conversions (11 of 15!) to Florida’s 4 of 11. The Tide’s rushing yardage swallowed the Gators’, 251 to 88 yards (63 of Florida’s 88 yards were Tebow’s). Alabama’s unheralded passing game equaled Florida’s touted Tebow-to-Company wrecking crew, 239 to 247 yards. And the Crimson Tide had possession of the ball twice as long as the Gators, 39:37 to 20:23.
This was simply Alabama’s best game of the season and Florida’s worst. By far on both accounts. But why?
Perhaps Tennessee Head Coach Lane Kiffin was correct when he humorously postulated earlier this week that both teams had great players but Alabama’s were better coached. Perhaps. Read More…
We are now eight games into this 2009 season and the Vols are even for the season at 4-4. With Memphis coming to town this Saturday night – the weekly pre-game buildup will be a bit on the sluggish side – it’s an excellent opportunity to sit back and take stock in where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going. I’ve invited the charter members of the Vols in the Fall commenters to answer a series of questions on the Vols, the SEC, and the national scene. I throw my two cents in as well. We all provided comments without seeing each others’ musings. A blind tasting if you will.
Since none of us know what we’re talking about when it comes to Tennessee Football, or anything else for that matter, this should rank right up there with the professional media. As somebody once said, some things are far too important to be left to the professionals.
Attendance (Bryant-Denny Stadium): 92,012
I’m back. Somewhat rested. Still wondering what to make of it all. But in the spirit of moving forward, here’s the game recap, possession by possession.
But first, a word from our… Oops. Technical difficulties. Do not try to adjust your set. Or your headset…
Right before kickoff, it becomes apparent that the Tennessee coaching staff is discussing the possible sabotage of their headsets. Yes, it is just a coincidence, I’m sure. Faulty wiring or just a bad connector. Right. So the officials rule that both teams’ staffs must remove the headsets until the “problem is fixed.” The “problem” is “fixed” after only a couple of plays.
A red rat chewing through a wire no doubt…
A game not to be forgotten for a long time.
This old rivalry lived up to all it could be. Tennessee, a two-touchdown underdog, traveling into enemy territory. Alabama, an undefeated season in the making, ranked number one in the AP poll. A perfect setting for a blowout. Or, a memorable upset.
But instead, what happened was the stuff of legend.
Sat 24 Oct 2009 • 3:30 pm ET • Bryant-Denny Stadium • Tuscaloosa
Tennessee rolls into T-Town on Saturday, fresh from a bye week. Alabama looks invincible after leap-frogging Florida in the AP poll to the nation’s number one team. Tennessee is trying to rebuild a depleted program. Alabama is trying to build a dynasty. Tennessee’s coach is hated as a loud-mouthed fraud. Alabama’s coach is hated as a narcissistic liar. If you wear the orange, you hate the crimson. If you don the crimson, you hate the orange. Yankees-Red Sox. Lakers-Celtics. Packers-Bears. Canadiens-Maple Leafs. Manchester United-Liverpool.
For those who thought that this rivalry had lost its spark, I believe Saturday will give evidence that it is back in full voice. Whatever it is – Lane Kiffin’s request to wear orange in enemy territory, or the festering residual of Fulmer’s snitching – I haven’t felt or heard this level of disgust out of the Crimson Tide supporters over our fair Big Orange in several years. Seems like old times. Glad things are back to normal. I was afraid there for a while that we were going to make nice.
Given this landscape – if it is possible to maintain a shadow of objectivity about Saturday’s game – let me try to give a neutral perspective on what to look for on Saturday.
Bits and Bytes for a Thursday.
It’s getting close, isn’t it? Well, if you can’t wait, like I can’t, here are some bits and bytes to hold you over. But, caution. These might give you indigestion and keep you up at night. I recommend orange-tinted glasses for reading this post as a countermeasure.
We’re Vols, and we’ll show up ready to fight like hell. But you’ll get my exaggerative point after reading.
In Book II of Rhetoric, Aristotle presents the three means of persuasion : ethos (grounded in credibility), pathos (grounded in the emotions of the audience), and logos (grounded in patterns of reasoning). In this post, I’m going for the pathos, baby. So if a touch of sentimentality doesn’t grab you about the Third Fourth Saturday in October the way it does me, then wait for the next post. Otherwise, dive into this remix of Tommy James and the Shondells’ hit. It now goes like this:
Crimson and orange, over and over…
Crimson and orange, over and over…
(repeat for a total of 91 times)
A matter of the heart.
For Vol fans, Tennessee-Florida is the rivalry of supremecy for the SEC East Division. Tennessee-Georgia is the newly-christened rivalry of supremecy in the recruiting battleground of Georgia. Tennessee-Kentucky is the age-old state-line rivalry that is called the Border Battle (104 games and counting) – by the way, I miss the Beer Barrel. And, Tennessee-Vanderbilt is that bitter in-state rivalry (103 games and counting).