One of the fascinating developments in Tennessee Vols football has been the emergence of Tyler Bray, soon-to-be junior quarterback. As a freshman, he took the starting job away from Matt Simms for the November stretch and the bowl game. As a sophomore, he was the selected starter for the entire season. Only an injured thumb prevented him from his first full season as the number one. Could his only full season be his last?
The tagline that has been commonly applied to Bray is “a surefire first round pick, perhaps top 5.” Or, at least something similar. To make this sentiment even more dramatic, many feel that this will apply to him immediately after his junior year. Right. Bray is good enough to leave early for the pros and good enough to be one of the most coveted picks in the 2013 draft.
Former Tennessee Athletic Director Bob Woodruff was a crafty old dude. I had the privilege to interview him in his office during my undergraduate years at UT as part of a journalism project. I was researching the plans (that were never fulfilled) to retrofit the south end of Neyland Stadium so that the Vols basketball team could play a few selected home games there. This was the mid-1970s when Bernard King, Ernie Grunfeld and Co. were lighting up men’s hoops like a bonfire. The old Stokely Athletic Center was not big enough to hold the excitement of those days. All-night lines for student tickets were becoming commonplace, especially for the big games like Kentucky (that 103-98 war remains the best basketball game at any level I’ve ever witnessed in person).
I keep track of upcoming schedules for college football as they are announced. Recently, I noticed an oddity. UNLV added a game to its 2012 schedule this week, booking a home contest for September 8 against Northern Arizona. It will round out a 13-game schedule for the Rebels. Allowed? Here is what I found out, which jogged my memory a bit. It isn’t just about creating an opportunity to take program officials, coaches, players, and fans to paradise for a week.
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…
North Carolina vs. Tennessee | 30 Dec 2010 | LP Field
Music City Bowl – Nashville, TN | 5:40 pm CST | ESPN
On Wednesday, Teddy Karwacki suddenly realized that Tennessee was about to face North Carolina in Nashville the following day. That’s how strange bowl games can be to a fan – days on end that turn into weeks of inactivity, and then all of a sudden, shortly after Christmas, it’s game day. He thought he’d perhaps better set his alarm on his wristwatch just in case Thursday afternoon slipped by without a thought of turning on the television.
LSU 16 Tennessee 14
2 Oct 2010 | Tiger Stadium | 92,932Recap | Boxscore | Play-by-play | Drive Chart
LSU scored on the very first play from scrimmage and on the very last play from scrimmage. In between, Tennessee fought their hearts out and left everything they had out on the playing surface of Tiger Stadium. Except for a bizarre event on the final timed play of the game, it was enough to win.