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Well, Vol Nation, I feel badly addressing you after such an absence from the blog. Really don’t have an explanation other than to say the blog became more work than we had anticipated and with Jacob and I trying to graduate at some point it just became too much. However, in the wake of this Kiffin mess, I’ve got to write this, for my own sake. Read if you want.

The sky is falling here on the UT campus. I was part of a riot last night for the first time in my life. I saw my fellow students inexplicably climbing statues. One guy threw a road cone and hit a girl in the head. Neyland Stadium was close to being rushed by an angry mob. A few who led the charge made it into the stadium and safely snuck out after the cops arrived. We are just upset, man.

Pride is a factor. We are Tennessee. We aren’t used to being a stepping stone, and that’s exactly what Lane Kiffin has made us. I think it’s that more than any thing. Basically, we’ve been emasculated, because our football program is an absolute mess now. It’s not that we’ve lost Lane Kiffin; it’s the state he left us in. We don’t have a permanent school president right now. Our AD, Mike Hamilton, stuck his neck out to hire LK, and who knows how secure his job is right now. Reports have been circulating all morning about Phil Fulmer having been contacted about becoming AD or possibly the football coach again. All this three weeks before signing day. Shoot me now.

With all that we’ve lost, we need to look at what we have. We have Neyland. We have Peyton. Al Wilson. The Miracle at South Bend. A January night in Tempe. Basically what we have is the past. As Chris Walker said last night, “We are Tennessee today and tomorrow, next year. We are going to be Tennessee no matter what coach is going to be here.” And while it is something, keep in mind that current recruits were in elementry school when we won our national championship. Their image of Tennessee is the mediocrity that we have endured the last ten years. History is great, but we have to create new history.

Opposing fans, if you’re reading this, I’m sure you’re laughing. That’s fine. I really don’t give a rat’s ass what you think. I don’t need you. I don’t need sympathy from anyone. I’m a UT student. I’ve got 20,000 others just like me going through the exact same thing, and a whole state with us. We are Tennessee, and that means exponentially more to me than anything I’ve ever said about Lane Kiffin.

That said, I loved Lane Kiffin. Jacob loved Lane Kiffin. Anybody who read this blog knows. It makes me sick to say it now, but I loved what he was doing. I still believe he would have turned Tennessee into a winner. One of the things I loved about him was his professional approach to the game. With the staff he had, he was that caliber coach. The guy that could throw punches with the Sabans, Meyers, because we are that level of a school. We’ve got the tradition, the history; football is huge here. And with all our fan base has endured over the past few years, we thought we had the guy to get us back to where we want to be.

Oh well.

What Kiffin has done will set us back. We’ll lose tons of recruits. Michael Taylor, Brandon Willis, Delvin Jones, and Calvin Smith have been the first of an eventual list that at worst will contain names like Markieth Ambles (maybe USC, Florida), Jujuan James (Georgia, Alabama, maybe LSU) or Jacquez Smith (LSU) and best case scenario will still contain five to eight more guys. We may not get a good hire this time. We need to make a splash but is that coach really available at this point? Can we get Muschamp? Will a guy like Edsell, Calhoun or Peterson really be enough to satiate a fane base that has seen two head coaches in 14 months? Tennessee football may be down for a while.

But we’ll be back.

At some point, we’ll be back. We’re too good to stay down. There’s too much passion here. Too much pride. Too much love for it all to stay down. Our basketball team just did one of the most remarkable things I’ve ever seen in sports, and there’s no limit in my mind to what Tennessee can be.

So here’s your pick me up, Vol fans. Times are dark right now, but you don’t have to look very far to see an example of a program overcoming devastating NCAA sanctions and their coach skipping out in the middle of the night for a “better job”. Alabama, once on the verge of the death penalty, is now the best college football program in the country. And they are in a position to remain so for a very long time. Things will get better Vol fans. From Memphis to Savannah, Union City to the ‘Boro, Nashville to Lexington, Shelbyville, Columbia, Chatt-town, McMinnville, and all of EAST TN, sing it with me…..

Rocky Top, you’ll ALWAYS be, home sweet home to me….

WE ARE TENNESSEE

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As bad as it pains me to write this post, I feel like I should write it. Any time something like this happens, most peoples’ first reactions are just that, reactions. I’ve let it simmer for a little while so I can be as rational as possible. A lot of you guys will probably disagree with me; that’s just the nature of the beast, but I ask you to read this with an open mind. Read the rest of this entry »

Anybody can be a Tennessee fan; there are few requirements. Really, all you have to do is love Bluetick coonhounds and a unique shade of orange called PMS021. I might also add that you should know whether corn grows on Rocky Top or not, and maybe that you should be familiar with girls that are half bear, the other half cat. It helps if you’re from the state of Tennessee. I would strongly contend that no town in the state, Memphis included, cheers for any team more than the Vols. How many other big-time college football programs have that kind of stranglehold on their state? By my count, there are a possible five: Penn State, Georgia, Nebraska, Arkansas, and LSU. This one of my favorite things about our state, that no matter where you go in Tennessee, you’re in Big Orange Country. If you’re a Vol from West Tennessee like me (731 whut, whuuut) you might have never even sniffed UT’s campus. Then again, you might have spent hours upon hours here as a student. With this thought in mind, I’ve snapped a few autumn images around campus and compiled them here for your viewing pleasure. Every individual UT fandom is a beautiful thing, so soak these in however you will. Read the rest of this entry »

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Photo: Amy Smotherman Burgess, KNS

Tennessee’s coaching staff has been celebrated from its earliest moments by both fans and the media. For several different reasons, the staff has a sort of star quality. For one, there’s the obvious appeal of Lane Kiffin coaching with his father (shades of Junior Griffey knocking back-to-back dingers with Senior). Read the rest of this entry »

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I suspect there are very few Tennessee fans unhappy with the Volunteer football team right now. In nine games this season, Kiffin’s boys have done what was rationally expected of them. They’ve been competitive against good teams, they’ve beaten similar ones and pounded lesser ones. The UCLA and Auburn losses still sting and it’s frustrating to think that the Vols are that close to being a nationally ranked 7-2 contender. Still, look at the progress.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Photo Courtesy: Adam Brimer, KNS

 

Halloween was in the air this weekend around the Strip/UT campus area, and it was a nice setting for a big couple days for Volunteer football. A win over Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks was sweetened by good news on the recruiting front. Read the rest of this entry »

I have to believe that betting men all over the country are taking the Vols -5 points on Saturday after last week’s near upset of Alabama on national television. If that line proves to be correct, you can count me as one who’ll be very surprised. It’s a huge game for Tennessee because we’re still in dire need of an impressive win. I think Georgia was huge, but nobody was talking about it outside of the Southeast. The Gamecocks are ranked 21st in the AP Poll and the national ESPN audience gives Kiffin a great opportunity to capitalize on the buzz he’s generated with close games against Florida and Alabama. Read the rest of this entry »

It sucks to lose. And it really sucks to lose to Alabama. And it sucks even worse to outplay them, be in position to win, and still lose. Read the rest of this entry »

As the middle of the college football season is upon us, the SEC is an eclectic league with three contenders, a bunch of middle tier teams and a few resident door mats. Big games this past weekend that could have postseason implications as the season progresses. With the Third Saturday in October (even though its not) and the LSU-Auburn cat fight on the horizon, the SEC’s two best teams seperated themselves on Saturday. Read the rest of this entry »

Fellow Vols, it was cloudy in Knoxville on Saturday, but inside Neyland Stadium, it was as beautiful as it has been in a long time. Tennessee was dominant, pounding Georgia for the second time in a row at Neyland. It was just one of those games where everything clicked; even on the Vols’ opening drive, which stalled and ended in a punt, Tennessee looked like a different team. As big as the Auburn game was, Georgia was huge for the Vols’ season. Almost decisive. Going into a bye week, UT will look to get rested and prepared for Alabama. A few things they’ll take away from the UGA game tape: Read the rest of this entry »