Published November 24, 2010 - 2:37pm
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Let me preface this post by saying that I do not hate everything about the state of Tennessee. I actually love several things about my good neighbors to the south. I love going to Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg and getting my putt-putt golf, go cart racing and airbrushed t-shirt fix on. I really love the fact that you can’t drive more than two miles without finding massive amounts of fireworks at discount prices. I love Nashville and walking the same streets that Hank Williams walked. I love Memphis, where Rock’n’Roll was born at Sun Records with Elvis, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis. All of that and I haven’t even mentioned Jerry “The King” Lawler.
But there is one thing in particular that I can’t stand about 16th state in the union: The Tennessee Volunteers. Why you ask? Well, there is no need for me to beat around the bushes and pretend that is has nothing to do with a 25 game losing streak the Vols. It has everything to do with that losing streak.
I am no stranger to futility. I have been a lifelong Boston Red Sox fan and Cincinnati Bengals fan. I am used to pulling for a loser. But at least the Red Sox and Bengals have given me reason to celebrate at times in my life. But each season when I drive through McDonald’s and pick up my Kentucky football schedule poster, I start breaking down the season. I find the sure wins like Akron, Western Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Louisville and Charleston Southern. Then I look for the for sure loses like Florida, Alabama and sometimes LSU. Then I start crossing my fingers for games we could win like Auburn, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State. And then I go through the painful process of looking to the Saturday after Thanksgiving and convincing myself that this year is the year. Each year I am usually wrong.
So after I over indulge myself with turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, cream style corn, rolls, green beans, pie and whatever else I can find on Thanksgiving and then I participate in my second favorite contact sport (Black Friday Shopping), I will load up and hit the road Saturday morning for the 3 hour drive down I-75 to Knoxville for the season finale. Is this year the year? I don’t know. I do know that I will see more orange on Saturday than in a Filipino prison during a Michael Jackson tribute. I will hear that bloody Rocky Top so much that I will wake up in the middle of the night and put on my coonskin hat and eat some corn from a jar. (Yes, I know the lyrics to Rocky Top. For your information, the songwriters were from Georgia and the group that made it famous is from Kentucky)
It will be fun and the three others I am traveling with will have a great time. We will probably eat a lot food, tell a lot of stories and maybe even smoke a few cigars (Illusione 888 for me). But what would make that day sweeter than any other would be to see Randall Cobb go into the shadows of his own home and trample all over those ugly, stinking checkerboard endzones. How great would it be to end the longest consecutive losing streak in all of college football, beat Tennessee and eliminate them from bowl contention? It would make for the greatest post-Thanksgiving Saturday I can remember over the last quarter of century.
So, now you know that I hate Tennessee (and really, they are the only SEC team that I wouldn’t cheer for if they were playing anybody else. I would seriously cheer for Ohio State and Louisville to beat Tennessee) and you probably want to know why I think this year is the year. Well, it’s really quite simple: Because this ain’t last year.
Our offense is good enough to cover up for our defense. Cobb, Derrick Locke, Mike Hartline and Chris Matthews make it nearly impossible to keep the Cats from scoring in the 30’s. If we can hold on to the ball and not give Derrick Dooley’s squad a bunch of early Christmas gifts, we can keep the ball long enough to stop them from scoring.
Kentucky will be without a couple of starters on defense. Mark Crawford has been dismissed from the team for reasons unknown and Martavius Neloms will have to sit the first half for his punch party against Vanderbilt (so in essence, he should be fresh down the stretch). Still, Danny Trevathan will be on the prowl looking to behead Tyler Bray and give Matt Simms a chance to play. Either way, UT needs this win to get bowl eligible and everybody in Knoxville will be asking Uncle Daddy if he can get them a ticket. The crowd will be rowdy the Vols will be hungry (and probably also smelly thanks to their lack of personal hygiene – according to their coach, not me) this could be an absolute blood bath. But the leaders of this Kentucky team are prepared for a bloodbath. Especially Hartline. He’s been there and knows how to handle it.
I closing, I would like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and make sure you know that football is just a game and we have a lot to be thankful for here in America and down south. Please have a safe and happy turkey day and please, please, please don’t let me have to write this same piece about hating UT again next year.