Published September 1, 2011 - 8:16am
NEW: Discuss this topic in the Google+ community for SEC fans.
I’ll bet you’re probably wondering, “What’s BOKADA and who’s this CEO spouting off about the Tennessee Volunteers football team?” It’s not Mark Cuban, Steve Jobs or Warren Buffett. Allow me to explain.
For several months, as we have all been counting down the days until the return of SEC football, I have come under fire from many of my friends and colleagues for my optimism surrounding this year’s Tennessee football program. During this time, I have been on record on numerous occasions stating the Vols would win at least eight games in the 2011 season. After all, the rebuilding effort began by Derek Dooley a season ago produced six wins and nearly eight with an undermanned team with little to no depth whatsoever. My glass nearly full approach has prompted the naysayers to label me a Kool-Aid drinker. According to Wikipedia, a Kool-Aid drinker is one who becomes an unquestioning believer in some ideology, or accepts an argument or philosophy wholeheartedly or blindly without critical examination.
Recently, I fired off an email to a local sports radio show expressing my allegiance to the Vols and signed off, “Big Orange Kool-Aid Drinkers Association.” A few days later, the host, Bobby Rader of AM 640 – The Sports Monster and The Vol Network, proclaimed the acronym BOKADA. It’s pronounced, BO-KAY-DUH not Bacardi like many of you are thinking. Therefore, by default, I am the founder, owner and self-appointed CEO of BOKADA. To paraphrase the late Victor Kiam, “I liked it (Kool-Aid) so much, I bought the company.”
Now I have to admit, I love the orange Kool-Aid, but it’s not just the liquid thirst quencher that has me feeling good about the Vols. Many of the deficiencies from last year’s team that nearly won eight games have been addressed.
The offensive line that allowed a conference worst 41 sacks should be greatly improved, with four returning starters and a recruiting class that adds much-needed depth as well. The lackluster play of the offensive line also played a huge factor in the Vols finishing dead last in the SEC in rushing a year ago, averaging just 116 yards per game. Tauren Poole, Rajion Neal and newcomers Marlin Lane and Tom Smith expect to have room to run this season behind a big, powerful unit on the O-line.
The biggest void to fill for the Vols would certainly be on defense. The losses of Chris Walker, Gerald Williams, Janzen Jackson and Nick Reveiz are obviously big shoes to fill but stepping up have been a trio of 4-star freshmen in A.J. Johnson, Curt Maggitt and Justin Coleman. Perhaps a heavy burden to lay on young players, but by all accounts, these three young men are not just ordinary freshmen.
Perhaps the most compelling reason for optimism was the spectacular play witnessed of true-freshman quarterback Tyler Bray. Bray wasn’t awarded the starting role until the ninth game of the season at Memphis. The California native started off with a bang against the Tigers, throwing for over 300 yards and five touchdowns to five different receivers, and that was just in the first half! Bray would go on to lead the Vols into the Music City Bowl on the strength of a four-game winning streak. Bray was name SEC Freshman of the Week in three of his four starts to close out the season. It was a November to remember and Bray has Tennessee fans anxiously awaiting to see what the sophomore can do for an encore.
Finally, in a word, stability. After having three different coaching staffs in the past three seasons, Derek Dooley is providing steady leadership as head coach at Tennessee. Additionally, the bulk of his coaching staff from a year ago are intact as well. Dooley has the Volnation firmly behind him and the program is once again headed in the right direction.
Now that you are up to speed on this emerging, blockbuster enterprise, I would like to encourage you to join BOKADA, if you meet the stringent criteria. For fans of other programs, I suggest you start your own association, as Kool-Aid comes in virtually every color of the SEC rainbow, give or take a shade or two.
So what’s required to join such a prestigious organization, you might ask? To help you determine your eligibility at becoming a full-fledged BOKADA member, I have put together a few simple questions concerning the upcoming season for your thoughtful consideration. Please answer each question, Yes or No.
1 – Will the Vols go 4-0 vs. non-conference opponents, Montana, Cincinnati, Buffalo and MTSU?
2 – Will the Vols continue to dominate Vandy and Kentucky and lock up two SEC victories?
3 – Will the Vols end their six-game losing skid to Florida and drain The Swamp in Gainesville?
4 – Will Dooley turn up the heat on Mark Richt by defeating the Bulldogs in Knoxville?
5 – Will the Vols gain revenge for “Timegate” and gain a victory over Les Miles’ LSU Tigers?
6 - Will the Vols take down the giant elephant Alabama on the third, fourth actually, Saturday in October?
7 - Will the Vols knock off South Carolina? Hint, USC East has never beaten UT in consecutive seasons.
8 - Will the Vols prove to be true road warriors and roast the Razorbacks in Fayettville?
Let’s see how you did.
To be considered for membership in BOKADA, you must have answered, Yes, to both questions 1 & 2.
If you answered, Yes, to only 1 of the remaining 6 questions, you are not what we are looking for at BOKADA.
If you answered, Yes, to 2 of the remaining 6 questions, welcome to BOKADA. Vols tally 8 wins.
If you answered, Yes, to 3 of the remaining 6 questions, you’re after my own heart. Make that 9 wins.
If you answered, Yes, to 4 of the remaining 6 questions, you are beginning to lose me. 10 wins.
If you answered, Yes, to 5 of the remaining 6 questions, you should seek professional help. 11 wins.
If you answered, Yes, to all 8 questions, I have an island I’d like to sell you, it’s also called BOKADA. 12 wins.
So if you didn’t earn BOKADA membership, there’s always next season. For those of you who are now fully accredited, card-carrying members, welcome aboard. Whether you just occasionally take a sip or down that stuff by the gallons, there ain’t much that can beat an ice cold glass about of Big Orange Kool-Aid. Stock up now, it’s flying off the shelves.
I’ve got to have another glass, make that 9 wins, I almost forgot the bowl game.