The Tennessee Volunteers haven’t had the opportunity lately to partake of the decades-old cigar-smoking tradition surrounding its annual “Third Saturday in October” game against Alabama. The Crimson Tide have won the last 13 meetings between the two teams in a series that kicked off in 1903.

Late in Saturday’s game, with the result appearing to be well in hand, ESPN analyst Todd McShay and sideline reporter Molly McGrath decided to get in on the tradition themselves.

In McShay and McGrath’s defense, they were simply having a little fun after what certainly was a long day and weekend in Tuscaloosa.

Naturally, Vols fans — and even a Nashville news anchor (and Tennessee grad) — didn’t see it the same way, and took to Twitter to blast the network for anything from perceived bias toward Alabama to a complete and total lack of class.

One can only wonder if Tennessee, who hasn’t beaten the Tide since 2006, had itself gotten the win and ESPN’s commentators were still smoking cigars. While the argument in favor of ESPN having a cozier relationship with Alabama than it does other teams in college football ranking as an age-old debate, the network apparently felt that McShay and McGrath were doing nothing wrong here and likely won’t do anything in the way of disciplining the 2 personalities.

Read More

Sports betting in Tennessee officially launched on November 1, 2020, and many of the largest sportsbooks are live and operating in the volunteer state. Tennessee is only one of a handful of SEC football states with legalized sports betting.