ATLANTA — During Tennessee’s thrilling 42-41 double overtime comeback win over Georgia Tech, the Vols’ sideline was a topic of discussion.
And it had nothing to do with which quarterback was warming up.
Instead, the sideline headliner was a trash can – that’s right, a trash can that has the label HTB – “Hunt the Ball.”
Why a trash can? Butch Jones’ prop is where Tennessee players to dunk footballs after they get takeaways on defense.
Social media can mock the move all it wants, but Vols DB Rashaan Gaulden said the prop is fun there’s “just a different swagger to it.”
“Being able to have a nice dunk and all the kind of moves that we can do to dunk it in the trash can and show us being ourselves and having fun out here,” he said.
The idea of a sideline celebration makes sense; rejoice on the field and you risk drawing a flag.
Hence, the prop. Funny thing is, the prop isn’t new. The trash can was on the sideline last year, too.
But it is taking on a life of its own, with all eyes on the Vols as the only game played on Labor Day night.
— WBIR Channel 10 (@wbir) September 5, 2017
Gaulden was able to help his team get in on the dunking action against Georgia Tech.
With 4:50 left in the game, he forced a fumble that was recovered by teammate Micah Abernathy at Tennessee’s 7-yard line. The turnover was critical and the Vols drove 93 yards for a touchdown to tie the score at 28.
Abernathy raced to the sideline with the ball and dunked it into the can.
“They gave me a little foam ball to dunk in the trash can,” Gaulden said. “I guess they give it to the person that forces the football.”
— Dan Harralson (@danharralson) September 5, 2017
Linebacker Daniel Bituli also forced a fumble, his first, that led to the Vols’ first touchdown. And his first dunk.
Tennessee is not the only team to have a prop strike attention on the sideline during the opening weekend of the 2017 season. Jones said “some people act like we’re the only place in America that does things like that” and that “everybody has something.”
Alabama, Colorado and Ole Miss have wrestling title belts given out on the sideline. Virginia Tech has a lunch pail and Boise State has a hammer on the sideline.
Texas A&M displayed a drum major’s scepter.
Aggies' mood at the half pic.twitter.com/y6OnK58oI3
— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) September 4, 2017
Miami had gold chains for players forcing turnovers.
— Canes Football (@CanesFootball) September 2, 2017
Tennessee has its trash can. And it won’t be throwing it away any time soon, either.
Cover photo via Twitter @OandWReport.