Racing through the five stages of grief

Well, how was your weekend? Not good, huh? We look forward to football season in general, and the Florida game in particular, for nine months, only to find ourselves relegated to a place called Dishumiliarrassment after only the third game of the season. It's positively debilitating. But we still have at least nine more games, and whether it's the Arkansas State game this coming weekend or the Georgia game in three weeks, a game that matters is coming, and we'd better get through all five stages of grief in a hurry if we're to enjoy the season. So let's do it. Right here, right now.

1. Denial. That didn't just happen. We didn't really have possession of the ball for a grand total of 27 seconds in the third quarter. We didn't really rush for a mere 37 yards, a total of 26 yards on the ground against the Gators in two years. We didn't just get completely and utterly embarrassed by a sophomore QB, a sophomore wide receiver, a third-year BCS conference coach (for the third time in a row), and a defense replacing nine of 11 starters. And we didn't just lose to our biggest rival 11 out of the last 15 tries. And if indeed all of that is true, it's really not as bad as it seems. Football is a game of inches, and we're really only a handful of inches away from actually dominating them.

2. Anger. What? Those things did actually happen? Well, at least we've been competitive, right? What do you mean, not really? Well, why is the world against us? Aren't we the good guys? And isn't it about time to end a sentence with something other than a question mark? I mean, come on! It's a conspiracy! ESPN did this to Tennessee on purpose, and you just know they're laughing in the halls in Bristol! And we would have won that game in 2000 if the STUPID REFS wouldn't have given that TOUCHDOWN to JABAR GAFFNEY! And WHAT'S UP WITH THAT ZOOK GUY STEALING OUR PLAYS IN 1991? DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON SPURRIER. JERK!!!!! AND MEYER'S WORSE THAN HIM!!!!!!!! IT'S . . . NOT . . . FAIR!!! WE DON'T DESERVE THIS!!!!

3. Bargaining. Deep breath. Okay, God. You know us Vol fans have been through a lot, and we're not mad anymore. And we know that you're probably pretty busy hearing petitions from Notre Dame fans, but we just . . . we just can't go on like this. If we could just have, say, one more national championship this decade, then we could die happy. Send us to eternal football purgatory after that, but please, if you just let us win one more, we won't ask for anything else. At least a simple SEC championship, okay? Do this for us, and we'll never speak another word of evil against Steve Spurrier.  We won't hate on Alabama. We'll tithe 10% of our concessions revenue. We'll say our prayers and give to the poor and eat whole grain bread. Just one more. Soon. Please.

4. Depression. Never mind.. It really doesn't matter anymore anyway. Go ahead and take us now. Or not. Whatever. We really don't care whether we ever win another championship on any level in any sport. We only want to sleep. Wake us up when the pain is gone. Or not. Whatever. No matter what we do, we'll never beat the Gators. And if by some small chance we do, then we won't be able to beat Georgia. And if we actually get by both of those, Spurrier will get us, or heaven forbid, Kentucky or Vandy will somehow overtake us. But it really doesn't matter, because we have . . . well, we don't really have anything. But we don't care. What's the use of having anything anyway when it just gets ripped away from you? Better not to have loved at all than to have loved and lost. Or not. Whatever.

5. Acceptance. Okay, Vol fans. You know what? We've lost to Florida. Bad. And we've lost to Cal. We're beginning the season 1-2. But the Cal loss doesn't matter half a lick because it's not the SEC,  and the Florida game is just one SEC loss, and it was our toughest in-conference game. The Gators still have to play Georgia, South Carolina, and LSU, and out of those three games, there's at least one loss (to LSU, who we don't have to play), perhaps two. We can still compete for the SEC East. Get your head up because there's a lot of season left, and we can turn this thing around. We've done it before.

Oh, and it's almost Tipoff Time in Tennessee. So there's that.

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