Normally, I don't have much trouble finding something to say after a game. Topical themes appear naturally during the game; emotions find their expression; words flow from fingers to webpage. Today, I've been sitting at my computer for nearly an hour trying to figure out what to say. Well, more accurately, how to say it.
What I Always Wanted
Growing up in Wyoming, there was one inevitable truth about the Cowboys football team. They would play a superior team closely - perhaps even outplaying them - for 3 quarters and get utterly destroyed in the other quarter. Usually that "other" was the 3rd quarter, but it was sometimes the 4th or 1st. (For some reason, it never seemed to be the 2nd.) That's what I expected today. Even at halftime, I assumed that UT's superior talent would enforce itself in one quarter and win the game for the home team.
I always wanted Wyoming - just once - to play a full 4-quarter game against that superior team. They did it once against UCLA in the Las Vegas Bowl, and they did it again tonight. The childhood part of me is thrilled for the team. But did it have to come against the other team I love?
What I Wanted Tonight
I wanted Tennessee to win. (No, I did not predict a Wyoming rout. If you need to know, I didn't even get a chance to vote before leaving for the game. You can look it up in my profile, even. [sticks tongue out at Graysnail] (-; ) I wanted Wyoming to play well enough to earn respect, but I wanted Tennessee to keep a shot at a bowl game alive.
What I Saw
The Vols were flat. I don't know what any of the players or coaches may have said, but I firmly believe that the Monday announcement adversely affected the team today. I think that they would have played a better game if Fulmer's status was still in doubt right now. Was that enough to explain the loss? Who knows. To a certain degree, it doesn't even matter: a loss is still a loss.
Wyoming played a solid game. They have one very talented running back (Moore) who is undoubtedly one very tired and sore guy right now. They have a freshman quarterback who is smart enough to throw away the ball when the receiver is not open. They have a defense that plays very solidly and, for once, did not spend nearly 40 minutes on the field. The talent doesn't match Tennessee; even in a loss, that was clear. Tennessee was faster and stronger, but their heads just weren't in the game. Wyoming was more focused, and that made the difference.
Since there was absolutely no rivalry or conference pride at stake today, everybody was completely civil that I could see. The Wyoming fans got a real thrill out of hearing "Cowboy Joe" played during pregame, and that'll make for some great cooler conversation back in that square state. (That sort of thing will make UT fans in Wyoming, for what it's worth.) I saw UT and UW fans shaking hands and giving mutual respect afterwards.
I also saw the ugly side. Methinks the students are not happy that Tennessee season is not going well. A few hints: don't bother hitting the bleachers with your fist - the bleacher always wins; no matter your feelings about the guy, booing Crompton as soon as he steps on the field isn't going to help the team play better ( you can always boo later on if you really have to); and to the guy who found hyperbole by pouting that "even Appy State would have beat Wyoming", why beat yoruself up any worse over it?
During halftime, I was stopped in the concourse by one misty-eyed Vols fan who was evidently sober enough to see the brown in my jersey, but drunk enough to miss the orange. He poured out his heart about how badly this season hurt and how tough it was, then leaned back against the wall to cry for a while longer. (Dude, I feel your pain. I was serious when I said there's a lot to look forward to.)
This win just might be enough for Joe Glenn to stay onboard as the Cowboys head coach. There is a lot of discontent over the last several years in Wyoming, but they are already paying on the buyout of a few coaches, and I don't know if they have the margin to buy out another this year. This win just might be the excuse they need to shelve the issue for a bit. (That's not meant as solace, but it is intriguiing in context.)