The Idiot Optimist's Guide to the 2013 Season

USA TODAY Sports

A super serious preview for the super serious fan. Seriously.

What do you mean, "The kool-aid tasted like bamboo?" And you were dumb enough to drink it?

Listen, I've got it all figured out now.  Everything...everything's been leading to Butch Jones.  Butch Jones has been tryin' to get to Tennessee his WHOLE LIFE, SON.  Said so in his presser, yessir.  We should've hired him in 2008 when we had to let Phillip go, but all them suits up there at the university would'na stood for it.  We couldn't hire the guy from Central Michigan, noooooo, we had to hire a guy from Southern Cali-for-ni-a.  Shoulda known that wasn't gonna work.  Then we had to hire the guy with the famous last name.  Said britches, that fella.  Wore 'em orange ones.  I gotta pair of those too.  Paid six hundred dollars for 'em, cause you cain't get the knock-offs, you gotta get the real ones.  Had to go down there to that shoppe in the Old City asking if they was the ones I saw on the JumbaTron.  Those pants are real nice.  But I cain't wear 'em now, can I?  Six hundred dollars down the DRAIN, because our smart lawyer coach hired a defensive coordinator from AL-A-BAMA!  You and me go could out there, put on these pants, and coach a fine Tennessee football team better'en those two!  You and me could go out there nekkid and coach better'en 'em!

But no more.  No more.  I traded them orange pants for a t-shirt.  Says, "Butch Please".  That's my coach.  He doesn't ask me to spend two months rent on a pair of pants, because I have to support my coach by dressing exactly like him.  I bought this t-shirt at Wal-Mart.  Butch, Please.  Yessir.  What do you mean, he's not going to wear it during the game?  What do you think he's wearing underneath that polo?  That's right, son.

If that Mike Hamilton fella woulda just taken the time to interview Butch Jones in 2008, he woulda hired him on the spot.  ON THE SPOT!  All he'da had to do is look in his eyes.  If they'd have taken the time to look in Butch Jones' eyes, they'd have seen a winner.  They'd have seen the future of Tennessee Football.  And if it took us five years to get from Phillip to Butch, it was all worth it!  Because we got Butch, and that's all that matters.  I been going to church much more these last five years, cause the Lord hasn't been hearin' my prayers for the Vols, and I know that's been my fault somehow, cause he's the Lord.  And at church they been talkin' about sufferin', and I been sayin' amen.  But no more.  The sufferin' is over, boys.  My wife says I can't wear my Butch Please shirt to church, but either way I know the sufferin' is over.

Now, I won't lie to you boys:  I've spent most of the summer in a coma.  Someone told me we had the number one recruiting class in the country, and I hit the floor and lost two months of my life, gone.  Gone.  I...I just...well, my doctor says we're not supposed to talk about 'cruitin.  So we won't talk about it.  I just sorta blacked out when I heard them rankins on VolQuest or 247 or whichever site I was on, because my body and my brain couldn't process it as fast as my heart did.  But when I came out of that coma, first thing I asked about was whether Jalen Hurd had gotten his fifth star.

But they're tryin' to keep me upright, so we can't talk about 'cruitin.  I cain't pass out again and risk missin' the season and lettin' the team down.  Besides, forget all that talk about 'cruitin, we're gonna win NOW.  I know everybody's been trying to use that rebuildin' word, but around MY house that's a four letter word.  And there's five letters in BUTCH.  PLEASE.

And don't tell me Butch has been encouraging fans to embrace the process - that's a Saban word! - and be patient.  He's just settin' y'all up!  Butch Jones is a master assassin, son, and he's gonna sneak up on Oregon all nice and quiet, pretendin' to be poor little Tennessee from the east, please don't hurt us, AND THEN BAM, we unleash a sixty point whippin' on them and the rest of the college football world.

Thank goodness that Bray kid is gone.  I mean, yeah he threw for a billion yards, but I didn't like the look in his eye, and Butch didn't neither, or you know he woulda made him stay in school.  Instead we got four kids back there, one who set a national high school passing record, one who Butch 'cruited while he was at Cincinnati, he's so smart, one we stole from Alabama, and one who wants to get his major in a word I can't pronounce but know it means he's going to pick a defense apart with surgical precision...er, engineerical precision.  Whatever.  Kid's gonna be an astronaut or something after he graduates and finishes second for three Heismans, good for him.  Quality kid, the kind I like to see in the program.  Makes us all proud.

Look, it don't matter what kinda offense we run!  We got the best offensive line in college football!  We got two starters returnin' at tailback!  We're just gonna run for seven, eight, nine yards a carry and throw when we get bored!  Them boys will have all day back there to find open receivers, and hoo boy, do we have receivers!  Pig Howard!  Jason Croom!  That North kid!  What do you mean, none of them have ever caught a meaningful pass?!  Have you seen their 'cruitin' rankins?  That's all that matters, Butch Jones knows that!  It's all about 'cruitin.  Butch Please.  'Cruitin 'cruitin 'cruitin...

...

...

...oh, sorry, I started to black out for a second there.  Sorry, I say that word a lot.  Doctors were sure I was saying "Gruden" at first.

And on defense, you know who we got?  NOT SAL SUNSERI, that's who!  The McCullers kid is back, he weighs a metric ton, whatever that means.  Curt Maggitt and Brian Randolph are back after Coach Dooley let them tear their ACLs last season.  And son, we got A.J. Johnson in the middle.  It's over.  He's gonna get thirty sacks while playing offense and scoring seventeen touchdowns out of that wildcat nonsense.  Hey, you and me could run for a touchdown behind this line.

They keep sayin' the schedule is so tough, but I don't understand.  We start with a feller named Austin Peay, which is a presumptuous name to give a child if you ask me.  We'll humble him.  Then we play a football team with Kentucky in its name, so I don't care who the head coach is, we'll....wait, it's Petrina?  Bobby Petrina?  Hey, we got lots of good looking girls in East Tennessee and plenty of places to ride your motorcycle.

So that's 2-0.  Then we play at Oregon, and they only reason they beat us so bad three years ago is it started raining and we lost our momentum.  They lost their head coach, and we know when you change head coaches you have to be terrible for five years.  That's the rule!  So we'll beat them.  S-E-C!  S-E-C!  S-E-C!

Florida?  I'm telling you man, Florida's no good!  I know they beat us by three touchdowns again last year and we haven't played them within two possessions in seven years, but I'm telling you, they're no good!  I know they won eleven games last year, but son, they. ain't. no. good.  Will Muschamp remains the guy who turned down the Tennessee job TWICE...but that's okay, because all roads lead to Butch.  And all roads lead to Butch out-booming that feller in Gainesville.  We're gonna win.  They're no good, I'm telling you.

And look, Georgia and South Carolina?  We'd be 5-0 against them our last five games if we'd taken better care of the football, or, you know, if our head coach was anyone other than DEREK FREAKING DOOLEY.  But that's okay.  All roads lead to Butch.  And you're gonna tell me Butch Jones and Neyland Stadium ain't worth a couple points in both of those games?  That Clowney fellow?  Tiny Richardson, son.  We're gonna win the East.

And then there's Bama.  We have a deep respect for Alabama 'round these parts.  I know this game should once again be one that makes the General and the Bear proud.  I'm thinking we'll win something like 3-2 this year, because that's what they would've wanted.  Also, I had some fellers down in Athens do one of them Jedi mind tricks on Saban when he was there earlier this year, because the Lord helps those who help themselves.

Then in November, it's our personal revenge tour/victory lap.  You know why Missoura beat us last year?  Derek Dooley.  You know why we ain't beat Auburn since 1998 1999?  Dave Clawson, Lane Kiffin, DEREK DOOLEY.  And I figure we owe Kentucky 25 more years of punishment for every one game they win against us.  What's the transitive property on us beating their basketball team by 30?  We beat them in football by 3,000?

And boys...that just leaves Vanderbilt.  I ain't never seen a sorrier effort than what I saw in Nashville last year.  But we all know why that was.  That Dooley feller, he brought shame on us all, most of all gettin' us beat like that by that Jim Franklin guy.  But not no more.  No sir.  Butch Jones is gonna walk right up to him in the pregame and punch him in the face.  No handshakes, no hey how's it going, just BAM!  ANCHOR DOWN!  Right in the face.  Because that's how it's gonna be from now on with Vanderbilt.  All the 'cruitin they been doing ain't got NOTHIN' on the 'cruitin we been doin.

So anyway, that's the path to 12-0.  Then since Derek Dooley already took the Georgia Dome down with him, we gonna roll right into Atlanta and beat whoever they put up against us.  Only question about that game is which jersey combination are we gonna wear.  I been callin' every Wal-Mart in town every hour on the hour askin' if they got a shipment of them new unis in yet.  Soon as they do, I'll have 'em all.

And then, I mean, who do you want to play for the National Championship?  There's Kiffin, of course, but I feel like he's the easy answer.  And we already know he can't coach.  There's Ohio State and Corch Meyers, but against a team from this football conference I don't feel like that's a challenge either.  You know who I want to play?  Louisville.  Show that Charlie Strong feller a thing or two about saying no to this university.  Ain't none of those teams no good, 'specially compared to us, but they've got such an easy schedule I figure they'll probably make it there.  And then we're gonna run the score up on them, way worse than the 60 points per game we've been averaging all year.  Way worse.  Because when you turn down Tennessee, Tennessee remembers.

Anyway, all these games just get in the way of more 'cruitin.  So yeah, we'll probably win 'em all this year, maybe squeak one out against Bama or somebody, but just wait.  Wait 'til we get this legacy class in here, son.  Then?  Then...then we'll probably get bumped up in classification and go fight the Patriots and the Cowboys.  Hey, you think they'd let Gruden call our games?  Seems like a conflict of interest to me.

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, boys.  It's orange, and it's beautiful.  14-0, National Champions.  Butch, please.

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