February 13, 2007, 7:00 EST
The Pantheon's loss to The Abomination was quickly followed by mutiny against The Leader. Tonight, armored with the orange jacket, the Hulk looks to turn the tables on The Wendigo, a "large, savage, cannibalistic monster," better known on Rocky Top as our nemesis to the North, the Kentucky Wildcats.
a.k.a. The Kentucky Wildcats
Hulk foe The Wendigo (say that out loud, it's fun!) is based on a Native American mythological creature of the same name. A huge, supernatural beast with "enhanced musculature" and a heart of ice, The Wendigo is covered with dense white fur and possesses glowing eyes and razor sharp retractable claws. It has both incredible speed and superhuman stamina.
One iteration of the myth holds that a human is transformed into a Wendigo by surrendering to the taboo of cannibalism during a famine. Another tells of a former warrior who has traded his very soul for the safety of his tribe. In either case, the resulting Wendigo is doomed for eternity to wander aimlessly throughout the countryside in search of either its former self or the other white meat. Either way, very little is left of what it once was.
Poor Tubby Smith. The second he took over the Kentucky men's basketball program, Big Blue fans cast a collective glowing eye in his direction, and minutes later they sank their retractable claws into his flesh. Smith must battle not only tough SEC opponents, but the ghosts of legendary Kentucky coaches Adolph Rupp and Rick Pitino, who are both revered by Kentucky basketball fans much the same way Alabama football fans deify Bear Bryant. Rupp concluded his esteemed career at Kentucky with an 876-190 (82.2%) record over 41 years, and Pitino finished 219-50 (81.4%) over eight years.
At some point, somebody in the athletic department must have made a deal with the devil, and the Wildcats have been searching for themselves ever since. Many fans, under delusion of an apparitional famine, give Smith the KFC ("Kentucky Fried Corpse") treatment on a daily basis despite his current
259-11 259-77 (77.1%) record. After every defeat, and after most close victories, Wildcat fans figuratively rip off one of Tubby's appendages and proceed to rip and shred and munch down to the marrow. Oh, the temerity of depriving the fan base of nightly twenty-point trounces and thirty-point thrashings!
Whether the current state of the Kentucky basketball program is due to a pact with an underlord or a fondness for flesh, the result is the same: Kentucky has been wandering aimlessly for what seems like an eternity in search of either its former self or its next scapegoat-flavored meal.
Tonight, the 'Cats' directionless roaming brings them to Thompson-Boling Arena. Vol fans are painting K-town orange and hoping to give Kentucky not a glimpse of what it once was, but rather another reason to turn on itself.
Leave your pre-, in-, and post-game thoughts below.
Go Vols! Hulk Smash Wendigo!