1. Handicap your team's chances to win your conference championship. If your team is not the favorite, who is?
Oy. Theoretically, there's still a chance. Tennessee could win the rest of its SEC games, Florida could lose two or more of its SEC games, and Tennessee could beat LSU in the Championship game. So woo for could!
The odds of that happening, however, are roughly the same as, oh, finding an abandoned cicada exoskeleton on the side of an old oak, deciding for some odd reason to ground it to dust under your arm while playing the Star Spangled Banner using nothing but armpit flatulence and having the act spawn a chemical reaction that in precisely 42.37 seconds alchemizes to gold. Now that actually happened to me once, but I don't really expect it to happen again.
The real question is LSU or Florida for the SEC Championship. The Tigers will likely beat the Gators on October 6th in Baton Rouge, but I think there's a very real possibility that the more seasoned Gators will have their revenge in Atlanta in December for the title. So I'm going with Florida. They're good. At least I'm hoping that they're good because the alternative is a nightmarish thought to Vol fans.
2. Outline the (realistic) best case and worst case scenarios for your team.
Now why did you have to go and throw in the "realistic?" You will now be punished with a boring answer: out of Georgia, Alabama, Steve Spurrier (we don't call them "South Carolina" on Rocky Top Talk), Arkansas, Kentucky, and Vanderbilt, Tennessee can expect to win maybe four games. Best case. Worst case would be losing to all, with the possible exception of either Kentucky or Vandy, but not both, and perhaps Arkansas State to boot. Sad thing is, that's uncomfortably realistic.
3. We're only three games in to the season, but teams and storylines are starting to take shape. Compare your team to a character or theme from a fable or children's tale.
I'm going with Aesop's the Eagle and the Arrow:
An eagle was soaring through the air when suddenly it heard the whizz of an Arrow and felt itself wounded to death. Slowly it fluttered down to the earth, with its life-blood pouring out of it. Looking down upon the Arrow with which it had been pierced, it found that the shaft of the Arrow had been feathered with one of its own plumes. "Alas!" it cried as it died, we often give our enemies the means for our own destruction.
Phillip Fulmer is about to lose his job due to the expectations he is largely responsible for creating.
4. Imagine you're the coach of your team. Give three specific changes you'd implement immediately which you think would have the biggest impact on improving the team.
- We're playing Arkansas State this week, but the real rest of the season begins for us in two weeks (there's a bye week in there) when we play the Georgia Bulldogs, so consider this Saturday an opportunity for much-needed practice. We're 90th in the nation in rushing offense, an absolutely abhorrent statistic for the University of Tennessee. So . . . . I'd call nothing but run plays for the entire first half against Arkansas State. Seriously. I don't care if they put all eleven and the waterboy in the box, we're running because we need the practice.
- Tennessee has shown an unnerving inability to stretch the field vertically so far this year, and I think it's primarily because we're working with what are essentially three possession receivers. I would pick one of them, probably Lucas Taylor, and sit the other two for two of the new speedsters. Sure, the new guys haven't shown an ability to actually catch the ball when it's thrown to them yet, but how are they going to learn? Oh, and during practice, I'd re-introduce last year's tactic of making the new receivers catch bricks during practice.
- Special teams. Um, hire a consultant, because we obviously need an outsider's perspective.
5. USC, LSU/Florida, and Oklahoma have established themselves as the frontrunners in the early going. Which other team or teams are you eyeballing as potential BCS party crashers?
Hey, Cal's pretty good, too. At least I'm hoping they're good because the alternative is a nightmarish thought to Vol fans. Yeah, so it's a recurring nightmare. Anyway, conventional wisdom says that they'll fall to Southern Cal because the Trojans' defense is better than Cal's, but the Bears' offense is quite dynamic, so I wouldn't count them out.