Ok, Vols fans. Raise your hand if, before the season started, you felt that there was a chance of the Vols going 3-6 in the first 9 games of the season. (Ok, bammer, put your hand down. Yes, the orange looks flattering on you, but the fake nose/glasses/mustache disguise just isn't working. Thank you.)
Yeah, you see where I'm going here.
Let's review the season very briefly, shall we?
Ok, so we lost the UCLA game. Even after recognizing that UCLA beat us with only 1 play, we still ended the postgame phase with plenty of enthusiasm. After all, we were simply shaking things out and settling into the new system. We should have expected that, especially with the cross-country flight and all. Just too many variables in play for the game to be a guarantee.
Things will get better. They're bound to. Moving on.
Then came the Blazer. Not a terrific game, but plenty of good stats to go around nonetheless.
See? Things will be all right. Just shaking the kinks out.
Never mind the passing troubles. Those will fix themselves.
Quick question: what's the fastest and safest way to evacuate Neyl....never mind.
If this is just a phase, it's an awfully deep phase. We still had some symptoms of Denial lingering around, but the Anger was becoming evident.
And that anger had a target. In a big way.
As in so many cases, anger sought out a scapegoat. Ours was named Crompton. Surely a change at the QB position would bring better fortunes. Surely somebody else could do a better job. Hey, now we're
We had our deal. In return for a new QB to start the game, we'd give the team a new chance to prove themselves. After all, the team was only 1-3; there was still a good shot at 8-4 on the season, a reasonable bowl game, and a chance to load up for next year.
Well, it wasn't pretty. But we were still in a better position than before. Surely the worst was behind us. Surely things would change. Bring on the dogs.
Ok, another big loss. Still, this one wasn't as bad, right? Stephens didn't thrown an interception. Actually, considering that UT went 1-D in the second half, his QB rating was about as good as could be expected. We just need more fixes.
Like not giving away the play before the ball is snapped. That should be easy enough, right? Let's make a deal here.
See? We're ok. It'll get better. Sure, the game started slow, but the offense really found a rhythm at the end. Our defense is still stout. There's a chance here, I'm telling you!
If we just work in more Brandon Warren, Gerald Jones (when back from injury), some Eric Berry on offense, more Hardesty and Creer, better O-line play, better temper control from Gerald Williams, less Mustang Package, improved special teams play. With just that, we'll be ok!
That's not too much to ask, is it?
We stink. We're horrible. We can no longer compete.
We just got rolled.
Neyland was half Alabama that night. The fans are gone. The team can't play as a team. It doesn't make any sense.
We need a new team! We need new coaches! We need a new AD! We need the black pill!
Yeah, that depressed.
Why bother? You know we're just going to lose. Seriously, if we didn't get the hint after Alabama, perhaps we don't even deserve the black pill.
Yup... just as we expected.
Ok, folks. Time to accept the season for what it is: 6-6 at best and perhaps odds-on for a losing season. Say it with me:
At best, the Vols are a .500 team this season.
There. You said it. It's out in the open. With that, let's enjoy the games for what they are. Games.
Oddly enough, life does not depend on them. We have treated this season with the same seriousness that some people treat the news of a terminal condition, yet it's nothing more than a form of entertainment. Let's accept that.
And let's root for the Vols. Wyoming's coming up. Then Vanderbilt and Kentucky. Win or lose, they're our team and our support is still appreciated. Let's no longer hide behind any courtesies that admitting the failure of the season is somehow taboo. The season, by Tennessee standards, is a failure. It's all right to say that.
But let's say that because we accept it, not because we're bludgeoning the team (or coaches, or fellow Vols fans, or [fill in the blank]). It's ok.
Trust me. As a Wyoming grad, I can guarantee you that the sun will still rise and that you can still enjoy the team.