A final look back at the 2008 season, quick-like, because pain should be fast.
Up today: Kentucky.
The final home game of the season is always special because it's Senior Day, and time is set aside to honor those who have devoted four or five years of their lives to the Big Orange. This day was even more special, though, because it had been dubbed Phillip Fulmer Day, and we'd also be saying goodbye to a guy who'd devoted decades to Tennessee football.
While so many others were more focused on the coaching search, bobo_the_vol penned the winning weekly Hail Mary Haiku, an ode to The Papa:
Some remember Phil
For the past couple of years
And forget the good.
Me? I barely know
Of Manning, the Golden Age
of UT football.
I will always see
"And pandemonium reigns"
When I think of thee.
It seemed destiny
When "he stumbled and fumbled",
We held the crystal.
Seek Phil’s legacy
In the eyes of his players
Game Ball goes to Phil.
We won the game against Kentucky, but it mattered only because it provided some little bit of joy in a season full of sorrow:
[T]here it was, the happy ending. Coach Fulmer smiling. Gerald Jones and Jonathan Crompton racing straight for him as the clock cleared to zeroes so that they could have their opportunity to embrace him and tell him again how much he means to them. A host of players dumping the Gatorade over his back. A bigger host of players in the colors of both schools huddled together at midfield with Fulmer telling Erin Andrews and ESPN to just hold their money-grubbing horses for a second because we're gonna have our prayer -- it's Tradition, don't you know. Fulmer then answering the inane questions with all of the class and honor and integrity you have come to expect from him, saying not that the administration was wrong -- although he surely believes that they were -- or that his record suggests that he should have been given an opportunity to remedy the problems with the offense -- although he most certainly believes that it does -- but remarking simply that he "will always be a Vol."
And then there were Ramon Foster and Anthony Parker heaving Fulmer on their shoulders and carrying him off the field in a moving mass of welling-eyed, 200- and 300-pound players in a manner fitting a man who has devoted his entire career to the betterment of the Tennessee Volunteer football program. And there was that man, who had struggled against anger and tears three weeks ago, now riding high on the shoulders of his beloved players, smiling from ear to ear, carrying the game ball high and tight, just like he always taught his players whether they listened to him or not.
The curtain has closed. The house lights have lit. Perhaps it should not have ended this season, this game.
But regardless of whether it should have ended at that time, there can be no doubt that it should have ended that way.
Up next: A final recap of the 2008 season.