I'm not sure how it makes you feel now, but at the time I remember the night the Georgia Dome burned as more than just relief. When the Vols played that well in the 2012 opener, it made us dream of very big things. Don't believe me? Don't worry, you can read about it from Joel:
Or from Brad, in an ominous post titled "Welcome to a New Era of Tennessee Defense":
Or from yours truly, king of idiot optimism:
It's the buzz, the feeling that's so addictive. Walking out of the Georgia Dome that night I was so excited I could barely stand it - not just for the win, which was awesome, but for the promise of more. When Tennessee plays the way they did against NC State, or the way they did against Cincinnati the year before, if you're like me you instantly start thinking about the next one. Which is usually Florida, where it tends to go south. But no matter how far south it goes, hope is always resurrected.
Hope is relative - I don't think anyone will be predicting 14-0 or even 9-3 by kickoff. But hope is also eternal. It cannot be killed, at least not in Knoxville.
So in 2013 it will probably be a different hope than what we experienced in the Georgia Dome last year, but it will still feel really good if we can find it. This hope starts at 6-6, the foundation and the goal for a successful start for Butch Jones. But then you start looking at the schedule, and you see names like Missouri and Auburn the way we saw names like NC State and Mississippi State and Missouri last year at this time. Nevermind that the Vols went 1-2 against those teams last fall. We'll beat them this year. Because we're Tennessee, and they're not.
So if you count all of those wins, suddenly you're at 7-5. And then you get enamored with the idea of The One Big Win, the one Derek Dooley never got, the one Butch Jones could really use in Year One. And then you start thinking about how we should've beaten South Carolina three years in a row and had our chance against Georgia in each of the last two years and both of those games are in Knoxville and look at this offensive line and aren't we just due at this point and maybe Spurrier will play six quarterbacks and I BELIEVE IN BUTCH JONES!!! And that's 8-4. And that's January 1. And that's nine wins right there baby.
And that's how it happens, every single summer toward every single fall.
Sometimes it pans out. Sometimes it burns to the ground. But it always rises. Even in a year when six wins would be truly celebrated, nothing can keep us from hope. And I believe it's a blessing, not a curse. Hope is invincible. And it keeps you coming back.