Tuesday, July 31, 2007

College Football at its Best - Tennessee Volunteers

The Tennessee Volunteers is the featured team as the last days of the College Football at its Best series approach....Joel from the blog Rocky Top Talk took some time to respond to the questions.....like me, he is a "geezer" in the blogging world.....he is currently 40-years-old....in 1996, he enrolled at the University of Tennessee College of Law and got bit by the Big Orange bug....

  • Rocky Top Talk

  • Q1. Why does Tennessee hate Steve Spurrier so much? Did you actually miss him when he coached in the NFL for two seasons?
    Steve Spurrier is
    El Diablo. He fell from the heavens of East Tennessee to the lake of fire in Florida, and as a coach in the 1990's, he was a thorn in our flesh more than any other single individual. Not only did he win, but he won badly, needling Tennessee's coach, its teams, and its fans in the process. Spurrier's line "You can't spell Citrus without 'UT,'" a dig on Tennessee's usual consolation prize after losing to the Gators, has become a pop culture reference point.

    Spurrier is iconic, as evidenced (1) by the fact that at
    Rocky Top Talk, when we discuss the South Carolina football team, we simply refer to it as "Steve Spurrier," and (2) the prevalence of Spurrier-related Hail Mary Haikus the week before the game against . . . Steve Spurrier . . . last season.
    Did I miss him? Oh, yeah. Like
    Orson once said, "we like our villains legitimately threatening," and the scarier it is out there, the more fun it is when you win.

    Q2. What is the greatest Tennessee football game that you have seen - whether it be in-person or on television? Explain the game and why it was so great.
    I'd have to say it was the six overtime game against Arkansas in 2002. It seemed like the game started just after second breakfast and lasted until the wee hours of the next morning. Not much happened the first half, with both teams doing well defensively and Tennessee coming out on top with a 10-3 lead.
    The third quarter was more of the same, and we finally started pulling away in the fourth when Jabari Davis had a really nice 58-yard TD run to extend the lead to 17-3. Breathing room, or so we thought.
    But then the drama. Halfway through the fourth quarter, the Razorbacks scored their first TD. They held us and started their next drive at their own eight yard line. On the first play, one of our defensive backs blew an assignment, and Arkansas QB Matt Jones – who looks like he's moving really slow until you realize that nobody's catching him – threw a 92-yard touchdown pass to some completely wide open receiver. Score tied 17-17. This one's going to OT.

    The teams traded field goals for the first overtime. And the second. And in the third OT, disaster struck for both teams. First, Tennessee running back Derrick Tinsley fumbled the ball, giving possession to Arkansas without the Vols even being able to attempt a field goal. The unpardonable sin in overtime. All Arkansas had to do was hit a 38-yard field goal. But . . . wobble, wobble, wobble . . . no good. He missed it, barely. On to OT No. 4.

    Matt Jones was the first to score a TD in OT, but he couldn't make good on the required two-point conversion. We then scored our own TD . . . and also missed on our two point conversion. Argh.
    In OT No. 5, we scored a TD first, but again couldn't convert on the two-point attempt, and Arkansas followed suit, scoring their own TD. When they threw it into the end zone for the two-point play . . . we intercepted it. No. 6, coming up.

    At this time, I was frantically yelling instructions to my wife over my cell phone with one finger jammed into my ear up to the knuckle, trying to get her to understand that she needed to extend the recording time on the VCR. I don't think she got it. In fact, I'm relatively certain that she thought I was calling from an interstate ditch in the throes of death. "AAAAHHHH! NEEEEED MOOOORE TIIIIIIME!" It was loud, okay?

    Anyway, Arkansas got the ball first in the 6th overtime, but we backed them up toward mid-field. They did hit a 47-yard field goal before giving us our shot, so, you know, at least they didn't fumble. But on our first play, Casey Clausen hit Jason Witten streaking down the middle of the field for the game-winning score. Once he hit the checkerboard, he stopped, pointed to the sky in jubilation, and was absolutely mobbed by his teammates. The stuff of goose bumps.

    But wait. Maybe that wasn't my favorite game. Maybe it was the five overtime game against rival Alabama. Or the 1998 National Championship over Florida State. Or the
    Rally in the Valley against LSU when Rick Clausen – Nobody's All-American – and Tennessee kicked a team while it was down in full view of its rabid fans and a sympathetic nation. There are just so many great memories of Tennessee games to choose from.

    Q3. Who do you consider Tennessee's biggest rival - Florida or Alabama? (explain)
    To me, it's Florida.
    Kyle once observed that the team that a fan generally considers to be its biggest rival often depends on either geography or age, age being the term he used to refer to the formative years of fanhood. In other words, if you were getting beat up by Alabama while you were first becoming a Volunteer fan, you'd most likely say that the Crimson Tide is Tennessee's most bitter rival. But we've mostly had our way with them for the past decade, and since I really started following Tennessee in 1996, I'd have to go with Florida, as they always seem to be between us and our dreams, taunting us mercilessly the entire time. It's evened out a bit over the last several years, including the last couple of years of Spurrier's reign of terror, but neither team has alpha-rolled the other, so it's still a mutual, seething hatred.....

    I want to thank Joel for his time.....tomorrow the Florida State Seminoles are the featured program....

    1 comment:

    Mike said...

    that tenn/ark game was fun. As a Razorback, I remember exactly where i was when richard smith was streaking 90 yards down field, to tie the game at 17