Denial, meet Anger.
We've had a good run, Denial. These last few months have been great. I know you've been interested in me for a long time, you've wanted this relationship to work for probably the last several years. And after I saw you again on Labor Day, I couldn't resist.
And the truth is, you're probably better for me than Anger. I'm probably a better person when I'm around you instead.
But see, I hadn't seen Anger since I was young. She's a part of my childhood. And last night...well, I'm ashamed to say it, but she's just more attractive than you. Dressed in red and singing those songs...I can't resist anymore, Denial. I'm sure you'll find somebody else. I know some guys up in Columbus who are interested. But me...I've gotta go where my heart leads me. And right now, my heart is full of Anger. She burns in me with a crimson flame.
I hope we can still be friends.
I've got a word to describe what happened in Neyland Stadium last night:
In the last two seasons, the Vols have been beaten 59-20 and 30-6 by Florida. And now, we've been on the receiving end of a 41-17 thrashing in Tuscaloosa, and a 29-9 slow death in Knoxville from our biggest rivals.
And it's nothing new. The Vols have no running game despite every ounce of the same talent that was on the field last season. They miss more field goals than they make, pick the worst possible times for penalties...
And when they finally, finally made something good happen by leveling Javier Arenas on a punt return...it didn't matter.
First and goal at the five? Field goal. Blocked punt that gives you the ball at the Bama 32? Nothing. First and 10 at the 14 on a drive that could've given you life in the locker room? More nothing.
It's the same sad song and dance we've seen against UCLA, it's the reason the Vols were dead at the half against the Gators, it's the reason the Vols couldn't get one - ONE - first down to beat an Auburn team that looks just as lifeless, and it's the reason that Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer simply did what they do and ended us, nice and slow.
I hate watching them celebrate in our building. I hate hearing their song. I hate seeing that many of them in our student section and where our season ticket holders should be.
And I hate this:
"It was like a home game out there for us." - Alabama OL Andre Smith
I love Phillip Fulmer.
But this has to change.
Because there's no more room for Denial. You'd have to be certifiable to think that this team is good. And you have to imagine reasons that it will get better in 2009.
Getting most of the pieces back from an inept - because that's the best word to describe it - offense really doesn't mean much. And the Vols are wasting a once-in-a-generation talent like Eric Berry.
Fulmer has a losing record against the head coaches of Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU, and the ghost of Steve Spurrier.
Spurrier's Gamecocks, Vanderbilt and Kentucky are left on the SEC slate. Fulmer is 43-2 against those teams. But at this point, will it really matter if he goes 46-2 against them, and then the Vols beat Random Average Team in Random Average Bowl?
And what's worse...even if the Vols lose to Carolina/Kentucky/Vandy, a significant percentage just doesn't care anymore. We've been saying all year that you can't be this frustrated for too long, because eventually you pull the plug. Basketball season is three weeks away. And we'll gladly give our money to Bruce Pearl. Apathy is at the doorstep and knocking for many.
As for me...what I saw in there last night was unacceptable. Credit the Vols for playing hard. Credit Alabama for doing what it had to do. Credit lots of things for Tennessee simply not having enough talent to be in the same sentence as the SEC's elite right now.
But regardless of any factors, what we've seen is unacceptable. I'm furious. And the entire Tennessee Football program has to do what it has to do to make this right.