Friday, June 29, 2007

Toughest Games: Top to Bottom

This entry is influenced by a forum thread over at my most common hitching post, Vol Nation. What will be Tennessee's toughest games, in order, from the toughest to the easiest? This shouldn't just consider talent, but also experience, location of the game, timing of the game, etc. It'd be neat if some prominent bloggers would step up and do this for their teams (I'm looking at you, Burnt Orange Nation, Swamp Ball, The Band is Out..., Dawg Sports, etc). I will allow (haha, right, me ... allow?) each blogger to eliminate up to 3 super easy, cupcake games from their list, if they'd like. Here is how I see Tennessee's schedule, with thoughts.

1. at Alabama (Oct. 20th)
When I predict games, I base it on a mix of statistical analysis, action analysis, and a little bit of gut feeling. This game has my gut feeling nauseous. Alabama, while finishing 6-7, underperformed quite a bit in 2006. Even if Mike Shula had returned for another season, they would have won 7 or 8 games. Add in Nick Saban plus his Super Friends coaching staff, and you add 2 games to that win total, at the least. Saban will not only bring better coaching tactics, but more discipline, respect, control, etc. Keep in mind that Alabama goes into the season with the best QB-WR grouping in the conference, on paper. This game is going to be tough, tough, tough. In all honesty, this could be a 6-0 Tennessee travelling to a 6-1 Alabama. Talk about reviving the bad blood on the 3rd Saturday.
2. at Florida (Sep. 15th)

I almost put the Gators at the 1 spot, but I think a few things play into Tennessee's hands. First, everyone knows about the new starters Florida will breaking in this season. Tennessee will be the first real offense they face. Also, nobody can deny this, we don't know how well Urban Meyer's spread option will work, week in and week out, in the SEC. This will be UF's first test with the offense in the SEC, and Tennessee has the double-edged sword gift of being the first team to try to stop it.

3. Georgia (Oct. 6th)
Plenty of Vol fans will point to the 18 point victory we had in Athens last season, and that this game is now in Knoxville. Who cares? While the jury is out on Matt Stafford, he doesn't need to shoulder the load to beat Tennessee. He has a solid stable of running backs and Joe Tereshinski won't be around. And if you've forgotten already, Mark Richt is 3-0 in Neyland Stadium. If Stafford is even moderately improved, Richt could move to 4-0 in the house the General built.
4. at California (Sep. 1st)
The Cal game is probably the toughest to accurately rank, mostly because Cal is a very tough team to predict for this season. I'm with Phil Steele on the Bears: 4th or 5th in the Pac 10, with a lot of disappointment for their fans. However, Cal will be very motivated for this game. Then again, so will our Volunteers, so I think that's a wash. Tennessee has travelled to at least 10 venues over the last 6 years that have been more hostile than Memorial Stadium will be in September. I'm more worried about the cross country flight and a new secondary than I am the crowd noise. Cal's defense won't give us fits, but their vertical passing attack will.
5. Arkansas (Nov. 10th)
This is another tough team to rank on our schedule. They completely blasted us last season, and they still have the two backs who did it to us. On the other hand, they lost 3 of their 5 bulldozers on the line (which is not all of their linemen [inside joke]), and they've been mired in an offseason chocked full of controversy and distraction. If our defensive front improves, we should be able to win this game without too much drama.
6. South Carolina (Oct. 27th)
Again, another tough one. Basically, 4-6 could be in any order. South Carolina returns an entire nation of starters, but I think our home field advantage cancels that out. In the Season of Which We Do Not Speak (reference: Rocky Top Talk), we lost to Spurrier and the Cocks at home. Our worst team in how long? 20 years? Steve Spurrier will always give Phillip Fulmer fits, especially with a senior quarterback who sweats like a hoebag in church. Be worried, but don't mess your pants - South Carolina is the SEC East wildcard.
7. Southern Miss (Sep. 8th)
I can hear you now, "WHAAAAAAT?!" It's true. Southern Miss at 7. I actually wanted to put the Eagles higher, but couldn't. If you looked up "trap game" in the Cliched College Football Dictionary (available at bookstores everywhere), you'd see Southern Miss @ Tennessee. This game comes a week after Tennessee travels to California, and a week before the biggest game of the season, at Florida. Wait, if Tennessee loses to Cal, the SMU game isn't a trap game, anymore, I don't think. But we'll win at Cal. Southern Miss is predicted to be the best team in Conference USA, and Jeff Bower always field discliplined, tough teams. Watch out guys, this one could bite us in the hindquarters.
8. at Kentucky (Nov. 24th)
I know, I know, I know - half of you reading this think Kentucky will be good again. They might be, but I doubt it. Their defense won't improve, and you cannot be successful two years in a row with a defense as putrid as theirs. Kentucky benefited from some close win variance last year, so expect a return to the mean. Will Kentucky be as bad as they once were? No. But don't expect another 7 win regular season.
9. at Mississippi State (Oct. 13th)
Another trap game - a road game, sandwiched between our 3rd biggest rival and our most bitter rival. Yuck. With Phil Fulmer's seat a little warmer than toasted bread, but not as scalding as an inferno, I could see a situation where he's Croomed. You know, a coach loses to Croom, then gets canned at season's end? It's not likely, but if it happens, things could get sticky-icky.
10. Vanderbilt (Nov. 17th)
Our last real opponent on the list. Apparently, some people think Bobby Johnson is a good coach, but I disagreed a few months ago. If Tennessee is 10-0, 9-1, or 5-5 going into this game, I'd be a little nervous, but the Commodores were comatose last season in our match up, and I don't think Chris Nickson is anything special. After Arkansas, before Kentucky, ehhhhhhhh.
11. Arkansas State (Sep. 22nd)
12. Louisiana-Lafayette (Nov. 3rd)

So, there you have it: a quick guide to our toughest games of 2007. Do you agree? Disagree? Want to belittle me? Sleep in every Saturday before the season starts? Then leave a comment and tell me.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

More Proof that Bammers are Scum

Let me preface this entry by saying that not all Alabama fans are Bammers. Bammers are the Tide's version of asshole fans - fans that don't understand that while college football is life, it really isn't. Some things are bigger than athletics, to say the least.

Onto why Bammers are scum.

ESPN's Gene Wojciechowski posted a story yesterday about the Jason Foundation, a foundation that helps children and teenagers battling with depression and suicidal thoughts/tendencies/etc. Basically, the article went in depth about how the Flatt family lost a son to suicide, started the foundation, and went to Coach Fulmer to help. Fulmer got 100% behind the foundation, helping raise donations at events, putting money in from his own pocket, and generally being the face of the foundation. You should really read the entire article.

Obviously, being a Tennessee alumnus, I am extremely proud to see a fellow Volunteer do such charitable things, especially someone with such power and wealth. You would imagine that people would respect the foundation and what Fulmer has done. NOPE!

If you head on over to, you'll see a thread started on the forums about the article from Woj. The replies start out respectful enough, I guess. However, it spiraled pretty quickly. I'll quote some of the highlights.

"As for Fullmer, I don't care if he saved 100 puppies from drowning until he does something for Alabama or admits he did wrong I hope he rots in hell." (from an ADMINISTRATOR of the site)

"Phil is a scumbag of the worst order."

Followed by ringing endorsements of this sick mindset. Things like, "This just about sums up my feelings for the fat one north of us," and, "You are correct, one at a boy does not make up for all the lying, cheating, scumbag, underhanded secret witness crap."

To be fair, some ALABAMA fans had nice things to say about Fulmer's involvement with the foundation. On the other hand, I can't imagine another rival team's message board being as harsh as this one. Bammers are classless, delusional individuals. You must realize that the charity work Fulmer, Saban, Richt, etc. do is far, far bigger than the game we love. I can't begin to fathom having football rivalries taking priority over human improvement. This foundation has and will save hundreds of kids' lives, but yet, you Bammers couldn't give a shit about that? You care more about baseless stories about "lies" Fulmer has told the NCAA. Yes, Fulmer was a secret witness in a case that was proof of your administration's actions, of which you cannot question the validity. You continue to spout on about how "Fulmer lied about Shaun Alexander, lied about this, lied about that." SHOW US, THEN! Show us something from that investigation that outlines all of "Fulmer's lies." You might find one lie, no more.

In the end, I'm disappointed that people can act like that. This is football, and while I'll sacrifice a lot of things to enjoy the game I love, I know where the game should be on my list of priorities.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Florida Gators are the Bengals of the NCAA

The Gainesville Sun is reporting that two Gator athletes were arrested last night, one of which is on the football team. Brandon James, who played punt and kick returner, last season, was arrested for drug possession.

We all know exactly what's going to happen here. He'll run the stadium steps for at 6am for 3 days.

Then, he'll sit in timeout for Florida's games against Western Alaska Tech and St. Mary's School for Cancer Survivors.

And lastly, the Monday after beating SMSFCS 60-3, Mr. James will receive the roughest spanking ever, maybe even with a hair brush, just in time to play against Tennessee.

I know this course of consequences will show Mr. James the light, and the rest of the team will follow suit. Hopefully, the entire landscape of the football universe will take notice of Urban Meyer's strict policy at the university. Our world can only get better if they do.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

I Guess It's Time ...

With less than 100 days until kickoff (90 now, I believe), it's time for this blog to start poking some fun at our opponents, mostly Cal for now. I just downloaded the free image editing software Gimp. Still have a big learning curve, but in the vain of ROFLCAT, here is a nice reminder of our huge victory over Cal last season.