The history of social media is a short one, but today a new chapter was written. What happened tonight in Knoxville was nearly unprecedented. Tennesseeans from all races, social classes, and political affiliations took to Twitter to blast the state’s flagship university’s hire of child rape enabler Greg Schiano.
Jimmy Hyams reported that a press conference was scheduled for tonight. There is no question it was the intention of both parties to enter into a contract and name Schiano the next caretaker of Tennessee football. The uproar from fans forced the hire to be at least delayed, and perhaps preempted it from happening at all.
Vol fan gear was piled on the ground at gate 21 of Neyland Stadium, the tabernacle of Tennessee football. Furious protestors live streamed on periscope as they chanted “Fire Currie” and “SchiaNO”. Boosters made phone calls, politicians tweeted, average Joe’s retweeted, outrage abounded. It became such a spectacle the White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders commented on the situation via Facebook.
One would think that most any decent person would understand the plight of the Vol fan. Not only is Schiano a coach of questionable talent and accomplishment, there are serious and well founded concerns that he knew about the sexual abuse of a child and did nothing about it. Alas, as usual the Vol fanbase came away from this with a black eye in the minds of big time national media pundits. Kirk Herbstreet, Dan Wolken, and others took to Twitter to admonish or mock Vol fans.
When the elites and the pundits look at Vol Nation, they see the hoard of crazy rednecks who made a petition to fire a basketball coach who took them to the sweet 16. It is akin to the way they view Trump voters: simpletons. What they don’t understand is that like the Trump voter, Vol Nation couldn’t care less what they think about it. Vol Nation relishes the scorn from the elitist outsiders, and wears it like a badge of honor.
At times Vol Nation takes it too far. The fire Cuonzo Martin petition was excessive and insensitive. Those who focus on that instance miss the broader appeal of our fanbase and the enormous boon that it is to our program. What other fanbase has 70,000 people screaming their heads off in driving rain for a 4-6 football team? What other fanbase routinely fills a 102,455 person arena for a team that hasn’t won ten games in a decade? What other fanbase recognizes 18 year old recruits on campus and makes sure they feel welcome?
The SEC’s slogan is It Just Means More. In Knoxville, it means more than any place else. Tonight, thousands of rabid fans took to the streets and the tweets and actually blocked their program from making a terrible hire. This was bigger than football, and bigger than keeping a bad guy off our payroll. Tonight the students, the plummers, the grandmas, the people faced off with the powers that be, and for once they won. That is cause for celebration.