One Step at a Time




In school, there was no better feeling than showing up for another dreaded day of academic drudgery only to discover every student’s favorite turn of events – the teacher called in sick. The substitute teacher is a favorite of almost every student. The assignments are easier, there’s usually no homework, and often times the rules are a lot looser. But there are always one or two students who take it too far. Perhaps they try to convince the substitute that the teacher allows them to play on their phones in class, or that lunch begins fifteen minutes earlier than it really does. Under a substitute, things can become chaotic. Regular order can become upset, and even star pupils can get a little out of line.

For a decade now the SEC East has been completely out of order. The conference has been as chaotic and convoluted as a classroom lead by a weak sub.  The booger eating kid (Missouri) and the obnoxious try hard (South Carolina) have along with a host of rejects and freaks have dominated the classroom while traditional achiever Tennessee has been stuffed in a locker. It appears under Jeremy Pruitt the tide just might be turning.

For the first time since Butch Jones’s 2016 campaign of could have beens, the Vols are bowl eligible. Head coach Jeremy Pruitt responded as only a disciple of Nick Saban could when asked what bowl eligibility means to his program, “It means we’ve won six games.”

In actuality it means much more than that. Two months ago the Vols were on the ropes, reeling from losses to BYU and Georgia State, and headed for another losing season. Pruitt and company salvaged the scraps of this season and put together a solid product.

For the first time in a long time, on any given Saturday I have faith that the Vols coaching staff is going to have our team ready to play. We are out-coaching teams. Halftime adjustments are evident, and players are developing from week to week. The coaching staff with the lofty price tag is proving its worth. It has often times felt like the football program and University are being run by clueless children who can’t seem to understand or solve the simplest of problems. There is a feeling that the adults are back at the helm.

A team ripe with young talent is developing before our eyes. The holes are evident, and the talent deficits with teams like Florida and Alabama are still noticeable, but even the casual observer would note that for the first time in a long time, this Vols team looks like it belongs in the SEC. Discipline and fundamentals are returning to the hallowed Hill.

It is true that Tennessee hasn’t really beaten any blue chip teams this year, but that’s not the point. For too long we have lived under the boot-heel of our traditional lessers. Losing to Kentucky, Vandy, Missouri and South Carolina would be unconscionable to generations of Vol fans. Before you can be counted among the purebreds, you have to be able to handle the mutts. Thus far the Vols have done just that in conference play.

If the Vols can handle abysmal Vanderbilt next weekend, they’ll cement this year as one of the all-time great comeback seasons, and be red hot heading into bowl season on a five game win streak. The program has come a long way and has a long way still to go, but it appears that perhaps order is being restored in the SEC East. The teacher is at her desk, the bell about to ring, and the rabble rousers are back in check, shooting spit balls at one another rows behind the upper crust of the conference. Go Big Orange.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s