By Alex Norman
2014 is in its dying stages but good news loyal readers… a brand new year is about to kick off.
Instead of waiting to see what happens in the sports world over those 365 days, I’ve dusted off the handy dandy crystal ball and found out exactly what is going to occur.
This article is mostly tongue and cheek. For the love of everything good and holy, do not wager on any of these predictions. If you do, you likely will wind up living in a van down by the river.
The Vols defeat Iowa 7-6 in the TaxSlayer Bowl, held on January 2nd in Jacksonville. Minutes after the final whistle, no fewer than 150 Tennessee fans book hotels and flights for the national title game in 2016.
Florida State wins the national championship after defeating Oregon in the semifinals and Alabama in the title game. Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston is arrested for insider training before the playoffs begin, but FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher not only chooses not to suspend his star, but promotes him to offensive coordinator.
On January 31st, Vols fans give Bruce Pearl a standing ovation as he brings his Auburn Tigers to Thompson-Boling Arena. It’s the first time Pearl has been back in the Arena since 2011, following his dismissal due to NCAA violations. Tennessee misses a golden opportunity for PR when the Buddy’s BBQ truck breaks down on the way to the game. The Vols win 49-45.
The Vols pull off a stunner when Donnie Tyndall’s team upsets previously undefeated Kentucky 76-75 in Knoxville. After the game John Calipari finds an NCAA loophole allowing LeBron James and Kevin Durant to join the Wildcats in time for their next game.
The Lady Vols basketball team loses in SEC tournament title game to South Carolina, and then falls in the Sweet 16 to Connecticut. After the game Geno Auriemma announces that his desire for the Tennessee/Connecticut series to be renewed. Lady Vols coach Holly Warlick says she is willing to discuss the idea if all games are played in Knoxville.
Tennessee’s men’s basketball team fails to earn a berth into the NIT. The Vols are told that the NCAA investigation into Tyndall’s time at Southern Mississippi will be resolved by the year 2022, unless new information comes to light, pushing that deadline to 2024.
Over 79,000 fans pack Neyland Stadium for the annual Orange and White Game scrimmage. Following a four touchdown performance (two running, two passing), Vols fans flood the message boards demanding that Joshua Dobbs refuse the 2015 Heisman Trophy out of respect for Johnny Majors and Peyton Manning.
The NFL Draft sees the Tennessee Titans select Jameis Winston with the number two overall pick. Immediately the Titans hire Jimbo Fisher as head coach. Within 24 hours martial law is declared in the city of Nashville.
Sports fans spend their time trying to get through the days with baseball, tennis and golf. It’s a dark time in which the hours pass slowly.
Practice begins for Butch Jones’s third team at Tennessee. Expectations are high for a program that hasn’t won the SEC East since 2007. Local sports talk radio shows are forced to put time limits on callers due to giddiness.
The Vols start the season with four straight wins, including an upset of Oklahoma at home and their first win over Florida in 11 years. Thousands of Vols fans greet the team upon their return from Gainesville. An impromptu rally at Tom Black Track happens, and for reasons no one can figure out, Dobbs has a rose in his teeth. Butch Jones’s name has popped up for the soon to be open NY Giants coaching job.
Tennessee crashes back to earth with losses to Arkansas, Georgia and Alabama, before righting the ship with a win over Kentucky. The Heisman campaign for Dobbs is halted as true freshman Quinten Dormady takes over at quarterback, after Dobbs quits the football team to concentrate full-time on his dream of becoming an astronaut.
Led by Dormady, the Vols finish the season with four straight wins. Tennessee’s 9-3 record (and 5-3 in conference play) is good enough to earn a berth in the SEC championship game for the first time since 2007. Tickets are going for $15,000 on the black market.
In a rematch of an October meeting, Alabama beats Tennessee 45-0 for the SEC title. Jones resigns under pressure and receives a $22 million dollar buyout. The Vols move quickly, hiring Ed Orgeron as their new head coach. Knoxville burns to the ground within 24 hours, and the University of Tennessee moves its entire campus to Vonore.