By Alex Norman
A Cleveland franchise won a major sports championship.
The Chicago Cubs won the World Series.
A reality TV star will be our next President.
If 2016 has proven anything to us, it is that anything is possible.
So it got me thinking about things related to Tennessee and the world of sports. What are some things that seem to be centered only in the fantasy world that could one day happen?
Let’s light this candle.
Starting on the high school football side… did you know that the Maryville Rebels have ended every season by playing for the state championship for 12 straight years? That’s right. The last time the Rebels didn’t play for the big gold ball was in 2003, when they lost in the state semifinals in overtime at Morristown West.
It is possible that the Rebels will one day have a season in which they aren’t one of the last two teams standing. The bus could break down and the Rebels forced to forfeit a playoff game. Head coach George Quarles could get a job coaching at Dillon HS in Texas (that joke for all you Friday Night Lights fans out there). The Rebels could decide to run no offensive plays and only punt. You never know.
In the professional side, the Tennessee Titans haven’t played in the Super Bowl since the year 2000, and the franchise itself has never won an NFL title. Heck, you’d have to go back to 1961 when the Oilers were winning their second straight AFL championship to find a time when those fans weren’t depressed at the end of the year.
But maybe second year quarterback Marcus Mariota is as good as advertised. He’s certainly shown flashes of brilliance this season. At press time the Titans had won 4 of their first 9 games. 4-5! Progress! Team ownership could actually do a google search and realize that Mike Mularkey has now been a head coach with three NFL franchises and has a combined record or 22-44 in those stops and sweet Jesus why is he your head coach? Maybe the Titans should hire Quarles.
And then there is college athletics. Oh Tennessee… there are so many things that need to happen on your playing fields and in your athletic department that seem out of reach. Let’s give it a go.
The Lady Vols nickname needs to come back for all women’s sports. While for a time it looks like a pipe dream this is something that really could happen. With the tenure of athletic director Dave Hart about to end (he will step down now later than June 30, 2017), the main proponent for what has been a public relations fiasco will leave the UT campus. Whoever takes his place *cough David Blackburn hire David Blackburn this isn’t a tough choice cough* will immediately get a boost if Tennessee announces the return of the most recognizable brands in women’s athletics to all its teams.
On the field of play itself, Tennessee wins the Southeastern Conference championship. It’s been 18 years since Tee Martin, Peerless Price and Al Wilson lead the Vols to their title on their way to the BCS championship. But hey… why not Tennessee and why not in the next couple of years? The Vols have a solid stable of quarterbacks ready to take over for Joshua Dobbs in Quinten Dormady and Jarrett Guarantano. John Kelly looks to be the real deal at running back. The recruiting classes have been in the top 10-15 range since Butch Jones’s arrival, and should be there again come February. The SEC East isn’t exactly murder’s row either in terms of quality coaches. Win the division and all you have to do is one game in Atlanta. Also, maybe Alabama coach Nick Saban decides he is done yelling at the local media and his 19 year old players and wants to take another crack at the NFL. Perhaps the NCAA actually realizes that Ole Miss is a cauldron of violations and lays down penalties.
Maybe Butch Jones quits for the Purdue job and Jon Gruden comes to Tennessee. My friend said he saw Gruden at Litton’s it is finally happening you guys!
Look, 2016 has proven that the improbable can occur. Life is unpredictable. So climb aboard, fasten your seatbelt and try to get something out of the ride, even if you don’t think you will ever get to your destination.
That goes for both life and sports… doesn’t it?