By Alex Norman
The atmosphere at Neyland Stadium was electric.
The decibel level was at a record level.
Personally, I had never seen anything like it in college sports, as Vols fans gave everything they had, including a day or two of vocal cord quality, when Tennessee hosted Oklahoma.
The only thing missing was a victory.
And oh were the next two weeks fun. Fire the coaches! Bench the quarterback! For the love of God if Butch Jones says one more cliché! And everything in between.
You would have thought that the Berlin Wall just came down and Tennessee was the East German Council of Ministers from the reaction on social media and local sports talk shows.
Vols fans are among the most loyal in all of collegiate athletics. People still showed up when Phillip Fulmer was about to be fired and the fans base was fractured greatly. People still showed up with Lane Kiffin was high on brashness but low on recruiting ethics. People still showed up even in the depths of the Derek Dooley years, when Tennessee was losing games when they had 13 players on the field and losing games when their opponents had 18 players on the field.
But what we are seeing now is different. The angst in this town is a little bit out of control, isn’t it? (Editor’s note: This article was written before the Tennessee/Florida game. If the Vols won people are talking SEC title. If the Vols lost Knoxville has burned to the ground and none of you are reading this anyway. Please continue.)
Tennessee fans have dealt with so much heartache, so much failure and so much controversy over the past 7+ years that they feel it is finally time to return to their place among the elite schools in the Southeastern Conference.
A Vols team that was supposed to be a year away from being a factor in the SEC Eastern Division suddenly turned into a hip pick to get to Atlanta in 2015. So for this blame a bowl game victory and another top 5 recruiting class.
Look, I get it. You want the Vols to win. You spend your Saturday’s rooting for them. You spend your hard earned money to watch them play in person. Heck, you spend your hard earned money to make a donation which only then gives you the right to buy your season tickets (I still need to have this explained to me.)
So does that give you a right to be miserable? Or are you only happy now when you aren’t happy?
Maybe that is the case. I can recall some Tennessee fans being upset in 2003 when Tennessee went 10-2 and shared the SEC Eastern Division title. 10 wins!
My advice for you, over the top Tennessee fan, is this. Enjoy the games, be critical, be happy… but above all, remember that it is only a game. When the Vols lose, the sun rises the next day, does it not? I know and you know and we all know the Vols shouldn’t have kicked a field goal on 4th and a foot at the start of the Oklahoma game, but the birds were still singing the next morning, did they not?
In the grand scheme of things, sports are supposed to be entertainment, is it not? It’s something to talk about at the water cooler (if water coolers still existed), something that is a communal experience, to connect people of every sex, creed, economic status, etc.
Heck, earlier this month I got my oil changed and the dude asked me who I thought would win the SEC this year. I paused and said, “Umm, Auburn?” He told me I’d eat my words (boy was he correct!).
Tennessee fans just need to dial it down a notch. Are the Vols going to win the SEC this year? Probably not. Will they win it next year? I don’t know, maybe? Either way have fun and root on your team.
These are just games, people…