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Sep 24

Jai Eugene

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“Fans” Leaving Neyland Early: Fanaticism gives Dooley/Vols the final edge

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Over the last two weeks so many negative comments about our fans, our coach and our football team by our “fans”.  One of the biggest complaints was the perception that Tennessee fans were leaving Neyland Stadium too early to beat the traffic;  quitting the team when the Vols were facing adverse circumstances versus cupcake opponents.  Read the scolding from a prominent Vols message board:

Every single fan that filed out of the stadium early last Saturday is an embarrassment to Tennessee. I was disappointed in the outcome of the game, but what made me sick to my stomach was watching some of you so called “fans” roll out early. Check it out. You stay in your seat until the game is over even if Tennessee is losing by 50. You want to win games? You want the best players in the country to come to Tennessee? Then don’t bail out when things get rough. What kind of message does that send? It shows you’re a quitter. The atmosphere the fans project permeates. No one wants to represent a fanbase that quits. Next time you’re in that situation I suggest you stay in your seat until the game is over and sing Rocky Top as loud as you can when the game clock runs out. The result of the game may not turn out in our favor but by god you can let people know Tennessee isn’t going away. I really hope I’m not forced to share a foxhole with some of you in the future.

 

This last weekend we decided to visit the tailgating areas of Neyland see if this perception was true.  Here is but one pro Dooley/Tennessee story from our trip:

Knoxville — When die hard Tennessee fan Rojo Williams wasn’t playing a silly cornhole match at a tailgate on Saturday’s matchup versus the Akron Zips, he said some sensible things. Top of that list was his observation that he’s never seen his the state of Tennessee so united behind its favorite football team and more importantly rock solid with Coach Derek Dooley.

It was interesting to hear Williams, who when you scratched beneath the redneck facade revealed a diehard and proud Vol fan, speak about the support the surging 3-1 Vols are getting. The message was a clear one: it makes a difference as the Vols chase their first SEC East crown in 6 years with next step in Saturday’s pivotal tilt between the two best teams in the SEC East, Tennessee and Georgia.  Everyone knows it  wouldn’t be on CBS with Verne and Gary calling the game if it wasn’t important.

“I’ve never seen Knoxville, even the State like this in my life,” said the 45-year-old who’s experienced a bit, including a high of the SEC Championship game in 2006 and a low of losing to Kentucky last year, over his in-your-face ‘Vol for Life’ existence. “I was there when we announced that we had hired Coach Dooley away from Louisana Tech, and that was pretty phenomenal.  We were really lucky that he was looking for a new challenge. This season so far, is just another world.

“The flags and magnets on the cars, the excitement and people getting into it … the reality is we haven’t focused too much on the result, we’ve focused on the whole event of Coach Dooley and his process. For an orange blooded Vol fan like me, that’s pretty special, and I think we can probably walk away from this and learn that regardless of what happens this weekend getting behind a team that loves the their caoch and plays for the fans is huge.

“I can’t say enough – the tailgate and game atmosphere at the Akron weekend was one of the best I’ve ever been around.”

Asked if the whole crazy vibe around Vols football and Coach Dooley had tangible benefits for the Tennessee fan base, Williams nodded his scruffy face vigorously.

“When people are roaring like that our guys don’t miss a tackle, they’ve got that extra half an step in a stride. It’s just mind-blowing the noise that’s generated. It does things for you when playing that you can’t explain.

“Coach Dooley is one of the few head coaches who really knows how to recruit and develop a field goal kicker, look at both our kickers (Palardy and Brodus), we haven’t missed a beat kicking the ball. We realized right after the last Da’Rick Rogers incident that Coach’s a strict disciplinarian in spite of the fact that Da’Rick didn’t do anything wrong. Hell, a buddy told me that Da’Rick spent a month cleaning pee stains off of a police station’s restroom floor over the summer. We heard the Da’rick had over 300 yards catching the ball for Tech tonight. That really sucks for us.”

 

 It was obvious to everybody in the stadium that the Vols dominated the Gators in all phases of the game, and the Refs and Jeremy Foley’s puppet Mike Slive took another one away from us. 

It was hard to know what to make of the bizarre Williams double-act yesterday when Rojo and his slightly inebriated cornholing partner Sonny Thompson decided it would be amusing to answer each other’s questions during our conversation.

Their schoolboy humor was more puerile than priceless, and it indicated a slightly forced attempt to portray their relaxed vibe of the looming showdown in Athens. They seemed a bit agitated when I suggested that Dooley could be using the Georgia game as an  audition to replace UGA’s beleaguered Mark Richt or even jump to an NFL coaching gig.

Williams reckoned, at a more serious juncture, that it was important to get the balance right between being laid-back, yet stopping short of complacency.

“If coach (Dooley) can attract a great offensive co-ordinator to fix his offensive problems and sign a couple of top 10 recruiting classes, he can build on to his dynasty. Coach Dooley has raised the bar so high here over the last three years, I can see that’s why he would be  such a hot commodity in the NFL,” he said. “The reality is we will win the SEC East this season and next year we will the big game in Atlanta and they will name a street for Dooley in 20 years.”

“Dooley has enough talent to win the SEC East right fucking now,” added Sonny. “At times Tennessee has looked great, able to compete with any SEC team. Florida was a game the Vols could have won. This is the reason why people are so quick to question Dooley. Sal’s defense always keeps us in the game, however our lack of redzone production is the real reason why we lose or the games are tight. Everyone can come up with an excuse but Dooley has never been able to get the job done on offense. I dont see much of a future for him here at Tennessee, because he wins here we don’t have to make excuses”.

One thing the Tennessee cornholers weren’t joking about was the Georgia challenge coming:

“Last week’s performance won’t be good enough. Hey we get it. Dooley was just fucking around with Akron, trying not to tip his cards to Georgia. The Dogs be a completely different side. They’ll be possessed. They’ll bring everything. If we’re not that level or better we’ll walk away with nothing.”

It is clear that Coach Dooley is certainly in charge of this football team. Vols fans can rest easy, knowing that they have a wily coach that can will his team to a victory.

 

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Jai Eugene

Jai Eugene

No I am not the real Jai Eugene from LSU. Or as Jai is known at Tennessee as "the one that got away". I am retired Army Aviator that happens to have a blog that produces sometimes relevant Tennessee Vols content. Sure those dicks over DawgSports and the MGOBlog say we are a little "analysis challenged". Maybe it had something to do with me helping to defend their first amendment rights overseas while they were out shopping at the mall. Anyway, we have been around since 2006. Been mentioned in GoVolsxtra, Sports illustrated, ESPN, the Atlanta Journal and Deadspin to name but a few major left wing sports media that seem to think we do a pretty good job. If you have story tips, want to chat or advertise on the site contact me at loserwithsocks@gmail.com
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