A Diplomatic Introduction

What’s up y’all, I’m VolAmbassador and I’m new to these parts. I’ve got a bio up over in the usher’s section, so I’ll dispense with the formalities. I’d like to give you my perspective of the state of the Volunteer nation.

I’m a huge UT fan. Diehard. Like so bad, my roommate threatened to stage an intervention over my “UT addiction.”  My Pops is from Chatty and played HS ball against Reggie White. (Yeah, my dad got destroyed by Reggie White on an 48 Sweep, who’d your dad get tackled by?) Later on, he joined the Army and took the fam to Germany with him. From there we were in Virginia, so I never actually got to live in the great state of Tennessee. As a result, I’ve always been a Vol fan in exile. I know what you’re going to say:  it’s not that harsh being a Vol fan in ACC country. This was the 90s, though, and everyone hated us for Peyton. I remember how crushed I was when Nebraska owned us in the ’98 Orange Bowl and how much it sucked to deal with all the bandwagon Michigan fans the next week.

In 1998, though, I got make my pilgrimage to the Big Orange Mecca. My grandmother came into the possession of three tickets on the 50 yard-line, 20 rows back for the Kentucky game. I can still remember Shawn Bryson ripping off that 57- yard touchdown on a fullback dive. I had never seen a guy that big run that fast. That year took my fanhood to another level. From that day on, I have lived for Tennessee football.

My time at Tennessee, though, corresponded with Fulmer’s backslide. I was there when Wilhoit broke the Gators’ hearts, but I was also there when Vandy ended the streak. Fortunately, I wasn’t there for Wyoming, but at a law school that has a significant Florida population, it sucked all the same. That brings us to this year. Actually, that brings us to the circus that was the off-season.

When Fulmer got up in front of that mic, it hurt. I felt like I was Mike Hamilton and I had just told the most successful coach since the General that we didn’t want him anymore. After that, I joined every other Vol in American obsessing about who the new coach would be. My hope was that we’d get Kelly or Leach. I loved the idea of high powered offenses blowing the SEC away. It was during this time that I found the guys over at 3SiB and the fantastic preview of coaches. I saw for the first time something about the guy that Al Davis had sacked for trying to kick field goals from his own end zone. I also discovered that he could bring some yahoo named Orgeron with him. I was intrigued.

I lost sleep over the coaching change like a kid loses sleep thinking about presents under the tree. Would it be an offensive minded coach who would bring an explosive running and passing tandem? Would it be a defensive minded coach who would have players bring the rain? Would it be pro-style? Would it be spread? Would it be gimmick? Then the text came. My buddy was at his grandfather’s house and they had just gotten a call from a big booster buddy who told them it was going to be Lane. It was the only inside information I had ever received and it came 20 minutes before Chris Low broke the story.

Lane came in with guns blazing. He called out Meyer, Saban, and Richt like he didn’t care. I know there has been a lot of hoopla about the “cheating” fiasco, but accusing Meyer of cheating was one of the most significant things Kiffin will be remembered for doing. Anyone who has seen a TV show or movie involving a trial knows that dirty trick where a lawyer asks a damaging question that has nothing to do with the trial. Opposing counsel jumps up and screams objection, the judge affirms, and tells the jury to disregard the comments. It doesn’t matter, though. The jury knows the witness is dirty and trifling and they don’t listen to another word. Kiffin pulled the college football equivalent of this move. He destroyed the aura of reverence around the Keeper of the Tebow.  He called out the one man in the country who had proven he could make a game a full sixty minutes of shame. The best part is, though, he didn’t give a $*&@.

The next six months saw more media exposure for a coach who loved the limelight. We pulled a monster class that was ranked ridiculously high before we got two of the best recruits in the country in Brown and Oku. Then we went through a bland spring game that should have tempered some of those 9-3 and 10-2 predictions out there. It didn’t and the WKU game would prove to be just one more vat of Orange Kool-Aid.

If this season could get scripted and played out on Friday Night Lights, it would take that show to new heights.  I loved Phil, but I hated what Phil did. He was boring, he was dull, he was a punching bag for goodness sake! Kiffster is anything but. That guy could make a seminar on the administrative law of widget copyrights exciting.   Add Orgeron to the equation and you can understand why they have the ears of the nation’s best recruits.

This season has had some serious low points (see, last weekend), but we’ve had some great highs. Ten years from now, when we’re staring back on a few SEC Championships and a crystal football or two, we’ll only remember a few things about this season. First, we’ll remember the baller Jonathan Crompton became and how he did it in the face of death threats. Second, we’ll remember it as Bryce Brown’s first year and how he either boomed or busted from there. Third, we’ll remember the look on Spurrier’s face when he realized he had become the past and Kiffin was the future. Finally, we’ll remember the Second Battle of the Alamo the Florida game in the Swamp and the hit.

Someone once told me that the trick to getting what you want is to stop expecting it to look how you imagined it to be. Well Vol fans, I think we got everything we wanted. We have a dynamic, exciting, young head coach who’s committed to the program for the long-run and won’t take anything from anyone. We have a killer recruiting staff that has those boys at Scout and Rivals working overtime. We have an explosive offense and a monster D. We have national attention that is quickly remembering to respect us. We’re on our way to having everything we did under Fulmer, only this time we have a coach who is generous enough to tell Florida and Alabama how we feel about them.

I couldn’t be more excited as a Vol fan right now. UCLA and Ole Miss be damned. The next few years are going to be a helluva lot of fun.

VolAmbassador | Gate 21


About the Author: VolAmbassador is the (un)official voice of all Tennessee fans currently flung to the far corners of the globe. >> Read more from this author

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