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This Week's Roundtable is hosted by:


Vol Junkies



This week’s Big Orange Roundtable is hosted by Vol Junkies Buy Macrobid Without Prescription, , who has served up another installment of questions burning in the minds of the citizens of Orange Nation.


Thus, here are our thoughts for the week:

Week 4


1) What is your thought on Eric Berry’s Heisman chances?  Should he play on offense in-order to increase his chances?  Is Kiffin being to selfish saying Berry will not practice offense?


bullet HSH: I'm not exactly how real Berry's chances of actually winning the Trophy—which I deemed meaningless after the Manning debacle.  Not only does he have the obstacle of being a defensive player, he has to basically beat Colt McCoy from Texas, Sam Bradford from Oklahoma and some guy named Tebow.  I don't think Lane Kiffin should play Berry on offense just to help his Heisman chances.  If our offense is seriously sucking, then sure, desperate times call for desperate measures.


That said, I have absolutely no problem with the University doing the whole campaign thing.  Berry is obviously a special, once-in-a-while player with a great attitude.  Seeing him in person on and off the field the past two years has been something I'm glad to have been a part of—now if only he might consider staying for his senior year...



bullet Lawvol: I have very mixed (albeit not necessarily negative) feelings on this.


First of all, I personally believe that Eric Berry is more than deserving of a shot at the Heisman Trophy.  In two short years he has pretty much become the man-beast of SEC defenses and is, hands down, the best defensive player in the toughest conference in the country.  I personally believe that he is the best defensive player in any conference, anywhere.  That, however, is just my opinion and I will be the first to admit that I am biased.  Still, there is no arguing with the fact that Eric Berry has earned the right to be considered among the top players in the country this season and to be considered for the Heisman.  I am unequivocally behind the Tennessee’s campaign to promote Berry’s Heisman candidacy.


That said, I am less that optimistic about his chances…


I say that because, since only one truly defensive player has previously won the Heisman—which I am sure every Tennessee fan remembers all too well—the precedent is somewhat weak.  Furthermore, given the national media’s love affair with Tim Tebow, I expect that every possible machination that can occur to ensure Tebow winning the trophy for the second time will be brought to bear, if at all possible.


There is also the fact that exaggerated hype often leads to less-than-stellar performances since, with everyone talking about how great a particular player is, the target on their back gets even bigger when facing opponents.  That is not to say that I doubt Berry’s ability to produce in the same way he has in the past, but recognizes that opposing teams will be gunning for him … and staying away from him.



As for whether I think it is selfish for Lane Kiffin to keep Berry from playing on offense, that one is easy to answer.  No, not one bit.  In fact, I feel the opposite.  To me, changing the way you field a player for the sole purpose of advancing that player’s interests is selfish—even if it adds prominence to the team or the program as a whole.  As the old saying goes, “there is no ‘I’ in ‘team’.”  In my opinion, any coach with a Heisman hopeful should treat that player in exactly the same way he would any other player.  To do anything else not only flies in the face of the team concept, but can be woefully dangerous in terms of its effect on team morale—just ask Heath Shuler and the Tennessee offensive line that played in the 1993-94 Citrus Bowl.


Were Kiffin to decide independent of the Heisman race that Berry needed to play on offense, I would have no problem with it, in fact it might be extremely exciting.  To do so just for the sake of Heisman balloting, however, is simply not something I think is acceptable.


Furthermore, I question whether suddenly playing a player in a new position would actually help or hinder the chances of winning voters’ eyes.  This season is filled with change already—from top to bottom.  Berry, just like everyone else on the Vols’ squad, is busy learning new schemes and concepts from the new coaching staff.  Furthermore, the sheer size and scope of the playbooks for Tennessee is really quite staggering.  I have heard from a reliable source that, up until 1997, no offensive player in the modern era had ever learned the entire offensive playbook until Peyton Manning, and he only accomplished that feat as a senior.


To me, adding a whole new facet—offense—to the game for Berry would likely result in a fall-off in his performance on defense.  It adds one more thing that he has to keep track of in his head and doubles the already considerable pressure that being pumped as a superstar brings with it.  In then end, I think there is probably more to lose than there is to gain.

2) Do you think Kiffin secretly wishes he would have held onto Taj Boyd?


bullet HSH: Nope, not all, for two reasons.  First, as we all know, Kiffin's a confident fellow.  He has his plan, he knows what he wants and how he wants to go about it.  And he believes in what he's doing.


He evaluated Boyd, saw that he might have lacked pure arm strength and that he made have had some issues coming off knee issues.  So he told Boyd what he told him.  I think Tennessee's in good shape with Tyler Bray and they might get Memphis' Barry Brunetti to switch his commitment to West Virginia, and the recent run on WR recruiting, what QB wouldn't want to come to Tennessee and throw to those guys?



bullet Lawvol: Well, whether he does or doesn’t, is really irrelevant now.  What is, is.


That said, I doubt that the Blackjack General, has given more than a few seconds thought to the matter considering his staff and this no-holds-barred approach to recruiting.  I am sure that Boyd probably appreciated the honesty from Kiffin in telling him that he simply didn’t feel that Boyd would fit in the Vols’ system.  I know I find it refreshing.  Either way, like HSH, I feel certain that Kiffin will find the right person and it’s not like the Vols haven’t started to get looks from some good players.  After all, though we do not yet know how a Lane Kiffin-coached team will perform on the field, he has made it clear he knows how to recruit.  Furthermore, trying to make a player work when they really are not suited to your system just leads to disappointment for everyone involved.


I say get the right player for Tennessee, even if that means waiting a bit.  I for one am glad to see that Kiffin is willing to do just that.

3) Is this the most excited you have been for a football season to start EVER?


bullet HSH: In recent memory, yes. Maybe 2006, Macrobid over the counter, Purchase Macrobid online, because I had just started school up here in Knoxville and the big opener with Cal and Florida coming in two weeks following that. Perhaps 2005, Macrobid blogs, Macrobid cost, because of all the hype and that defense and the "momentum" from the previous season.


But this is different.  It seems like it's been a year since Kiffin was hired and we went through the staff hiring and the coups on National Signing Day, the verbal slap of Urban Meyer and the secondaries.


Now it's go-time.  Everything's going to be new, fast shipping Macrobid, Macrobid long term, so that adds a bit of intrigue to the whole thing, but the energy Lane, purchase Macrobid for sale, Buy Macrobid online cod, Monte and Coach O have brought certainly have had their effects on the players and us as fans.  Amidst all the energy though, we have to remember that Tennessee's not going to win the SEC this year.  This isn't going to be a one-year turnaround and we have to be a little patient, Macrobid gel, ointment, cream, pill, spray, continuous-release, extended-release, Macrobid schedule, prepare for some of the usual pains and just enjoy the climb.  The Vols have 8 home games this year, so hopefully the fans are ready to do their part in helping the team.



bullet Lawvol: That’s a tough question to answer.  For me, discount Macrobid, Buy Macrobid without a prescription, the most exciting pre-season run-up to kickoff in my lifetime was getting ready for Peyton Manning’s senior year in 1997.  The Vols were picked to be stellar and were ranked in the pre-season top-3 in all the polls.  It also happened to be my senior year in Knoxville.  I suppose I would still say that there was more “excitement”—in the sense of there being a real belief on the part of everyone that the Vols might win the whole thing—in 1997.  If we are talking about just sheer anticipation because you simply have no idea what to expect, then I would have to say that this year is on top.


Of course, ordering Macrobid online, Macrobid maximum dosage, it is worth noting that in 1998 I had very low expectations of what Tennessee would do prior to the season getting under way.  What with Manning graduating and a virtual unknown named Tee Martin starting his first game at quarterback, I figured that the Vols would probably find rough going for at least the first few games of the season.  That season, get Macrobid, Macrobid use, however, turned out pretty well for the Vols.


Either way, buy cheap Macrobid, Cheap Macrobid no rx, I am always stoked before the first kickoff and it seems to increase exponentially as the first game approaches.  There is so much to be excited about this year and—no matter what happens—I feel like this will be a good year for the Vols as they progress toward the future.


After all, a lousy football season is better than no football season at all…

4) A quick diversion from football and onto Basketball, Macrobid mg. Buy Macrobid from mexico, Do you think that Bruce’s style of basketball is a deterrent to the one and done type players, due to the fact one and done-rs and top recruits are looking for more minutes and to be  the center of attention?


bullet HSH: I don't think it's Bruce Pearl's style as much as it the fact that we're Tennessee.  Just to be brutally honest, taking Macrobid, Where can i cheapest Macrobid online, if you're a a high school kid who has obvious NBA talent, wouldn't you want to showcase that on the biggest stage possible?


I know Bruce has taken our program to heights it's never been before and I hope he never leaves Knoxville.  But we're still Tennessee.  I know Michael Beasley went to play in relative obscurity at Kansas State and still managed to be the second pick in the draft, rx free Macrobid, Macrobid trusted pharmacy reviews, but the point still remains, at least in my mind.


We're not near the top of the list of schools a future NBA star and one-year college player is going to go to increase his stock.  On top of that, Macrobid from canadian pharmacy, Macrobid reviews, there are all of two ex-Vols in the Association right now—C.J. Watson now in Orlando and Marcus Haislip just signed by the Spurs.  Watson wasn't drafted and Haislip has spent the last few years in Europe after being a bust of a lottery pick.


The bottom line to me is this: our prestige has gone up exponentially the last four years under Pearl, Macrobid pharmacy, Macrobid dosage, but we're still Tennessee, and we still aren't exactly pumping out NBA players a la places like Carolina, order Macrobid online overnight delivery no prescription, Buy Macrobid online no prescription, Texas, UCLA, effects of Macrobid, Buy generic Macrobid, Kansas, UConn, Macrobid no rx, Macrobid no prescription, Memphis State and so on.



bullet Lawvol: Frankly, I hope it is because I have little tolerance for the one-and-done mentality.


Most of the “in-and-out, australia, uk, us, usa, Where to buy Macrobid, thanks-for-the-cred, see ya!” type of players are not the sort that I want to see Tennessee recruiting.  The whole “student athlete” thing should still mean something.  I am dedicated to Tennessee and have been since the day I decided that I would attend college there.  I expect the players we put on the floor to be not only be great athletes, is Macrobid safe, After Macrobid, but also good representatives for the university, and good people.  I am not naive enough to believe that all the players we recruit are completely free of the ulterior motive of wanting to play professionally and perhaps using the Big Orange as the springboard to making that a reality.  I also will freely acknowledge that I can hardly blame a player for leaving early when they are all but guaranteed to instantly become wealthy.


All I ask is that the players wearing the orange be committed to Tennessee while they are here, online buy Macrobid without a prescription. Order Macrobid from United States pharmacy,   I have no problem with them dreaming of the future or making decisions based upon that future.  What I do have a problem with is when players simply see Tennessee (or any other school for that matter) as little more than a way to get their ticket punched as quickly as possible.


But then again, I am a lawyer and am generally a disagreeable sort…



The Rest of the Roundtable:


Having wasted your time on our largely meaningless and insignificant thoughts for this week, go check out what the other roundtablers (who actually know what they are talking about) have to say (in no particular order):


-- So it goes …Email lawvol No McAlisters and About Home Sweet Home... … to me.

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SEC Power Poll Ballot: Week 13

Check out the Full Poll Results at Garnet and Black Attack!

Week 13

Through 22 November 2008

Well, there were only four games in the SEC this weekend, thus, I have very little to say about some of the teams that took the week off.  Be that as it may, here's my ballot for this week in the SEC Power Poll, along with a feeble attempt at explaining why I'm such a moron.

In all its radiant glory:

Rk.

Team

Comments

1.

The Alabama Crimson Tide did not play and spent the weekend quilting.  I really doubt, however, that this minor lapse in focus will matter considering Auburn is likely toast this weekend anyway.

2.

C'mon guys, the Citadel?!  Have a heart...

The Florida Gators face the Florida State Seminoles this weekend before getting ready for the Tide in the SEC Championship Game.

I bet there is nothing in the world that Bobby Bowden would like more than to spoil the Gators run.  Too bad it isn’t going to happen.

3.

The Georgia Bulldogs did not play this week, but face the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets this weekend.  A win against the Ramblin’ Wreck all but makes the Dawgs a lock for the Florida-House-Capital-USA-Tangerine-Comp-One-Citrus Bowl, or what ever the hell they are calling it these days.

4.

The Ole Miss Rebels have come out of nowhere to beat two Top 25 teams, and nearly beating a third.  As a result, they have rocketed toward the top of my ballot.

Now, if they can just win the Egg Bowl, they’ll have put together an 8-win season, which is impressive considering how lousy they were last year.

I bet Arkansas is wishing they still had their "Nutt" now…

5.

The South Carolina Gamecocks did not play, but this week will face kissing-cousin the Clemson Tigers.  The Cocks need a win to really call this a good season.  Clemson needs a win to maintain respectability.

My money is on the Ole Ball Coach…

6.

The Kentucky Wildcats had the week off, and now look to face the Vols in Knoxville.  The Cats desperately need a win to improve their bowl hopes.  Can the Wildcats break the streak this weekend?  Good Lord, I hope not!

7.

I really hated to see the Vanderbilt Commodores lose, but then again I'd have hated to see the Vols lose more.

Either way, this has been a successful season for the Dores, and at least there's a chance a bowl (which more than my Vols can say).

8.

Wow, the LSU Tigers' season has gone straight into the toilet.  I suppose a repeat championship is out of the question.

9.

Nice win for the Tennessee Volunteers against the Dores, in a season where every win is a "nice win."

Can the Big Orange send the Great Punkin out with a win?  He surely deserves that small courtesy.

10.

CLANG!  CLANG!  CLANG!

Yes, Virginia, there is a CowBell Claus, and after the bell banging Mississippi State Bulldogs got his gift and managed to barely squeak past Arkansas 31-28 this past week, his job is done and he's decided to go get drunk until next year.

Their Egg Bowl battle this week with the Rebels, however, doesn’t look as promising.

11.

Sheesh!  Pre-season, I had the Auburn Tigers winning the West.  That's the last time I base make picks based on which coach has the strongest hair gel.

The Iron Bowl this weekend could get really ugly.

12.

So much for slowly improving...

I guess the Arkansas Razorbacks have probably met the expectations most had for them this season—namely floundering about.

The Rest of the Power Poll

Now that you have wasted your time looking at my ballot, go check out what everybody else is saying over at Garnet and Black Attack, where the final poll results will be posted Wednesday-ish.

-- Go Figure …Email lawvol


Flashback: The Great Games — The All-Time Top 10

Flashback | Gate 21

Well, as Joel pointed out, the News Sentinel’s Dave Hooker recently came out with his Top 10 games in Tennessee football history. It is an interesting list, but (like Joel) I’m not so certain I agree with all of the games on Hooker's list.

Given the fact that I am still making my way through my "Great Games" series, it seems appropriate for me to chime in with my thoughts on this. At the risk of rendering some of my future posts in this series futile (not that they aren’t already), here is my top 10 games in Tennessee football history (with comparison to Dave Hooker’s ranking):


The Great Games | Gate21.net

Gate 21’s Top 10 All-Time

FB-00-Tennessee[1]

Tennessee Football Games


No. 10: 1989 - Tennessee vs. UCLA

The Rose Bowl | Dave Hooker Rank: Unranked

I know that some will question this one, but this game still stands out to me as one of the best. I toyed with ranking the 1985 Auburn win at No. 10, but I have to go with the Vols 1989 trip to Pasadena to take on the Bruins. This game was early in the season, and at that point UCLA was highly touted. Tennessee had been beaten in both their prior trips to the Rose Bowl to play the Bruins (1975 and 1967), and many thought they would repeat that trend as the Vols came off of their worst season in recent memory, and a close call in their season-opener versus Colorado State. The Vols, however, stepped-up to the challenge and proved that their 5 and 6 record for 1988 was only a bump in the road as they came out gunning for the No. 6-ranked Bruins. The Vols completely shutdown the UCLA offense with their own brand of SEC defense, en route to a 24 - 6 victory. That game set the stage for the rest of the season -- one which included 10 more wins and only a single loss. The Vols would go on to win an SEC Championship, beat Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl that year, and end with a No 5 ranking.

Still, by my mind, it all started in California...


No. 9: 1999 Fiesta Bowl - Florida State vs. Tennessee

Sun Devil Stadium | Dave Hooker Rank: No. 1

Dave Hooker had this game as No. 1, but I cannot in good conscience give it that distinction. While the 1999 Fiesta Bowl did give Tennessee its first Consensus National Championship since 1951, the game itself was not nearly as spectacular as others that season.

First of all, both Tennessee and Florida State played very sloppily throughout the game as a result of the more than 4-week layoff leading up to the contest. Second -- in fairness to Florida State -- they were playing with a back-up quarterback, Marcus Outzen, who (to my knowledge) never started another game after the championship, due to the injury to Chris Weinke.

Finally, the game was exciting, but probably only if you were a Tennessee or Florida State fan. The reason for this is that the two teams were extremely closely matched at most positions. All of that said, I have such amazing memories of this game and of finally seeing another championship for the Big Orange, that I have to include it in the Top 10, regardless of its flaws.

After all, a championship is a very special thing...


No. 8: 1939 - Alabama vs. Tennessee

Shields-Watkins Field | Dave Hooker Rank: Unranked

Obviously, I did not attend or watch this game. Still, the legendary status of this game lingers even today -- as does pretty much everything about the 1939 squad. I know this is hard to imagine in the modern era, but the 1939 squad not only went undefeated, but they also completed the entire regular season without being scored upon. Think about it this way, from the third game of the 1938 season until the conclusion of the 1939 season, Tennessee played 71 consecutive quarters without allowing a single point -- a record which stands to this day. The 1939 game against Alabama was but one of the legendary battles of this era between, then, Col. Robert Neyland’s (he would be promoted to the rank of Brigadier General during World War II) Vols and the Crimson Tide. In the minds of some, however, this is the game that truly cemented the rivalry and led to the designation "The Third Saturday in October."

Led by Johnny Butler and George Cafego, Neyland’s Vols managed to out-run, out-block, and out-wit the Tide in a 21-0 victory. The "feather in the cap" for the day came on Johnny Butler’s 56-yard run to the endzone in the 2nd-quarter. This was the last Tennessee-Alabama game that Neyland would coach until his return from military service in 1947.

Johnny Butler's Run

Click to view a RealMedia clip of Johnny Butler’s Run versus Alabama Courtesy of the VIB
An Oldie, but a Goodie...

No. 8: 1992 - Florida vs. Tennessee

Neyland Stadium | Dave Hooker Rank: Unranked

For all the reasons I described in my post on this game, I really feel this was an extremely important game in the history of the program. Ignoring all of the side issues surrounding this contest -- the Faxgate affair, Johnny Majors' heart problems, the deluge of water that fell during the game, etc., I really feel this was a watershed game (no pun intended). First of all, it was the first of real battles between Tennessee and Florida during the Steve Spurrier era. Second, it was the first conference home game ever coached by Phillip Fulmer.

By my mind, this is the game that ushered Tennessee football into the modern era, and set the stage for all of the excitement during the 1990’s.


No. 7: 1996 Comp USA Citrus Bowl - Tennessee vs. Ohio State

Citrus Bowl Stadium | Dave Hooker Rank: Unranked

Some might think this game an odd choice, but as I made clear in my article on this game, it really was one of the best games for Tennessee in the history of the program. Tennessee and Ohio State both came in ranked 4th (albeit in different polls) and both were disappointed that they did not manage to make it to a top-tier bowl. Both teams had a chip on their shoulder as they battled throughout a rain-soaked game. Tennessee held Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George to a season low, and fought to the end to win the day. This win, propelled Tennessee to a No. 3 final ranking -- putting them ahead of the Florida Gators who had given the Vols their only loss of the season.

This game established the momentum of the program for the seasons to follow. In my opinion, this game was a key step toward a national championship.


The Stop

No. 5: 1959 - LSU vs. Tennessee

Shields-Watkins Field | Dave Hooker Rank: No. 6

I agree with Dave Hooker that the win against Billy Cannon and the LSU Tigers ranks among the all-time greatest games. No one thought Tennessee really had a chance in that game, and -- on paper -- they were right. Billy Cannon was the man-beast running back of his day, and was fearsome for his ability to shred defenses. On most days, when the 1959 Tigers played they put on a clinic. The iron wall of orange-clad defenders , however, shut LSU down and did a little teaching of their own. After fumbling the ball on their own 2-yard line, and giving the Tigers an easy six points, the Vol defense found a way to save the game. Their goal-line stop as the Tigers tried for the 2-point conversion probably ranks as one of the all-time greatest defensive plays in Tennessee history (See stop-frame image, right).

Here’s former Voice of the Vols George Mooney with the call.

[audio:/LSU-1959-01-F.mp3]

(click play to hear audio)

When it was all said-and-done, the Vols came out on top in a 14-13 thriller.


No. 4: 1982 - Alabama vs. Tennessee

Neyland Stadium | Dave Hooker Rank: Unranked

bama82ticket[1]This game was the final step in Johnny Majors’ rehabilitation of the Tennessee program from the doldrums of the late 1970’s. Before that win, the Vols had not beaten Alabama in 11 deplorably long years. After more than a decade, Tennessee finally managed to beat the Tide in the 35-28 Victory. The fact that it occurred during the waning days of the 1982 World’s Fair made it all the more special. This also marked then end of the Bear Bryant era, at least as far as Tennessee was concerned, as Bryant would never again coach a game in Neyland Stadium -- passing away in 1983.

majors82bama[2]

This game single-handedly returned Tennessee to its position as a year-in-year-out contender in the SEC, and re-asserted Tennessee’s tradition of winning.

Before this game, Tennessee was a second-tier team in the minds of most, that changed on "The Third Saturday in October," 1982.


sugarpgm86[1]

No. 3: 1986 Sugar Bowl - Tennessee vs. Miami

Louisiana Superdome | Dave Hooker Rank: No. 5

Ahh, the Sugar Vols. No one thought the 1985-86 Tennessee squad really had a chance against the No. 2 ranked Miami Hurricanes. The Vols, however, decided to make everyone remember them as they pounded Vinny Testaverde and the Hurricanes on both sides of the ball. While this game was played in a neutral venue -- the Superdome -- it really amounted to being played in "Neyland Stadium South" as the Big Orange faithful traveled by the thousands to cheer on their underdog Vols. This game single handedly elevated Tennessee to a "national" status as Tennessee destroyed Miami 35-7, in the Big Easy.

Here’s John Ward calling "yet another" great play by Tennessee -- namely Chris White’s 4th-quarter interception for a touchdown.

[audio:/Sugar Vols 01.mp3]

(click play to hear audio)


ND 1991

No. 2: 1991 - Tennessee vs. Notre Dame

Notre Dame Stadium | Dave Hooker Rank: No. 7

There really isn’t much that needs to be said the game referred to simply as "The Miracle at South Bend." It still stands as the single most significant non-conference regular-season game the Vols ever played. While some would point to the victories over Penn State in 1971 and 1972, those were played in Neyland Stadium, which gave the Vols the huge benefit of a home crowd. In 1991, however, the Vols had to go on the road and play the No. 5 team in the country. The reality is that Tennessee was beaten in this game by the end of the first-half. The fact that the team and the coaching staff never gave up and kept fighting stands as a testament to the 1991 squad’s character. It still stands as the greatest comeback in Tennessee football history, and serves as a monument to Winston Churchill’s adage "Never, Never, Never Give Up!"

Furthermore, the final play of the game as called by John Ward stands as one of the greatest (albeit somewhat botched) calls of his storied career.

[audio:/ND-1991 01.mp3]

(click play to hear audio)
Don't you just love John Ward?


No. 1: 1998 - Florida vs. Tennessee

Neyland Stadium | Dave Hooker Rank: No. 2

Having just written about this game (reliving it in my mind along with the voices in my head) I still come to the conclusion that there has never been a more exhilarating and exciting game played at Neyland Stadium -- at least not in the modern era. This game was an absolute defensive slugfest from start to finish, and after the game was over, I was physically and mentally exhausted -- I cannot imagine what the players felt like. While I do have the 1999 Fiesta Bowl listed in my Top 10 as well (No. 9) in my opinion this game was the high-water mark for the 1998 team. This was the game that defined the team and the season. Winning the game against Florida completely changed the mindset of everyone in Orange Nation -- suddenly we all believed that a championship was possible.

Thus, even though you don’t get a trophy for winning a home game during the regular season, in my opinion, this was the Vols’ finest hour.


Well, there’s my list. Feel free to tell me I’m wrong (as I so often am)...

-- Go Figure …Email lawvol


Images Courtesy of: The VIBKnoxville News Sentinel
Audio Clips Courtesy of: The Vol Network, Host Communications, and the University of Tennessee.
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Flashback: The Great Games — The 1996 Citrus Bowl

Flashback

The Great Games | Gate21.net

1995-96 CompUSA Citrus Bowl

(1 January 1996)

Tennessee Football vs. FB-OhioState[1]

Tennessee 20 Ohio State 14

Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium

Continuing on with 1995, after beating Bama soundly and ending the 10-year drought against the Crimson Tide, the Tennessee Volunteers finished out their regular season at 10-1. Their only loss coming at the hands of the Florida Gators in a 62-37 drubbing which tarnishes the 1995 team’s otherwise exemplary record. Tennessee finished the season ranked 4th, but in the days of the so-called Bowl Alliance, the "premier" bowls were reserved only for conference champions, thus, Tennessee received a bid to the "first outside the money" CompUSA Florida Citrus Bowl to take on the similarly situated Ohio State Buckeyes, who lost their last game of the season against arch-rival Michigan, and with it the Big 11 10 title, and ended the seasons ranked ... uhh ... 4th also.

1996 Florida Citrus Bowl

Cover from the Official 1996 Citrus Bowl Program. Ohio State later sued the bowl committee for omitting "THE" (in all caps and 72 pt font) from their name -- the matter was ultimately resolved in a settlement whereby Ohio State received a case of oranges and an autographed photo of Mickey Mouse.

The fact of the matter remains, no matter what either school would claim publicly, neither Tennessee nor Ohio State wanted to be in Orlando on New Year’s Day. Both had completed 1-loss seasons, and both came within a half of playing for the National Championship or, at a minimum, playing in one of the top-tier Alliance Bowls. Ohio State wanted to be in Pasadena and Tennessee in New Orleans or Tempe. Regardless of what they wanted, they were set to play one another in a game which -- in my book -- ranks as one of the best bowl games I’ve ever watched in person or on television.

Ohio State came in smarting from the late season wrench Michigan had thrown into their "destiny" to play in the Rose Bowl. Despite this failing, Ohio State running back Eddie George had won the Heisman Trophy only weeks before the game in Orlando -- which made them feel a whole lot better about having their entire season implode in Ann Arbor -- as it did so regularly under then coach John Cooper.

Tennessee on the other hand, found itself on the outside looking in as Florida waltzed into a date with the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Fiesta Bowl. In retrospect, however, Tennessee is probably glad it didn’t make the trip to Tempe, since Florida took it the hard-way in a 62-24 slobberknocking by Nebraska, which led Steve Spurrier to ask in a halftime interview, "Can someone ask that scary man with no facial expressions and his corn-fed boys to stop hurting us. Please... "** Still, at the time Tennessee was highly disappointed at being left out of the big one, and all they had gotten to make them feel better was a few free passes to Disney World courtesy of the bowl committee.

By the time the teams, fans, alums, bands, and hangers-on arrived in Orlando, both had several weeks simmer and let the bowl slight fester.

One thing that became immediately apparent to me when I arrived in Orlando was that many Ohio State fans had very little respect for Tennessee. Now this is not meant as an indictment of the entirety of the Buckeye Nation, but at the time it seemed that Ohio State not only felt that they had been slighted in terms of bowls, but also in terms of opponents. In the interest of full disclosure, it is worth mentioning that my better half is an Ohio State graduate and -- when not playing Tennessee -- I pull for the Buckeyes. Still, at the time, in all of my interactions with Buckeye fans during the run-up to the New Years Day game, it seemed that Ohio State was assuming that they would simply show-up and beat Tennessee handily.

In all honesty, at the time, I thought they might be right...

Tennessee had turned the early-season disappointment of getting absolutely slaughtered in the second-half at Gainesville versus the Gators (which is right near the top of my all-time least favorite games), into something really special. Still, there was a lot of uncertainty about how the Vols speed would match up with the strength and running ability of the Buckeyes (where have I heard that one before?). While I was never one to open doubt that team, in my mind, I felt there was a distinct possibility that Tennessee could lose ... and badly.

There was so much going on that week, in preparation for the game, that I didn't have too much time to worry about it ...

If you’ve never been to a game, you really should go, at least once. They can be one hell of a lot of fun, and are wonderful experiences. I must say, despite the misgivings surrounding the 1996 Citrus Bowl, it is (and remains) one of the best run bowls anywhere. Regardless of whether Tennessee and Ohio State thought they deserved to go elsewhere, the City of Orlando really knows how to host events, and they do a bang-up job when it comes to the Citrus Bowl (now known as the CapitalOne Bowl). There are more events, parades, parties, pep-rallies, and so forth than you could possibly attend (unless you actually have to play Rocky Top till you’re blue in the face at each one, that is). In the days leading up to the game, I had a blast ...

... at least that’s what everyone tells me.

At any rate, after several beautiful sunny days in the high 70’s, New Year’s Day arrived, and the weather that day -- more or less -- reflected the physical and mental states of many who had "Given Their All for Tennessee" in the New Year’s Eve Debauchery category. It was foul. The temperature had dropped, and it rained incessantly throughout the 12 hours leading up to the game. By the time I arrived at the Citrus Bowl, along with 350 of my dear friends (the Pride of the Southland Marching Band) it had already been determined that the bands would not be permitted to perform their pre-game shows as planned, because the field -- just like those New Year’s partiers -- just wasn’t up to it.

So, there we sat -- all 70,000 football fans, clad in Orange or Red Ponchos -- in the rain, waiting for the mud to start flying...

The game started and Ohio State scored first, taking a 7-point lead over the Vols, in the first quarter, who were really unable to get things going on the offensive side of the ball. During this time, every time the Buckeyes had the ball all that could be heard was a constant chant from the Buckeyes of "Ed-die, Ed-die, Ed-die, Ed-die!!!" which, got old real fast for Tennessee fans. I also thought that the other 10 guys on offense for Ohio State -- out there busting their hump as a team -- were probably getting tired of it as well.

Then, in the second quarter, Ohio State drove down inside the 5, and looked as if they might add to their lead, putting Tennessee even farther behind. The Tennessee defense, however, held, and Ohio State was faced with 4 and goal. Rather than kick the field goal, the Buckeyes chose to try and run it in on the legs of "Ed-die" and put the game out of reach for the Vols. When the snap came, however, it was Tennessee’s Bill Duff who grabbed the spotlight -- and the momentum in the game -- as he clotheslined "Ed-die" a good yard behind the line of scrimmage and trounced him down to the grass.

At that moment, the entire complexion of the game shifted, and Tennessee began to stretch its legs...

Soon thereafter, Tennessee was on the board with as Jay Graham rumbled 69 yards to knot the score at 7. Peyton Manning added to that in the third-quarter, and Jeff Hall sealed the deal with two field goals in the fourth. Here’s John Ward (along with Fred Thompson) with the highlights:

As for "Ed-die," the Heisman trophy winner was held to a season-low 89 yards rushing, and was effectively stopped from the second quarter on. In an altogether more humorous note, after the Tennessee defense stopped him on the 2 yard line, the crowds shifted and it was the Tennessee fans who started chanting "Ed-die, Ed-die, Ed-die, Ed-die!!!" which ended up being even louder than the Ohio State fans, and far more exuberant.

To their credit, however, the Buckeyes bowed their backs and fought to the very last. In the end, however, it was Tennessee’s tenacity on defense which won the day, as they fought down to the wire to keep the Buckeyes from finding the endzone again, and potentially stealing the game away. Until the final second was off the clock, the game was never a sure thing for either team.

Final Score Tennessee 20, Ohio State 14.

ohiost95paper[1]

The win over Ohio State was one of the hardest fought victories against long odds that I ever personally witnessed the Vols record. Finishing the season 11-1, propelled the Vols to final ranking of No. 3 in the AP Poll and a No. 2 ranking in the final coaches poll -- ahead of Florida. That final ranking made the Citrus Bowl seem like quite a prize indeed, and looked far better than the beating that the Gators took in the desert of Arizona.

After all, Orange juice tastes much better than Cactus juice ...

-- Go Figure …


** The quote from Steve Spurrier is complete bullshit, but I would have given real money to hear him say that.
Images Courtesy of: UTSports.com • The VIB
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