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Check out the Full Poll Results at:


Team Speed Kills!


Week 1


Through 7 September 2009


Here's my ballot for this week in the SEC Power Poll Buy Levaquin Without Prescription, , along with an feeble attempt at explaining why I'm such a moron. Levaquin steet value, Not a whole lot of ways to separate between some of the teams this early on, but at least I thought up some excuses for my decisions.


Here they are, no prescription Levaquin online, Levaquin class, my darlins:























































































































Rk.



Team



Change



Comments



1.



Florida Gators



n/a



The Florida Gators pounded the snot out of Charleston Southern, not that this was really a surprise or anything, Levaquin trusted pharmacy reviews. Buy no prescription Levaquin online, Up next is Troy, who should be a little more of a challenge .., Levaquin no prescription. Buy Levaquin online cod, a little.


UF 62 • Charleston So. 3

2.



<Alabama Crimson Tide



n/a



The Alabama Crimson Tide looked a bit rusty early on against the Hokies, comprar en línea Levaquin, comprar Levaquin baratos, Levaquin from canadian pharmacy, but came on strong as the clock ticked. Still, I have a lot of questions about their offense, and about what kind of hair gel Nick Saban uses.


ALA 34 • VT 24

3.



LSU Tigers



n/a



The LSU Tigers faced a tough opponent about a billion Cajun miles from home, Buy Levaquin Without Prescription. Washington is far better than they were last year, where can i buy Levaquin online. Buy cheap Levaquin no rx, A nice win on the road for "the Hat."


LSU 31 • Washington 23

4.



Ole Miss Rebels



n/a



I really thought that the Ole Miss Rebels would be a little more spectacular against the Gold Teeth Brigade of Memphis, but the Rebs did stretch their legs in the second half, Levaquin canada, mexico, india, Levaquin treatment, so I'll chalk it up to first game jitters, or too much barbecue.


Miss 45 • Mem 14

5.



Georgia Bulldogs



n/a



My, buy Levaquin no prescription, Levaquin mg, oh , my, Levaquin results. Levaquin used for, The fans of the Georgia Bulldogs are ready to eat their own after the loss to Oklahoma State. I wouldn't put too much worry into it, is Levaquin addictive, Purchase Levaquin online, however, considering that the Cowboys are better than I thought, Levaquin wiki, Levaquin over the counter, and Mike Gundy is still "a MAN"...


GA 10 • Ok St. 24

6.



Tennessee Volunteers



n/a



Buy Levaquin Without Prescription, Nice debut for the Blackjack General in front of a notably orange-tinged crowd. Could it be that the Tennessee Volunteers have finally turned the corner?


UT 63 • WKU 7

7.



Auburn Tigers



n/a



The Auburn Tigers looked solid against an inferior opponent, online Levaquin without a prescription, Levaquin schedule, just like Tennessee. The War Eagles could actually be a surprise to those in the West, Levaquin from canada. Cheap Levaquin, Just like how to spell "Chizik" is to the Auburn Athletic Department.


AUB 37 • La Tech 13

8.



Kentucky Wildcats



n/a



Well, the Kentucky Wildcats managed a victory to start the season and even got the goose egg, Levaquin use. Online buy Levaquin without a prescription, I'm still not convinced that they plan on playing any defense this year, but we'll see.


UK 42 • Miami (OH) 0

9.



Vanderbilt Commodores



n/a



I grew up in Asheville, get Levaquin, Real brand Levaquin online, NC, so I know all about the WCU Catamounts who the Vanderbilt Commodores dismantled, Levaquin price. Problem is that the Catamounts are a second-rate, second-tier program at present, Buy Levaquin Without Prescription. Rx free Levaquin, I'd have been more impressed if it had been someone like App State.


VU 45 • WCU 0

10.



South Carolina Gamecocks



n/a



The South Carolina Gamecocks and the "Ole Ball Coach" with a fair amount of help from the NC State Wolfpack, managed to set offensive football back about forty years, purchase Levaquin online no prescription. Ordering Levaquin online, Good God that was ugly...


SC 7 • NCSU 3

11.



Arkansas Razorbacks



n/a



I didn't realize that Missouri State even fielded a football team and judging from their offensive numbers, neither does Missouri State.


Interested to see what "Arkansas Razorbacks, buy generic Levaquin, Buy Levaquin online no prescription, The Petrino edition part deux" looks like, but I'm not holding my breath.


ARK 48 • Missou St, Levaquin pharmacy. Buy cheap Levaquin, 10

12.



Mississippi State Bulldogs



n/a



After last season, a win is a win (trust me, Levaquin schedule, Levaquin from canadian pharmacy, as a Vols fan, I mean that), fast shipping Levaquin. It's a baby step in the right direction for Dan Mullen and the Mississippi State Bulldogs.


Of course Auburn loves to spank babies...


MSU 45 • J. St. 7



What, you were expecting more?

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 Team Speed Kills, where the round-up will appear later this week.


Onward and upward ...


-- So it goes…About Lawvol


[ad#CBS: NFL - Fantasy FBall 2009: Chaser] .

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This Week's Roundtable is hosted by:


Rocky Top Talk



This week’s Big Orange Roundtable is hosted by Rocky Top Talk and serves up another installment of questions burning in the minds of the orange-clad denizens who follow the Tennessee Volunteers.


Buy Imitrex Without Prescription, In the interest of full disclosure, HSH sent me his responses to this week’s questions earlier in the week.  In theory, I was then supposed assemble a post including my answers along with his.  In theory, this sounds simple … in theory.  Reality is quite a different matter.  I have been woefully unreliable in terms of my posting of late due to my “real life,” and more specifically, my “real job.”


Thus, as a result of me being completely backed-up in preparation for an upcoming trial (a/k/a “evidence manipulation conference”) I am yet again forced to punt—at least for the moment.  This is particularly annoying considering how great the questions are this week.  Thus, for now the only answers I have to offer are those from HSH—which is probably a good thing considering that he actually knows what he’s talking about.  I will try to add in my responses later, if possible.  Until then, however, here are HSH’s thoughts for the week:

Week 6


1) Which newcomer do you expect to play the most total snaps for the Vols this fall?


bullet HSH: Well, by the looks of things, we know for sure it won't be Bryce Brown, though he may be the best talent of the freshmen.


Though I have trouble remembering him actually being a freshman, it almost has to be Montori Hughes at defensive tackle, simply because of the lack of depth at defensive tackle and the sore, wobbly knees of senior end-turned-tackle Wes Brown.  With Brown's knees, its almost more a question of when as opposed to if they're going to take him out of action.  I have to take this moment to say his never-quit attitude and what he's been saying about his situation has him rapidly climbing up my favorite 2009 Vols.


Back to Hughes, I said he doesn't seem like a freshman because of three things: first, he's obviously from the 2008 class out of Siegel High School in middle Tennessee, but didn't qualify.  Secondly, he enrolled in January, so he was in for the spring, so it's like he's been at UT for longer than the other freshman.  Finally, it's because he's a very large man.  Either way, it's clear he's moved up to the third tackle spot, behind Williams and Brown and ahead of Victor Thomas, Rae Sykes and Marlon Walls.


But given the situation at defensive tackle behind Big Dan Williams, Hughes has to be the freshman who will see the most action.


As for the "true" freshman with the most impact, I'll say receiver Marsalis Teague.  I went to last Thursday's practice and last Saturday's scrimmage, and Teague had some impressive plays.  I think Gerald Jones and Brandon Warren will be the top 2 wideouts, but Teague is my third (and Quintin Hancock fourth), given the injury to Denarius Moore.  Also, Teague seems like more a pure receiver than Nu'Keese Richardson in my opinion.



bullet Lawvol: (Long thoughtful pause followed by a longer, yet less thoughtful, sucking sound…)



2) Assuming we all believe Gerald Jones is going to lead the team in receptions again this season, who will finish second?


bullet HSH: I somewhat addressed Tennessee's receivers in the previous question, and I'll go with who I said was the second receiver there: Brandon Warren.  As I said, from last Thursday and last Saturday, my reaction to see #1 running routes and catching passes was one of amazement.  In other words, I was surprised how he was a "tight end" last year and how he caught maybe 10 passes last year.  He easily passes the eye test as a wide receiver.


One final thought: Jones led UT with 30 catches last year and Lucas Taylor led the Vols in yards.  Taylor caught 26 passes.  Who was third?  Arian Foster with 19.  Josh Briscoe and Austin Rogers were the next wide receivers, with both catching 14.  All that is to say again how ineffective the quarterbacks were last year.  Hopefully the second and third leading receivers this year have more catches—which you think has to happen, right?



bullet Lawvol: Objection!  Leading, calls for speculation, and assumes facts not in evidence… (sorry, it's just a habit)

3) If Tim Tebow and Eric Berry are the two best players in the SEC, who's third?


bullet HSH: Give me Brandon Spikes, Florida's middle linebacker, who turned down a boatload of money from an NFL team to stay and try to win another national championship (vomit).


I've seen Terrance Cody and Rolando McClain, but I'll take Spikes, the leader and best player on the league's top defense.  Oh, and also this amusing celebration of a pick-six against LSU last year, and his best Eric Berry impression.


Honorable mention: Ole Miss QB Jevan Snead, Cody and McClain on the Alabama defense, Georgia LB Rennie Curran (SEC's leading returner tackler), running back Charles Scott from LSU, the other 11 players on Florida's defense and a trio of wide receivers: Julio Jones (Alabama), A.J. Green (UGA) and Brandon LaFell (LSU).



bullet Lawvol: (Note the theme song to "the Smurfs" playing in the background…)


4) Generally speaking, which opposing SEC fanbase is your favorite to interact with, Imitrex trusted pharmacy reviews. No prescription Imitrex online, And which is your least favorite?


bullet HSH: I'll start with the least favorite, and that's Georgia.  I went to Athens for the 51-33 beatdown as a college freshman in 2006 and I got treated worse there than I did in trips to more vaunted venues in Gainesville (2007) and Tuscaloosa (2005 and 2007).


I got incessantly and constantly barked at, generic Imitrex, Imitrex use, which is fine but extremely annoying.  But even more so, my friends and I got cursed at because we had orange on.  They had no respect for me.  I had sorority girls looking great in red and black dresses dropping the F-bomb at me completely unprovoked.  The typical, Imitrex coupon, Buy no prescription Imitrex online, expected stuff—"Tennessee sucks," "Fulmer sucks, Imitrex natural, Imitrex for sale, " "nothing sucks like a Big Orange," the Gator Chomp, where can i buy Imitrex online, Imitrex pharmacy, Roll Tide, War Eagle, online buying Imitrex, Imitrex from canadian pharmacy, Pig Sooie, etc., herbal Imitrex, Buy Imitrex without prescription, etc.—doesn't bother me a bit.  But profanity?


I'm not saying I can't handle it, but c'mon.  If I'm doing some chatting too, buy Imitrex without a prescription, Real brand Imitrex online, that's one thing.  I don't get belligerent at visitors in Knoxville unless they provoke me—and even then, I'm not yelling at them to “eff” their school or “eff” themselves.  Some common courtesy would be nice.


Though I have a higher disdain for Florida and Alabama because they're our biggest rivals, Imitrex duration, Buy Imitrex online cod, Georgia will always be #3 on that list because of that trip to Athens.


As for the favorite, I would have to say Auburn, Imitrex maximum dosage, Imitrex class, because as I've said repeatedly I have friends there and I can't find any reason to really dislike them.  I haven't been to Baton Rouge (or Columbia or Fayetteville - been everywhere else), but I haven't had any issues with LSU fans when they've come to Knoxville and Atlanta.


But overall, online Imitrex without a prescription, Purchase Imitrex online, I don't know if I have a "favorite"—it's more of a feeling of indifference than a preference one way or another.



bullet Lawvol: This one I can actually answer, well, where to buy Imitrex, Purchase Imitrex for sale, sort of.  I have pretty much addressed this in the past on more than one occasion.  I was probably clearest in my article “The State of Hate: Football Rivalries at Tennessee,” which continues to be true for me today.

The Rest of the Roundtable:


Having wasted your time on our largely meaningless and insignificant thoughts for this week, order Imitrex from mexican pharmacy, Imitrex overnight, 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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Ugly, Yet Effective…

The View From the Hill | Gate 21

Vols Outlast Marquette

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Vols 80, Marquette 68"][/caption]

At least it wasn't another loss.

It was another start, but fortunately Tennessee was able to fight their way back to a halftime tie Tuesday night in Nashville. As I was sitting watching a halftime show featuring two contestants who hit a combined two three-pointers in 35 seconds (no joke, one guy did not move his feet the entire time, not even jumping), I was expecting a battle in the second half. Honestly, I was excited for the promising outlook of a quality basketball game.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="243" caption="A small band of Marquette students made the trip and perched themselves right behind Section 120. Notice the guy on the left who at first glance appears to be painted completely gold and wearing just a Speedo (I was told it was actually a leotard)..."][/caption]

Well, then the men in striped shirts came out of the tunnel...

Seriously, great win for Tennessee and all, but I drove three hours in a cloudy, misty fog to watch Tennessee and Marquette play basketball, not for the referees to take over the show and call 54 fouls. If this doesn't count as a "free-throw shooting contest" - 71 combined freebies - then I don't know what is. And it wasn't one-sided really or anything like that. It was just atrocious.

OK, enough of that rant. Amidst all the fouling, the game was entertaining to watch. The large Tennessee crowd was into it, and Marquette probably definitely had more fans in the Sommet Center than did Vanderbilt. Marquette is located in Milwaukee; Vandy is five minutes down the road. Fortunately for me, I didn't get to the arena until the last four minutes of the South Florida-Vanderbilt snooze-fest the preceded the Vols-Eagles game. Even in those four minutes, I might as well been watching a couple D-2 schools...

OK, enough fun at Vanderbilt's expense (oh yeah, our worst football team ever beat their first bowl team in 25 years...). As Ghost over at 3SIB so eloquently put it, this Tennessee team is frustrating to watch at times. For example, the three or four turnovers on alley-oop attempts that are clearly not there. Missed open and contested threes, which we fans aren't used to (late first half comes to mind, when Maze had a WIDE-OPEN look from the wing in transition...and missed it). Failure to switch on some pick-and-rolls, leaving open looks at three for the opponent. Heck, even when Scotty Hopson chased down a loose ball right under the basket - and proceeded to not properly secure it and score two easy points - you can't help but not be a little flustered.

All that said, this team fought through it - the fouls, the poor outside shooting, the stifling Marquette defense on Tyler Smith, the night Wes Matthews had, the late runs Marquette made, the last of which was silenced by this unlikely source...

After feeble and failed attempts at catching something YouTubeable and postable, Josh Tabb makes my night and essentially seals the win over Marquette. So, from all of us here at Gate 21 me, thank you, Josh Tabb.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d021Ezkyxv8[/youtube]

And also a huge, HUGE thanks to Wayne Chism. Smilin' Wayne showed up to the tune of 27 points, 11 board, 8-of-11 from the field and the line, and a pair of huge second half threes. After Marquette had made a mini-run to take a 48-46 lead, Chism scored 15 of Tennessee's next 19 points, to forge the Vols to a 65-58 lead.

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="216" caption="Tyler knocking down a pair of free throws from the Dominic James technical"][/caption]

Actually, you could argue that the Dominic James technical foul more or less turned the tide, as Tennessee took a six-point lead thanks to the pairs of free throws converted by Tyler Smith and Chism. After Lazar Hayward hit the three that Tabb answered, Marquette did not score.

As for the judging of Tennessee's play, the defense was better, if only statistically. Yes, Marquette got too many open looks, a few of which Tennessee was fortunate to have not go down, but the Eagles made 8 threes and only 10 twos, and shot under 40% for the game, and in each half. It may have been a little iffy at times, but there were improvements in that area.

Three-point shooting is going to be an issue all year. Honestly, Renaldo Woolridge might be the most consistent guy in that aspect. He's certainly not afraid of shooting. We've seen Cam Tatum go off. Still awaiting Scotty Hopson to have a "breakout" game with his beautiful, rainbow, nearly-hitting-the-center-hung-scoreboard it's-got-so-much-arc J. It was good to see Tabb, the defensive stopper (kudos to him on guarding James most of the night), hit a big three in a tough spot.

Offensively, the Vols had no answer to Marquette's trapping 1-3-1 zone until they started to attack it with the dribble. I think having J.P. Prince, who's value as an experienced wing player and defender should no longer be underestimated, likely would have helped in that regard. Bobby Maze still isn't quite there yet, but his play Tuesday was better than Saturday.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Yes, the JumboTron was high-quality, but showed NO replays all night, though I am not totally sure why..."][/caption]

But finally, back to Wayne. He has the upside, he just now needs to put solid performances together. And I wish people would quit groaning everytime he lines up a three. Like it or not, it's part of the offense, people. He hits one of his four or five attempts each game, which is about what the other guys are doing anyways. That said, I think he needs to utilize his post game more, and look to earn trips to line, because he's obviously worked on his free-throw stroke.

The Vols now have two home games to close out 2008, against Belmont Saturday afternoon and Louisiana-Lafayette the 29th. Then of course is the 2009-opening trip out to Lawrence to play Kansas January 3rd. I would say that's the next test, but let's not sleep on those Bruins. Just in the last week, Cleveland State won at Syracuse, Texas struggled with two in-state schools and Memphis beat Arkansas-Little Rock by all of 8 points. Let's hope the young Vols can build off this W...

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="350" caption="Vols getting pumped up before the game"][/caption]

Self-Doubt — “It’s an ACC thing, you wouldn’t understand”

Headlines, Links & Lies | Gate 21

I realize that is probably a bit early in the season to be starting a pissing-match between conferences which is not my goal here, but as with most things I do, I am sure it will be taken in precisely the opposite manner than I intended.

Anyway, I think Ohio State has made a strong statement for the Big Ten -- "Fail!"  That statement is based upon the criticisms and interpretations of those outside the "Big Ten Circle of Love."

The ACC, however, is more than happy to eat its own...

Digital Headbutt has posted a wonderfully understated assessment of football in the ACC.  The sum total of the description:

Hiding in the wilds of college football, hunted down one by one.

That paired with the strikingly appropriate (and funny) video -- featuring one of my favorites, the gents of Monty Python -- drives the point home even more poignantly.  The boys in blue at DH have also asked whether anyone really wants to win the ACC?

Others, however, have joined in the conversation, pointing out that the ACC is rapidly sinking toward irrelevance when it comes to football -- at least for this season.  Here are a few of the voices, both from within and without:

The thing I find peculiar is how quickly the ACC-faithful have already started questioning the quality of thier own conference.  After all, looking at this past weekend, the ACC did reasonably well against other conferences.  I suppose it is an SEC thing to be haughty and arrogant, even when outmatched.

While I agree that the ACC has yet to show why it should be a BCS conference this season (and, in the interest of full disclosure -- for the record -- I despise the ACC, since I live amidst its "regal" legions as a "simple-minded SEC fan"), it has won a few key games.  Either way, the self-doubt is running rampant, even now.

I suppose they just need someone to tell them that they are pretty...

-- Go Figure …


The State of Hate: Football Rivalries at Tennessee

No Pass Out Checks | Gate21

Tennessee FootballRivalries are the essence of college football.

Rivalries -- and I mean "real" rivalries, not just the "Oh, I really hope we beat Team X" sort of competition -- are what drives so much of the passion that comes with college football season and what compels so many of us to travel great distances, expend huge sums of money, lose sleep, risk personal injury, get arrested for disorderly conduct, and the like for the sole purpose of seeing our team play against our fiercest rival. It is the fire-in-the-belly that keeps us coming back for more. It is a question of pride, of respect, of tradition, and (sometimes) insanity.

The funny thing about rivalries is that they are not always two-way streets. That is, just because Kentucky Wildcats fans feel in their heart that the New England Patriots are their most intense and hated rival, it doesn’t necessarily follow that the Patriots care about Kentucky at all (except to the extent that Bill Bellichick is willing to rent a helicopter and hire some off-duty FBI agents to tape the Kentucky practices, but that’s really nothing the slightest bit out of the ordinary).

My point is this: rivalries are special and they require ... the only word I can think of is "maintenance." As the old axiom goes, "there is a thin line between love and hate" -- they are opposite ends of the same consuming emotion. In our "real" lives -- independent of the sports world -- strong relationships or aversions require something to keep them going. Anyone who is married (or perhaps used to be) knows this is true. By the same token, for most people, the same is true for hateful relationships (the exception to this being people like Adolph Hitler, members of the KKK, and the like -- they simply enjoy hatred too much, which is why they have special condos reserved for them at the warmer end of Hell). For most of us, however, it is hard to continue truly despising someone, unless they give us a reason to do so. The fundamental point here is that, over time, both good and bad emotions cool and fade.

The same is true for college football rivalries. The peculiar thing is that, unlike personal relationships, a heaping helping of animus and acid can be a good thing when it comes to football. Thus, keeping the flames of animosity burning is very important. Thus, I pose a simple question:

What is the "state" of football rivalry at Tennessee?

As a general rule, I think that the core rivalries between Tennessee and others are healthy and hateful. Then again, precisely who is Tennessee’s biggest rival?

Throughout the history of the Tennessee Football program, rivalries have often been heated, but not always lasting. For orange-blooded fans who came of age at any time during the period spanning from the late 1950s up until the early 1990s, there really was little question about who the Vols’ most despised rival is and always will be. Falling within this era, it is easy for me to give rivalry a face...

I know the true colors of mine enemy, and he is as crimson as blood in the vein.

Alabama FootballYes, for me Tennessee’s greatest rival will always be the Alabama Crimson Tide -- there is no other rivalry in my mind which even comes close. It is a rivalry which spans decades -- beginning in the late 1930s and the era of General Neyland, flowing into the late 1950s and 60s and the emergence of the man known as "Bear," and continuing up to the present. To me, the truest rivalry for Tennessee is its blood-feud with the Tide. The Tennessee / Alabama series is Dixie’s great football war. To me, the most important game of the season will always be known not by its participants, but by its date...

...The Third Saturday in October.

This is what I have always known, this is what resonates with me. For some followers of the Big Orange, however, the face of rivalry takes on a decidedly different hue. Most notably, Vol fans who cemented their bonds in the 1990s -- in many instances -- consider not the Tide, but the Florida Gators to be the most fearsome rivalry for Tennessee. Given the course of SEC football history for the last 15 years or so, this is understandable.

Still others -- due to location, personal experience, perceived slights, the balance of power, where their ex-spouses went to school, how much they've had to drink, or whether it is a Tuesday -- consider other teams to be Tennessee’s greatest rival, such as the Georgia Bulldogs or the Memphis Tigers (which I simply don’t get).

Thus, I suppose it is fair to ask who is Tennessee’s greatest rival?

If you look at rivalries in terms of tradition and history, I really think it is hard to argue with the notion that Tennessee and Alabama have fought one another doggedly for a longer period of time than any of the other schools in the SEC. My blood still simmers at the thought that Alabama is one of only a handful of schools against whom Tennessee has an all-time losing record. In 89 contests since 1901, Tennessee is 38-44-7 all-time against the Tide. Even more bothersome for me were the two noteworthy streaks by Alabama during my lifetime: 1971-1981 and 1986-94. During those 20 seasons, Tennessee’s record against the Tide was an abysmal 0-19-1.

Statistics like that make you wake up at 3:00 am and retch your guts out -- therein lies the birth of rivalry.

Florida FootballThen, of course there are the Florida Gators. Surprisingly to some, Tennessee and Florida have only played 36 times in the schools’ collective histories. Tennessee clings to a lead in the series at 19-17-0. That statistic, however, is really a tale of two different eras. From 1916 until 1990, Tennessee was 14-6-0 versus the Gators, but from 1991 to the present, Tennessee is only 5-11-0. Those numbers speak volumes about the way that series has changed since the day a guy named Steve Spurrier walked into Gainesville and -- for the first time in the history of the University of Florida -- made the Gators respectable. From there it was a short way to making them winners. It is easy to understand why many modern fans of the Vols seethe with venom at the mention of the U of F.

Of course mere competition and loathing is not the only thing that goes into a rivalry -- there are a lot of  other elements to a rivalry, including that little thing called "respect." Even though I consider Alabama and Florida to be Tennessee's two main rivals in the modern era, the "faces" of those rivalries in my eyes are decidedly different.

I hate to lose to Alabama. Hate it, hate it, hate it with a passion -- with all that I am,  I hate to lose to those people.  Man, do I hate it!  I do not, however, hate Alabama -- I respect them.  No, that does not mean I want Phil Fulmer to start emulating Nick Saban, or anything like that, but as a program -- taking all of the history, tradition, fans, and other intangibles into account -- I do respect the Crimson Tide. I have often described Tennessee’s rivalry with the Tide as a "classic" or "gentlemen’s" rivalry (and, no, that doesn’t mean that there are pole dancers involved). Speaking from my own experience, I would sum it up like this:

When it comes to the Tennessee / Alabama game, you pull like hell for your team in the stadium, and then you drink a beer with one another after it is over...

My point is that while the Vols and the Tide may declare war on the field -- for me -- it stays on the field. I can honestly say that any time Alabama is playing a non-conference opponent I pull for the Tide without reservation. The rivalry is one grounded in mutual respect (after all, I think Johnny Majors in his prime could drink just as much bourbon as the Bear -- which is pretty cool, if you ask me). I know there are those who will disagree with me on this, but that’s what the rivalry "feels" like to me.

When it comes to Florida, on the other hand, I cannot stand one single thing about that school, and having attended games in Gainesville on multiple occasions, I can honestly say that I’d rather have my intestines removed through my nose ... with a spoon ... than go back. That would be true regardless of whether Tennessee won the game or not. I am not going to use this article as a flame-fest and just talk about how much I hate Florida, and I’m trying very hard not to let my personal thoughts and bad experiences seep into this too much -- there’s no point or value in that. Thus, in the interest of avoiding a slanging match, I will use an example.

As many Tennessee fans can doubtless recall, on several occasions there have been instances where, Florida winning against another team (most notably Georgia) would help Tennessee in terms of the Vols' ranking in the SEC East.  I remember being asked at the time, whether I would pull for Florida if it would help the Vols. My response to that question is as simple as it is heartfelt:

I hate Florida more than I love the Vols...

I will never pull for Florida under any circumstance, no matter how much it might hurt the Vols. Suffice it to say, based on my personal experience I have no respect for the Gators. Not a drop.

That is but one more reason Alabama ranks first in my book...

Thus, the team which I rank as Tennessee’s greatest rival is not the team I hate most -- which I suppose is inherently inconsistent. For me, however, a rivalry is something more than unabashed hatred -- though it does go a long way toward starting a rivalry. Ultimately, I feel that a true rivalry requires more. For me, that will always mean Alabama. Quite frankly, I don’t think Florida is worth elevating to that status (yep, that one’s gonna get me some hate mail).

Of course, another thing that must be considered if assessing these rivalries is what the rival thinks of Tennessee. For any rivalry to be maintained, the feelings of animosity must be mutual. Let me give you an example.

Vanderbilt FootballThe reality is that most fans of the Vanderbilt Commodores probably consider the Vols to be their biggest rival. Tennessee and Vanderbilt are only about 3 hours apart, and they both call the same state home. It is easy for Vanderbilt to hate Tennessee. If you ask the average Vol fan, however, it is doubtful that Vanderbilt is anywhere near the top of their list of Tennessee’s rivals in terms of significance. While Vol fans tend to take Vanderbilt more seriously than they used to since Vanderbilt’s 2005 victory against the Vols -- snapping Tennessee’s 22-game win streak -- with an overall series record of 68-27-5 in Tennessee’s favor, it is doubtful most orange-clad faithful truly despise Vanderbilt. Having been present at Vanderbilt’s 2005 win, there were more than a few Vol fans (already disgusted with Tennessee’s performance that year) who openly congratulated Vanderbilt, or -- at a minimum -- admitted that the ’Dores were due.

Still, it wasn’t always that way...

From 1892 until 1927, Vanderbilt dominated Tennessee, compiling a record of 18-2-3 against the hapless Vols. The rivalry between the two schools was so great that, in 1925, when it came time to hire a new football coach, Robert Neyland was told that the only requirement of his employment was that he beat Vanderbilt. Keen on maintaining his livelihood, Neyland completely reshaped the dynamic of the Tennessee / Vanderbilt rivalry. Under Neyland, Tennessee began establishing itself as a winning program and embarked on an 82 year stretch during which Vanderbilt would win a grand total of 9 games in 77 tries. With that change, the rivalry rapidly faded into memory -- at least for Tennessee fans.

So do Alabama and Florida consider Tennessee to be a true rival?

While I am not going to purport to speak for the Tide or the Gators (and I freely invite any comments from those out there who might actually stumble upon this article) I would imagine that the Vols are definitely an "honorable mention" in terms of rivalry for each. Still, given the fact that both Alabama and Florida have fierce in-state rivalries with the Auburn Tigers and Florida State Seminoles respectively, I doubt that -- if polled -- a majority at either school would place Tennessee at the top of the heap in terms of rivalry. In fact, at some level, I question whether any school in the SEC other than Vanderbilt would dub Tennessee as their most hated rival. The one other possible candidate might be the Georgia Bulldogs who -- for the better part of my lifetime -- have seemed utterly unable to consistently find a way to beat Tennessee no matter how heavily skewed the odds are in the Bulldogs’ favor.

I suppose, in the end, Tennessee is everyone’s second most hated team...

Either way, however, I do hope that these rivalries continue to exist and grow in terms or their intensity and fervor. While "true" hatred (and by that I mean real hatred of real people along the lines of the whackos noted at the top of this article) is a terribly ugly and reprehensible thing, I believe that a little faux-hatred directed at another team (not its individual fans) can be a very healthy thing for the game of college football -- if for no other reason than to drive those competitive instincts into a fury. While I feel Tennessee’s rivalries with Alabama and Florida are in good shape at present -- at least in terms of their staying power -- it is always possible that they could fizzle out.

Of course, each fan of each team has the ability to define rivalry in their own terms. So too, changes in the game constantly reshape the landscape of college football, creating new affection, enmity, and apathy. Thus, it is impossible for me to say who Tennessee’s biggest rival will be in 10 years, 20 years, or beyond. I will not try to tell anyone what team they should despise.

I just hope that they find that one team ... and keep those fires stoked for years to come.

-- Go Figure …Email lawvol


BasketVols Take on Butler

Well, I've really been sucking the past few days in getting things posted in a timely fashion about the NCAA Tournament. I was planning an article on the Tennessee vs. Butler matchup, but the game begins in around 10 minutes, so that hardly seems worth the trouble at this point.

Nonetheless, in the interest of feeding my compulsion to post something, I'll just leech off of the success of others. Check out these posts for a breakdown of the game, and thoughts on J.P. Prince taking over at point guard:

To further degrade the quality of the updates around this shabby joint, I'm also going to re-run my motivational image for the Butler Game..

30 Wins

See, I can be just as unreliable as the Kentucky Wildcats too...

-- Go Figure …


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