November 1, 2011
Just like an uncomfortable scene in a movie, a scene that you know at the beginning the main character is going to put themselves in. A scene that is drawn out way beyond real time to provoke the most uncomfortable, painful feeling the viewer can experience. The scene could be one of a horror movie, setting up the one good scare at the end or could be a scene in a comedy where the main character self-inflicts the most humiliating of events, the scene could be from a drama that allows the main character to plunge themselves into rock bottom self-destruction. This is what October has been for the Volunteers! Not sense 2007 have the Vols posted a successful October campaign. That year was the next to last for Philip Fulmer, whose was usually 50% at best with October games. This year proved to be as painful, if not more so, as last year for the Vols and Coach Derek Dooley. Ineptitude in almost all phases of the game littered the month, field, talk shows, and has fueled fan frustration to the same level as movie goers yelling at the screen “NO, DON’T OPEN THAT DOOR!”.
Yet, the door somehow always gets opened, the main character never quits when things get rough but keeps making them much worse, and the Vols continued to take the field looking unprepared, unready, unsure of themselves, and fearful of how bad things could get. Those characteristics are the perfect concoction for failure, which is the result of October Horror Movie Part 3. Just like those movies, they are start out good, serene, hopefully, vivid which is how all of the Vols games started. LSU, Alabama, South Carolina, and Georgia all saw a competitive Vol team for the first 2 quarters but then the destructive period of the movie quickly came in the form of a 3rd Quarter! Fans saw their beloved character fall flat on his face, sometimes looking foolish, sometimes looking lost, sometimes looking like they didn’t deserve to be on the field. Players and coaches looking astonished at what they have produced on the field, just as a main character of a movie looks completely surprised just before getting hit by the bus yet completely oblivious to the fact that they’re standing in the middle of a freeway.
2005 saw the Volunteers go winless for 5 games starting in the second week of October and ending in November with a 41-21 thumping by Notre Dame. The undercurrent of sentiment that Philip Fulmer has lost his touch quickly was upgraded to shouts and civil discord. Fulmer’s previous 3 years produced all winning records but fell short with only 1 win out of 3 bowl appearances. Yet 2005 saw no changes in our coaching staff and little affect of Philip Fulmer. The following 2 years produced winning records throughout the regular season and a 1-1 record in both bowl appearances. Just as in the movies, before the bad scene starts various changes in background take place. The music starts to become more ominous, the scenery more dark, the extras look more menacing, and the camera shots become more quick and jittery. We all heard it at the beginning of October, the movie gave us a short glimpse into the upcoming scene with the 3rd weekend in September, yet we remained nieve and gullible.
But the scene is far from over, the main character is on his knees begging for relief, a good samaritan to miraculously appear, or some random stroke of good luck. Does the main character take one more shot before getting back on his feet? The Vols next few weeks would certainly indicate that is possible as we stare down the remainder of our schedule seeing #7 Arkansas and a very competitive 4-4 Vanderbilt team that just managed to score 28 points in a loss to the Razorbacks. A losing season for 2011 certainly is possible as disheartened Vol fans see their team struggle in almost every aspect of the game. While flashes of productivity are seen from time to time but rarely sustained, coaches look for anything at all positive to talk about in deflecting the obvious, we can only sit in our seats continuing to watch and hope that, what always comes at the end of these movies, a great finish, a return of vivid orange colors and an exciting Rocky Top score will soon return to Neyland Stadium.