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Posted: Thursday, January 11th, 2018, 1:31 PM
by Beano
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As I settled in to watch two of the Vols bitter rivals prepare to play for the National Championship of college football I really had no idea how to feel or who to pull for. I saw no outcome that could be looked upon as a positive for Tennessee going forward. I did not -nor do I now- think that a win would diminish the blood-thirst for winning of Nick Saban and Alabama Nation nor derail Georgia’s momentum under Saban protégé Kirby Smart. Nor did I believe a loss would be devastating to either camp. I had no confidence -or fear- that Jeremy Pruitt’s tenure here would be altered whether his defense stoned the Dawgs or gave up half-a-hundred nor that one more appearance or another ring would significantly raise his profile as a recruiter. All I saw was two teams that I’d much rather see lose than win playing a game that couldn't end in a preferred tie. So I watched it as I would Dick Clark’s Rockin New Year’s Eve; waiting for the clock to strike triple-zeroes so Tennessee Football could start all over once again.


-That had to be an excruciating loss for the Georgia faithful. If you’re an Alabama fan a near-miss doesn’t have the feel of desperation that most fans would experience because in the Saban reign another opportunity is right around the corner. Unless Smart is a lot more like Nick than I think it will probably be some time before Georgia is ever that close to a National Title again.

-Though I can’t explain why, as the game progressed I surprisingly found myself pulling for the Tide. I can say with certainty if I were still working it would have never happened. I have too many Bama fan friends at my former place of employment that I simply wouldn’t have wanted to hear bloviate on the Tide’s seemingly never-ending supremacy. Not to mention the fact that most of those knuckleheads grew up in the shadows of Tuscaloosa in exotic locales like Crossville or Coalfield.

-It’s always been obvious that Saban has stacked great player upon great player during his reign of terror in Tuscaloosa but usually you have to wait until the following fall to see what you’re in for. Monday night watching Tua Tagovailoa throw a TD pass to DeVonta Smith or hand it off to Najee Harris while being protected by LT Alex Leatherwood -all of which are true freshman- with the National Championship at stake no less- it makes you wonder if it will ever end.

-Surely Saban -currently 66 years young- will quit once he reaches 70 right? … RIGHT?

-Georgia has certainly recruited at a high level as well but with at least 31 players ready to move on to whatever is next in their lives a drop-off is coming. Georgia without question has the ingredients for long-term success but I doubt we ever see it again to the level currently being enjoyed by the Tide.

-As over-the-top as security has become at any major event I would hate to attend one at which The President of the United States decides to make a brief appearance. Apparently, it was almost as hard to get into Mercedes Benz Stadium Monday as it was the lower section of Thompson Boling Arena prior to Bruce Pearl’s arrival.

-If you weren’t sickened by the sight of the participants Monday’s game would have most certainly been great theatre.


The Vols -as so often occurs- had no lack of energy or focus with Kentucky in the house last week. Had they approached the Auburn game with the same level of energy we would be right on schedule

If we can get solid outings from two of Jordan Bone, Jordan Bowden, LaMonte Turner or James Daniel we should win our share of SEC games.

Turner and Daniel raised their level of play with Bone ailing and Bowden slumping versus the Cats.

I didn’t think Admiral Schofield could play any better than he did against Kentucky. He was a man on the glass and defending and was as efficient as possible offensively. But he exceeded that lofty performance three nights later versus the Commodores.

Great to see John Fulkerson have a solid game versus the Cats. He’s never going to be a star here but I still believe he possesses the skill and instincts to be a lunch-pale offensive contributor with one healthy off-season in the weight room. It may take him longer on the defensive end however.

Also encouraging to see Rick Barnes up-and-at-em courside versus the Big Blue. He either had the flu or a bout of narcolepsy the night Bruce Pearl was in the house

I can’t imagine Williams and Schofield ever having a better combined game than they did against Vandy; 59 points, 16 rebounds and only 4 personal fouls combined are run-the-table-type numbers

It was great to see Jordan Bowden reemerge in the second half in Nashville. He had been missing for the previous 5 halves of basketball.

ROADMAP TO THE NCAA TOURNEY: Now that the Vols have evened their SEC record at 2-2 it’s time to plot out the path to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since the 2013-14 season. Currently sitting at 11-4 overall with an extremely solid RPI and Strength of Schedule 18 regular season wins and a 9-9 SEC record should be enough. Though a win over Iowa State in Ames would be preferable we’ll set that aside for the sake of this discussion. That leaves the Vols searching for 7 wins in their last 14 conference games. Here is the way to get there:


That will provide the seven wins I believe are still needed to make the field of 68. Though the league is much more solid than in years past this should be an attainable target. It would allow the Vols to drop games to either Missouri or South Carolina, Kentucky, Alabama, Georgia and one of Ole Miss or Mississippi State on the road while also excusing home losses to Texas A&M and Florida. If I’m correct and 18 regular season wins and a .500 SEC record gets the Vols in there is really no reason not to close the deal.

SHOW NOTE: Please join Geoff Brock; Phil Cooper; Sean Sinclair; Brian Hartman and I as we fill in for Tony on the show Friday. Let’s do another old-school Calhoun’s Saturday Conversation Reunion.

FINAL FRIDAY THOUGHT: Scary as it seems I’m beginning to believe University of Tennessee Athletics are emerging from years of malaise.

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