Tennessee Vols Heartbreak Losses
Fans of all schools have endured heartbreaking losses, but I contend that Tennessee has found new and unusual ways to break the hearts of their fans during the 130 years they have played football. The Vols don’t simply lose, they rip out their fans’ hearts and stomp on them a few times before handing them back and saying, “See ya next Saturday.”
The loss to LSU (October 2, 2010) was perhaps the worst defeat I have ever seen ANY team ever take. It is indeed rare, for a team to win the game, but after the game is over have a penalty that requires replaying the final down and then losing the game on that play, oh my.... However, I contend that this is not out of the ordinary for the Vols. To illustrate my point, I have brought in Eric Stratton, better known as Otter, to argue this before the court of college football opinion.
We also have Judge Wormer in the courtroom today to prevent any Tom Foolery Mr. Stratton might try to attempt.
Prosecuting Attorney Stratton – ….Take it easy I’m in pre-law, or pre-med…what’s the difference?
Gentlemen, I will be brief.
The issue here is not bad officiating, or Lane Kiffin’s stench hanging around the locker room. It certainly couldn’t be all the really good looking Tennessee girls drinking butt loads of Jack Daniels to help them “get over the heartbreak of another Tennessee loss…”
You’ll get your chance, smart guy. Now get on with it…” (Note the Tennessee state flag next to Wormer. Very tasteful…)
Prosecuting Attorney Stratton – Sorry, Judge Wormer. Here are a few exhibits to prove my case that the Vols are the cruelest team in the SEC when it comes to the health of the Big Orange Nation. Let’s take a walk down memory lane, of the trail of tears if you live in Knoxville:
1966 - #3 Alabama 11 – Tennessee 10
Exhibit A: Let’s go back to 1966 when all the bad luck began. The Vols threatened to blow the Tide off the field in the first quarter as they took a 10-0 lead. Bama, the two-time defending National Champions, rallied to take an 11-10 lead with 3:23 left in the game. The Vols had once last chance from their 30 as they moved down field in a steady rain.
Instead of lining up for a field goal, the Vols tried for the TD but were stopped at the three-yard line. With UT out of timeouts, the field goal team was rushed on the field to try a short field goal from the difficult right hash mark. Kicker Gary Wright, who was automatic from everywhere on the field, was not on this particular kick as his try sailed wide right.
When asked after the game what would have happened if the kick was straight down the middle, Bear Bryant responded, “We would have blocked it.”
1968 - #3 Oklahoma 26 – #2 Tennessee 24 - Orange Bowl
Exhibit B: The Vols fell behind 19-0 to Oklahoma, only to stage one of the greatest comebacks in Orange Bowl history. Down 26-24, Oklahoma went for the first down on fourth and one from it’s own 43 and was stopped by linebacker Jack Reynolds. The Vols moved the ball down to the 27 and had a chance to win the game with a 44- yard field goal by Karl Kremser with less than ten seconds to play, but the kick sailed wide right.
1990 - #3 Auburn 26 - #5 Tennessee 26
Exhibit C: The underdog Vols blew two 16 point leads in the fourth quarter, but had one last chance to win it. Greg Burke’s 34-yard field goal with 15 seconds to go hooked wide left.
1990 – Alabama 6 - #3 Tennessee 3
Exhibit D: A 2-3 Alabama team limped into Knoxville to play undefeated Tennessee, who was fresh off a 45-3 pasting of Steve Spurrier’s Florida Gators the week before. After that win, the Vols were expected to beat the Tide 145-3. Umm, not the case…
The game came down to a field goal by Tennessee’s Greg Burke from 50 yards. The kick was blocked by Bama’s Stacy Harrison and rolled to the Vols’ 37-yard line. When was the last time before or since you saw a blocked FG roll 30 yards backward? Only when you are Tennessee.
Of course Bama’s kicker, Phillip Doyle, had a kick from about the same distance, and it so perfect, the goal posts could have been the width of a football and it still would have been good.
1990 – #1 Notre Dame 34 – Tennessee 29
Exhibit E: 1990? Again? Talk about a season where you saw more people jumping off the bridges and into the Tennessee River. This time, the Vols got off the deck after “Rocket” Ismail’s 45-yard TD run seemed to put the game away in the fourth quarter.
What do the Vols do? They drive down the field in the final minutes to score a TD, then get the onsides kick, then drive down the field again and are within a shadow of the end zone. However, Rod Smith intercepted Andy Kelly’s pass to Alvin Harper at the goal line to end the game.
1992 South Carolina 24 - #16 Tennessee 23
Exhibit F: In a must win game to secure the SEC Eastern Division Championship, the Vols were behind in the final minute against SEC newbie, South Carolina. Heath Shuler threw a screen pass (that play will come up again in Big Orange horror later in this testimony) to Mose Phillips who broke 459 tackles to get the Vols into the end zone. However, LB Hank Campbell thwarted the try for two points and the win as the Vols came up a point short. The Vols season, as well as Johnny Majors’ coaching career at Tennessee, was done.
2001 Georgia 26 - #6 Tennessee 24
Exhibit G: In one of the most amazing finishes in SEC history, Tennessee was all but dead trailing 20-17 with 44 seconds left when Casey Clausen hit Travis Stephens with an innocent looking screen pass that he took 62 yards for the touchdown. But Georgia rallied, aided by a terrible squib kick that Georgia returned to midfield. With five second to play, QB David Greene hit Verron Haynes with a short TD pass to win it 26-24.
2001 LSU 31 - #2 Tennessee 20 – SEC Championship Game
Exhibit H: Sense a pattern here? When the Vols rip their fans’ hearts to shreds, there is usually a couple per season. After recovering from the Hobnail Boot game, the Vols went to Gainesville an 18-point underdog and upset the Gators 34-32 to put themselves into the SEC Championship game and a possible shot at the national championship. The next week, the Vols took a 17-7 lead into halftime, and also knocked out the Tigers starting QB and RB. But LSU dominated the Vols in the second half and ruined UT’s chances at their second national championship in four years.
2005 – #6 Alabama 6 - #17 Tennessee 3
In one of the most intense, thrilling games in the long series, Tennessee and Alabama stuffed each other for 55 minutes. Bama led going into the fourth quarter 3-0, but the Vols got their offense moving as they tied the game, then drove down to the three yard line for what appeared to be he game winning touchdown. After two penalties (typical when Tennessee is trying to make a comeback) Casey Clausen completed a screen pass to Cory Anderson, and the big halfback rumbled towards the end zone. It looked like he had clear sailing, until Alabama’s Roman Harper’s jarring tackle popped the ball out, and only because it was Tennessee, the ball rolled through the end zone, and not to another Vol player, for a touchback.
QB Brodie Croyle led the Tide downfield, completing a 43-yard pass to D.J. Hall for a critical first down on third and eight. Is it just me, or is Tennessee the only SEC team that lets another team complete a 43-yard pass on third down and long to keep a drive alive? That led to Jamie Christensen’s 43-yard field goal with 13 seconds left. Thanks for playing, Vol fans. We have some lovely parting gifts for you…
2007 LSU 21 – Tennessee 14 – SEC Championship Game
Exhibit I: Tennessee played favored LSU even, but a pick six gave the Tigers a seven-point lead. As always, the Vols drive down the field late in the fourth quarter, aided by, what else, a screen pass that Arian Foster almost took to the house but was tackled inside the twenty-yard line. What do the Vols do? Erik Ainge’s pass was intercepted inside the ten. Game over.
Prosecuting attorney Stratton:
And now ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I give you the toughest example of them all:
2009 -#2 Alabama 12 – Tennessee 10
Exhibit J: In the cruelest loss ever in the history of the series, Tennessee plays the eventual national champions head to head for the first 55 minutes on the road, trailing only 12-3.
Tennessee gets a stop and will get the ball back with plenty of time to play. What happens? Vols get a roughing the kicker penalty. Game over.
Wait, the Tide’s eventual Heisman winner Mark Ingram fumbles the ball. Tennessee recovers. When does a team trying to run out the clock fumble? And by the eventually Heisman Trophy winner? Still they are down by 9 points and need two scores. Game over.
WAIT! Jonathan Crompton, who some Vol fans believed couldn’t move the ball across the street, throws a TD pass. With the extra point, the Vols trail by two. Well, nice try, but the game is over. Bama would never screw up an onsides….
Wait!?!?!?!??! Tennessee recovers!!!! Well, there is still no way the Vols will be able to get into field goal range against that great Tide defense. This one is over and…oh my God, Luke Stocker just made an amazing catch to get the Vols within range! They line up at the Tide 27, which is a makeable field goal, even though their kicker, Daniel Lincoln, has missed a couple of field goals and had one blocked on the day.
When was the last time a team had two kicks blocked in the same game? Well, since this is Tennessee, it happened as Terrance Cody, who couldn’t jump five inches to grab a Klondike Bar, did the next best thing and broke through the line to block the kick.
On a sad note to that game, one of my friends watching the game (Name withheld since he didn’t want his wife to know what happened afterward) told me he had a couple of long talks with Mr. John Daniels (When I asked him, Isn’t it Jack? He replies, “Not when you have known him as long as I have, son…”) threw the remote control across the room, then sat down in his living room and began sobbing uncontrollably. His two year old daughter walked over, hugged him and said, “Don’t cry, Daddy… “ That made him cry even more.
He was so despondent (and so drunk) in his blind misery, he cleaned the whole house, did the laundry and laid out the kids clothes for the week. The next day his wife said, “No offense, but I hope Tennessee loses next week. We could use a break on paying for the maid…”
Prosecuting attorney Stratton:
I put it to you, Greg! Isn’t this proof that these games have caused the heart attacks of everyone in the Big Orange Nation?
Well, you can do what you want to us, but we’re not going to sit here, and listen to Bob Kesling (Vols radio announcer) get the hopes up of Vol fans all over the world just to have our hearts broken again!
Let’s all become Vanderbilt fans!!!!!!!
(Everyone begins humming “Dynamite”, the Vanderbilt fight song)
You’re not walking out on this on, Mister. You’re going to watch Tennessee play Georgia this week on the SEC Network! You’re going to go to www.govols.com to read the post game stats!
If not, I’m going to call the SEC Office! I am going to revoke your SEC Championship game tickets! And if you wise guys start crying after a loss one more time, one more, I’m going to send Smokey to the Knox County Animal Shelter! No more howling of any kind!
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