As football season winds on, it seems that a primary source of joy in Nashville has been the suffering of others. Tonight, the schadenfraude gods smiled down upon the faithful. While Vanderbilt was busy thrashing Southern Indiana Monday night, the rest of the SEC wasn't nearly as successful. Tennessee and Auburn dropped games to D-II teams, while Alabama needed double overtime to polish off their own over-matched opponent.
Tennessee's loss was especially life-affirming, as the Volunteers gave up 25 turnovers and a 20-3 run to let the University of Indianapolis come away with a 79-64 victory in the team's final exhibition game. UT gave up 47 points to their opponents starting backcourt and were outscored 47-24 in the second half. Melvin Goins described the loss as "embarrassing," something that Vanderbilt fans, coming off a solid month of terrible losses on the gridiron, had recognized somewhere in the midst of the second half.
Every member of the Volunteers' roster had at least one turnover, and the #20 ranked team in the country suffered a big loss to a team that went 12-16 in 2009-2010. To be fair, the Greyhounds were a tough opponent for another Division I team last week when they lost to Southern Illinois by only seven points,and scored another top tier victory last season by beating Valparaiso. Still, there's no way that tonight's performance can be seen as a good omen in the face of a potentially turbulent season.
This was the highest profile exhibition loss in the country since #8 Michigan State lost in double overtime to Grand Valley State. On one hand, Volunteer fans can look at the Spartans' Sweet Sixteen run afterward as a positive sign. Conversely, they should also worry that MSU wasn't blown out by 15 points in their loss and Grand Valley State ended up posting a 30-0 regular season record that year. Simply put, Indianapolis is no Grand Valley State. Somewhere, we just won an award for being the first people to ever write that on a sports blog in the history of mankind.
In other, slightly less satisfying news, Auburn dropped an exhibition game to Columbus State, losing 52-54, but failed to make much noise since they're in line for a rough season as it is. Alabama barely avoided disaster as well, needing two extra periods to polish off Alabama-Huntsville 73-68. UAH's Zane Campbell, who led the Chargers against Vandy last week, put up a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds in the loss.
In all, a rough night for the SEC, but a great night for those of us who take joy in the failure of others. Tennessee's loss doesn't mean anything in the record books, and probably won't have much of an effect on their season, but you better believe it will resonate in student sections across the southeast. Memorial Maniacs, take note; University of Indianapolis t-shirts are just $12.95 at their online bookstore.