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Week Football 7 Mail Bag: Answers to your Questions—Chicken Curse Edition

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You ask, we answer.

Vanderbilt v South Carolina Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

Questions froms WestEndMayhem & Nova_Dore:

Call me a sunshine pumper, but is it wrong that I woke up thinking that last night was not a “Same Ole Vandy” loss? It was a loss in the most frustratingly pathetic way, but it paradoxically has me optimistic.

Mason never had me thinking “this is one we should have won,” his losses were usually advertised 30 minutes in advanced and not 3.

Also, lol the Vawls are a national disgrace

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Looking at my bourbon glass which is at 1/2 capacity. Do I consider it half empty or half full after last night? While I wait for the answer, I will drain it.

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: Since I’m writing this two days after the fact and I’ve had time to reflect and am not just writing an angry postgame recap, let me say this: sometimes, the other team just makes the plays to win the game.

You know what a “Same Ole Vandy” loss is? That’s when your running back fumbles away a game-winning drive, and the other team then takes the ball and drives into field goal range against your deflated defense. It’s when you have a 1st and goal at the 4 and you bench your star running back for the next three plays, then get stuffed on fourth down, and then give up a 99-yard drive. This wasn’t that. I won’t comment on the decision to drop eight into coverage, because South Carolina still had to make the plays.

So, yeah. I see reasons for optimism that I didn’t see at any point in Derek Mason’s first year. An undermanned team went on the road and damn near won an SEC game. If you’re not seeing positives there, it’s because you don’t want to.

Doreontheplains: You all know I am all for looking for process type things that can indicate future success. As Tom broke down in The Statistical, the success was more about explosive plays on offense while the defense went high risk- high reward but managed not to give up big scoring plays except on their second drive. SC was able to get chunk plays, but the defense would then create a turnover or negative play to get off the field. It was a really well conceived and executed plan until the final drive.

The big play ability brought to the table by Mike Wright’s legs may not be the most reliable type of offense, but it brought a new dimension to the table. He was good at moments yet still less consistent than Seals has been. It was, at the very least, proof of what I have been saying about getting Wright on the field for a month.

Stanimal: Probably half full on the bourbon glass. I keep going back to this being team one. Also, I don’t think the Gamecocks are particularly good, but I do think there’s value in seeing how we stack against teams in and around where we should be/hope to be in the near future. Saturday was promising on that front. Losing the game is obviously awful, and the way we lost it was pretty bad, but for the other 58:30 of the game I felt like we outplayed them. That’s something.

Paul: In the heat of the moment, every fiber of me was saying “same old vandy” as I angrily texted the group text of angsty Vandy fans that is me, my dad, and my uncle. I mean, backup quarterback comes in with 2 minutes left to beat Vanderbilt is a new way to lose. My line for Vandy athletics is that they truly find the most creative ways to win that even Shakespeare couldn’t write.

After reflection, though, I am optimistic. Our whole mantra this season has been that if we can see Clark Lea’s team improve in some tangible fashion throughout the year, there would be at least a fighting hope that he is working to change the culture here. The win would have been so nice, but the ‘Dores did play with a sharpened edge for about 58 minutes.

Andrew VU ‘04: Hey Nova_Dore, you doing all right, buddy? I posted the call for submissions at 7am CT on a Sunday and closed it before noon. While we may advocate drinking during and immediately after Vanderbilt football games, we normally recommend stopping before, you know... the next morning.

Aside from that, while I am still boiling in rage at the decision to rush only three and go prevent defense for the entirety of that game-surrendering final drive—EVEN WHEN THE DOWN AND DISTANCE INCLUDED & GOAL FOR PINMAN’S SAKE?!?!?!—I can see the reason for optimism today.

The fact is, even though The Game Penises are terrible, those are SEC caliber athletes, halfway into the season, and we should have beaten them with our backup QB. Even with their D-Line in our backfield over and over, Mike Wright was able to run a pretty cromulent offense. Beyond that, the creative blitzes used time and again created pressure which led directly to multiple turnovers. Both of these aspects are extremely heartening.

Still...

I stand by this angry tweet in the All Caps dialect native to the Uncle you don’t want to get sucked into a conversation with on Thanksgiving:


Question from Tinioril, Jeturn, & BarnDore1950:

Let’s try to walk through Clark Lea’s thought process on that last drive. Is dropping 8 and rushing 3 a thing you can do successfully when you have Notre Dame-level talent? Did he just forget that he’s at Vanderbilt instead?

As my dad texted, “That ‘prevent’ defense hasn’t worked for the entire history of football.”

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In the pantheon of Vandy Football Coaching blunders, where does the decision to rush 3 and cover with 8 rank?

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God help us, but do we have yet another pretty decent coordinator that can’t manage a game from the sidelines? Maybe that’s a bad question, but I am still pissed about the defense on that last drive by South Carolina.

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: The funny thing is, I would actually rank “dropping eight into coverage” behind “kicking a field goal when you’re up by 3” in terms of decisions by the coaching staff on Saturday that contributed to defeat. Because yeah: kicking a field goal when you’re already up by 3 and you probably either won’t get the ball back or will be simply taking a knee when you do just doesn’t help you. A touchdown still beats you, and the only difference is that the other team can’t send it to overtime by kicking a field goal — which, actually, just prevents the other team’s coach from doing the dumb coach thing where they play for a 45-yard field goal to send the game to overtime. Shane Beamer absolutely would have done this if Clark Lea had gone for it and failed, you will not convince me otherwise.

As far as the decision to drop eight men into coverage: not great, but you were betting on South Carolina not going 75 yards in 96 seconds with no timeouts, and as I covered in the Statistical, when the prevent defense is giving up gains of 29 and 21 yards and allowing the receivers to get out of bounds to stop the clock, that’s an execution error, not a poor strategic decision. The concept is to just give you 10-15 yards in an effort to avoid getting beat deep, but that’s... well, that’s not exactly what happened there.

Doreontheplains: Watching it back put me very much in line with Tom. I was okay either way between FG or going for it at first.

Pressure is how the defense made plays all game. It might be risky there and give up a huge play, but the other team needs a TD. By that logic, make sure you have a safety deeper than anyone they have to save the TD and bring 5 rushers. That is easy to say from the couch. In Clark's defense, this decision was at least a death on the alter of "conventional wisdom," not finding a way to invent your own death.

Stanimal: Players gotta make plays. I’m not absolving CCL from liability here, because giving a quarterback time to make throws is never a good idea, but if you’re going to play prevent defense you MUST keep the offense in bounds. That’s the whole point. It’s one thing to give up quick throws and they dink and dunk. It’s another thing entirely to give up chunk plays which let them stop the clock. They had no timeouts. The ball should have been stopped in the field of play and we wouldn’t be having this argument. Additionally, when they are in the red zone, you just gotta play standard defense. You’re already in the advantage of a shortened field. No reason to make the job easier on the offense to advance the ball.

Paul: This part of the game still doesn’t sit with me. Having a defensive-minded coach should mean, if nothing else, high IQ defensive play calling, right? The only reasoning that I could think of was that with the backup QB entering the game so late, we essentially told USC that we’re gonna see if their backup can pick us apart on a last drive through the air. Looking at Zeb “the Zebula” Noland’s appearance and pedigree as a graduate assistant, he didn’t scream mobile QB.

The bigger blunder was not going for it on 4th and 5 deep in USC territory. If you told Coach Lea before the game that you’re going to have one five yard play to win it, he’d take it 10/10 times, especially since this season is all but shot.

As for these decisions indicating some kind of major flaw for Lea as a head coach or play caller, I’ll once again call for patience here. People forget that he’s only been a head coach for a few months. Of course, we’d like for him to come pre packaged with Saban-like instincts for such situations, but that’s simply not the case. Point to the improvement, not the result, and that’ll help you sleep at night (for now).

Andrew VU ‘04: You are all correct to be pissed about the 3 man rush prevent defense which “prevented us from winning.” There’s a reason cliches like that exist. Here’s the thing... though I would not have advocated for prevent defense at all, I understand it on the first part of that drive. You’re trying to bleed clock, keep the other team in bounds, and on and on.

What has me still fuming the next day is that we remained in prevent defense even when they had 1st and Goal. That was rank lunacy.

Here was my comment on the post-game thread (as this question will haunt the entire Clark Lea era):

WHO THE HELL, IN THE HISTORY OF FOOTBALL, PLAYS PREVENT DEFENSE IN AN & GOAL SITUATION?????

I’ve quite literally never seen that at any level.

I then tweeted this at our new beat reporter:

I don’t believe she asked it. Not in those words, at least.


Questions from Dinard’oh & McCaffreyFan:

Why the hell did vawl fans have golf balls at the game, and what do you think Lane did with the one he picked up when he got home?

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In a series of Tweets last night Donde Plowman said: “Neyland Stadium has always been a place for families, and we will keep it that way.”

Umm… I’ve been to that urine-soaked hellhole several times. What type of families is she referring to?

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: The kind of families you used to see working out their differences on the Jerry Springer Show.

As for why fans had golf balls at the game, sometimes, you just need to bring a golf ball because you never know when you’ll need to throw one at the opposing coach or the referee. I can’t decide if I’m issuing demerits for using a range ball or issuing points for not wasting a good golf ball on that.

Doreontheplains: Maybe they were using the golf ball as a Franzia stopper.

That statement and mental image also describes the type of families for which Neyland is appropriate.

Stanimal: Clearly they intended to chuck them at Kiffin. There’s really no other reason why they would. I think Tom hits on a good question and Andrew has a good analogy that plays in to that question. Batteries and golf balls are expensive! I blow more money on batteries than I have any desire to admit, mostly because my kids keep burning through them with their toys, and God knows that I lose golf balls like no one’s business. That’s why I buy the Wal-mart reuseable ball bags. Was the fleeting joy you got from throwing that crap at the guy who left you at the altar worth it? I guess that question is in the eye of the beholder.

I will say this for Tennessee fans, and I’m not suggesting that two wrongs make a right, or that “everybody does it” is a good argument, but they probably aren’t the only folks in the SEC who would.

Paul: Let’s put it this way: if there were a family feud category for “most likely things to bring to a football game,” I don’t think golf balls, or whole mustard bottles for that matter, would make the list of top survey responses. Play the numbers game for golf balls and it does make sense, however. Let’s say that 1% of people in Neyland played golf on Saturday before the game (kickoff was past 8:00 ET). That gives you north of 1,000 potential candidates to have left a ball in the pocket of their shorts that they also likely wore to the game that night. All the sudden, all you need is one or two of said golfers to develop the anger to heave said golf ball onto the cheerleaders, band, and Lane Kiffin, and that solves your mystery.

I will say, urine-soaked hellhole is a new term for me. What’s worse though, having fans that make your stadium a safety hazard? Or having no fans at all? If we’re being honest, it’s not an easy choice for me.

Andrew VU ‘04: I’ll go with a serious answer to the first one. They brought golf balls because they intended to throw them with the intent to injure Lane Kiffin. Much like a certain criminal element in Philly used to sneak D batteries into Phillies games to huck at J.D. Drew. Here’s the thing, though. There was a jail in the basement of Veteran’s Stadium. Those fans were identified, arrested, and banned from attending future games (and if they had season tickets, they were revoked). Neyland needs a jail now if not sooner. And they need to actually find and prosecute those criminals and all future criminals in attendance.

As for the 2nd question: families who all met their respective spouses at family reunions involving Franzia and funnels. Bonus point for the “urine-soaked hell hole” reference.


Question from Comstipplesacksoun & VandyBias:

What’s the feeling now on the Seals v Wright question?

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Considering the Game Penises collapsed the pocket and got great pressure on Mike a majority of times when Vandy tried to use him as a pocket passer, would this have been a blow out if Seals played? Also, if the coaching staff actually had more plays designed around Wright (and stopped running plays designed for Seals) and let him get to the edge and work his magic, does that change the outcome of the game entirely?

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: So I need more information before I can make that call, because here’s the thing: Mike Wright was facing a defense that had spent all week preparing to face Ken Seals. Basically, I want to see what Mike Wright does against a defense that’s geared up to stop him before I make any pronouncements that he needs to be the starter. You see this sometimes when a backup quarterback has to go into the game, they play on fire because they’re doing something that the defense hasn’t prepared for, and then they face a defense the next week that’s actually prepared to face that guy and you remember why this guy was the backup.

Not clear what would have happened if Seals played. Do I think that Seals could get the ball to Will Sheppard on a short route and then a South Carolina player misses a tackle and he’s gone to the end zone? Yeah, I could see that happening.

Doreontheplains: I love the explosiveness Wright brings. Down by down, he is not better than Seals. Seals led the offense to what should have been 13 first half points against Florida. I do not think Wright's natural, vocal leadership impacts Birmingham or Bulovas's case of the yoinks.

I am not saying Wright cannot take the job. That one performance did not show me much of anything I did not expect. Remember, Wright was 11/21. The accuracy is still an issue on short and intermediate throws. Also, he graded out to a 24.0 QBR, which includes rushing impact and is 13 points lower than all but the UGA and ETSU games for Seals.

Stanimal: I’m for Wright now. It may be a rush to judgment, but for where our offense is RIGHT NOW I think he’s a better option thanks to his running ability. He showed me enough passing to make me want to see him start another game. I can easily flip this switch again, but he kept the Gamecock defense on their heels.

As for question two, the offense is kind of the offense. It’s not even really sure what kind of offense it is, because it can’t even be sure who is calling it’s plays. Yes, I am personifying the offense. The point is, it needs a substantial, if not a full, redesign. But again, it’s team one.

Paul: Screw it. I’m all in on Mike Wright. If we are following Vandy for entertainment, I think watching Mike run wild and make some guys look silly is a hell of a lot more entertaining than Ken Seals (as much as I love him as a player and teammate) run whatever that read option is and throw it to his first read every time.

It seems like our ceiling is higher with Mike at QB, so let’s ride it out until he gives us a reason to believe otherwise.

Andrew VU ‘04: If I’m Clark Lea, this is Mike Wright’s team from here on out. (*Note: If I’m Clark Lea, I’d have a lot more money, a lot less hair, and would have likely suffered some sort of traumatic brain injury in the past which caused me to call for a prevent defense when the down and distance includes “& Goal.”) Not only does Wright possess the skillset necessary to play behind a weak offensive line, but he’s an electric athlete and a natural leader. There really shouldn’t be a debate anymore, even if it results in Ken Seals entering the transfer portal. I can now say I am of the mind that Mike Wright gives us the best chance to win both this year and in the remaining years of his eligibility. He’s my QB1 now. If Lincoln Reilly can bench a pre-season Heisman Favorite in Spencer Rattler because Caleb Williams outplayed him, Clark Lea should be able to make the same call.


Question from Parlagi & Jeturn:

What punishment do you personally think the SEC should hand down after Saturday night?

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The Gods of Fate have frowned upon you and have mysteriously made you the Provost of THEM. What specific actions do you take to prevent the the fans’ actions of last night from happening again?

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: The SEC should go all UEFA/FIFA and tell Tennessee they don’t get to have fans at their home games for the remainder of the season. The SEC will not do this, because the SEC effectively looks at what happened in Knoxville on Saturday night and says “It’s all part of the experience, honey.”

What really gets me is that the SEC throws a fit about fans rushing the field after a game, which in theory could potentially be dangerous for the players and coaches on the field but in practice is mostly harmless, but issues a sternly-worded letter in response to an actual intent to harm that has literally never been present in a post-game field (or court) storming.

Doreontheplains: I am about to throw things since everyone stole my suggestion of using soccer's "Closed Doors" policy. You all hate the sport. Do not borrow from it. Since I am late answering this, the $250K fine is appropriate.

Soccer also has a number of stadiums known for truly awful hooligan behavior that have prison-like fences between fans and playing surface. They also have the first row well back from the field of play, so maybe bar off the first 20 rows.

Stanimal: So this might not be a popular take, but who cares? We lost our own damn game, and we know they suck. Sorry to throw a bucket of water on the question, but this question is somewhat rhetorical . Totally predictable they’d throw crap on the field, totally predictable neither the school nor the SEC will do anything of much substance.

Paul: I had a friend at the game who said that the scene there was a lot worse than TV made it look, which is hard to believe. Given he was an Ole Miss alum, but their opinions can matter from time to time, right?

It’s a hard punishment to make in my mind. As bad as the scene was, I’d imagine that the strong majority of those hurling items onto the field were students, and that even then that was a small minority of the total fans there. In the interest of purely impartial journalism, the few times I’ve been to Neyland, I sat next to perfectly pleasant fans who were just there watching the game. For whatever reason, however, Tennessee does seem to have a potential for uglier behavior at times.

Honestly, just put a giant one of those nets for foul balls that they have for baseball games in front of the student section for the rest of the season. That will serve as a barrier to protect the band/cheerleaders, and the principle behind it will surely make the Vol Fans’ blood boil.

Andrew VU ‘04: 1) Death by Obliteration. 2) See #1.


Question from HeavyDore:

Am I bad person for actually enjoying Lane Kiffin being in the SEC? He is venturing in to Spurrier territory with his trolling of other teams.

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: Kiffin really is Spurrier (both in terms of offensive genius and ability to troll opposing fans), but if Spurrier had Twitter and did this with it:

Doreontheplains: He has matured a bit. Kiffin's early antics came off as whiny and entitled. Now, he is full on troll mode. I think Spurrier was more clever. Kiffin tends to hit the low-hanging fruit. The comparison is still appropriate. Yes, I love it.

Stanimal: I love Kiffin for the same reason people like WWE, and that’s pretty much the same reason people loved Spurrier. So yes, you’ve nailed it.

Paul: I have loved Kiffin ever since he put Tennessee in their place by leaving for USC after one season. I also think he’s grown more humble and likable over the years, so its overall good for the SEC in my mind. He’ll score 60+ points against us later this year, but whatever.

Andrew VU ‘04: I totally get this. Though Kiffin is a sniveling little weasel, he really manages to get under the skin of THOSE WHO SHALL NOT BE NAMED. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. For now.


Question from Nova_Dore:

Franklin was 9-4 in each of his last two seasons. I seem toi [sic] remember Jordan Matthews winning a few games single-handily. What would his record had been if Matthews wasn’t there, and would does Franklin really owe his success to Matthews?

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: I’d guess Matthews was worth a win or two each year so you’d probably be looking at 7-6/8-5. Still fine.

Doreontheplains: I think it goes hand-in-hand. Franklin got the absolute most out of that group. They also happened to be a gold mine of hidden gems left from Bobby Johnson. A few guys who were not necessarily the standouts still played for a long time in the NFL or CFL.

Stanimal: Not enough people talk about this, but during James Franklin’s tenure Vanderbilt ranked #18 and #19 in total defense. Stacy and Matthews were great and those teams managed to create offense, but I thought Bob Shoop did his best work while he was at Vandy. I know he left us with Franklin and obviously then went to Tennessee, but he did some magic with those defenses.

Paul: Very strange because I was actually thinking about Jordan Matthews this week for some reason. Jmatt had some monster games and individual plays for us that certainly won us games. In particular, the 4th and 18 catch against Wake Forrest his senior year singlehandedly gave Franklin his 8th win of that season in a game Vandy had no business winning.

Don’t kill me for this, but is Matthews being a relative flop in the NFL at all an indication of how good of a coach/motivator Franklin was? The SEC’s all time leading receiver should have had more than a meh NFL career in my mind.

Andrew VU ‘04: Zac Stacy also won a few seemingly single-handedly. As did Casey Heyward. Listen, we all know The Old Bald Poach owes a debt of gratitude to Bobby Johnson for leaving the program with enough top-end talent to succeed. Still, you saw what The Turkey Inseminator did with said talent, right? Franklin has earned all of his accolades from us, and then some.


Question from Admiral Snack Bar:

When will people comes back to their senses and stop calling for a 1st-year coach’s head after every loss?

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: When the internet is no longer a thing.

In all seriousness, I kind of get the emotional posts in the game thread or for an hour or two postgame. What I don’t get is going off on that at 4 PM on a Wednesday as though the wound is still fresh. At that point you should be thinking rationally and not just angrily tweeting through something that happened on Saturday.

The other thing here is that we all know Clark Lea is getting three years at an absolute minimum and if you’re not going to be happy because the guy you decided was a dud after seven games is being given the standard amount of time to turn things around, then you’re probably not going to be happy.

Doreontheplains: Probably when morons* stop defending coaches for way too long. Those people feed the idea you have to light the torchforks early to get results.

Also, welcome to the internet.

*I am morons. Morons is me.

Stanimal: In fairness, it’s good that our fan base has some people who still demand the HC’s head after every loss. It means that even though the body appears to be lifeless, there’s still a little blood pumping!

Paul: I love that Vandy fans have the nerve to say such things. As absurd as it is to call for Lea’s head after a few games, it does give Vanderbilt even some sort of standards for its program. Maybe we start saying it after wins, too.

Andrew VU ‘04: Perhaps I can clear some of this up from our end. I can get a bit emotional during games (justifiably, in my opinion, of course), and am not immune to saying things for rhetorical effect, like this, after Lea decided to go prevent defense even after it was 1st & Goal, thereby giving the game away without a fight:

One, that’s just good wordplay. Two, and here’s where you may disagree with me, that’s actually not me calling for him to be fired. When we at AoG call for a coach to be fired, we do it like this, or this, or this. In other words, when I, Tom, DotP, or anyone else who writes for AoG, believes a coach needs to be fired, we say so, in print. We write a full article outlining our reasons why. We make our case.

Clark Lea should not be fired right now. He should learn from this, though. If in the next few years, he doesn’t improve the talent of the roster through both ‘crootin and development; demonstrate a clear, focused plan; make strong hires on staff; or if the prevent defense surrendering tactics from this week’s game become not an outlier, but a pattern; then, I will call for his Shine-O-Ball-O of a head. You’ll know. We won’t shrink away from conflict. We’ll say directly why. In print. With reasons.

Now, it’s all frustration speaking. If you’re not frustrated after Zeb! made us all “please clap” our way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, I don’t know what to tell you.


Question from Vault Boy:

Last night was pure coaching malpractice. What does HCCL need to do moving forward to regain your trust? Is it even possible?

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: Was it? Serious question.

You can’t just assume that any old coaching staff would have had the game in a place where end-of-game coaching decisions mattered enough to be second-guessed after the fact. Derek Mason, after all, lost 41-7 to the Game Penises just last season and I don’t recall anyone questioning his late-game decisions because they didn’t fucking matter. So you have to at least give the coaching staff credit for what happened over the first 58 and a half minutes even if they had a complete brain fart in the last minute and a half, and as I’ve discussed on multiple occasions, I don’t believe that the strategy itself failed as much as the players failed to execute it. What I’m really saying here is that if the coaching staff rushes four and South Carolina scores on a 75-yard touchdown pass because of a breakdown in coverage, I’m not any happier about that outcome just because there isn’t some strategic error that I can directly blame on the coaching staff.

Doreontheplains: Clark died by conventional wisdom. It is stupid, but I did not lose trust in him. His comments since the game suggest he realized conventional wisdom needs to be trashed at unconventional places like Vanderbilt. Whether he does it every time is to be seen.

Stanimal: Eh.....I’ve seen WORSE coaching. It wasn’t great, but it was what the traditionalists would probably do. If you want to skewer him for that I wouldn’t begrudge you because traditionalism isn’t good coaching in a high passing league, but again if they keep SC in bounds we’re probably all in a better mood.

Paul: See above, but “progress” has been and will continue to be my motto for evaluating HCCL this season. The lapses at the end of the USC game were painful and made me shout a few choice words at the TV and loved ones, but I sure felt a hell of a lot better about that game than I did some other games this year.

Andrew VU ‘04: For me, it’s certainly possible. If he sticks with Mike Wright at QB1, keeps the kids playing as hard as they did for the first 58:30 of the South Cackalacky game, employs creative blitzes like we saw for the first 58:30 of the South Cackalacky game, and maybe even knocks off that Big XII school in Missourah, he’ll be well on his way to gaining my trust. The team must show improvement and Lea must stop shooting himself in the foot. Because that last 1:30 of the South Cackalacky game was indefensible. He should be both angry and embarrassed by what he did at the end of that game, and never put the team in such an obvious position to lose again.


Question from Your Uncle Mike:

After having a really crappy sports Saturday, I woke up Sunday to see what happened to THEM and laughed and laughed. Is that wrong?

Answers from AoG:

Tom Stephenson: Actually the funniest part of this is that they completely lost their shit about a call that the referees got right, both on the field and on review. That’s entitlement. That’s a fan base that claims that they’ve been through a lot over the last fifteen years when their worst season in that stretch was basically an average season of Woodyball, and when a lot of the things they’ve been through are of their own creation, like when their 2017 coaching search turned into a circus because they didn’t like that their athletic director hired a guy who only won at Rutgers. I can think of about 20-30 Power 5 programs that have had it worse over the last 15 years than Tennessee has, but those programs don’t believe that they are entitled to watch a good football team for no other reason than that 100,000 of them show up to Neyland Stadium. It’s the kind of attitude that leads you to tweet things like this at people who didn’t pick a team based on how much that team wins.

And that’s what this is really about. Most fans of THEM are not wired to support a team that doesn’t win. When they realize their team is a loser, they don’t handle it very well. When they realize that unlike LSU, this isn’t going to be fixed overnight by simply hiring a different coach, they really lose it. So yes, please laugh at this.

Doreontheplains: Enjoy sports where you can. Always.

Stanimal: Not at all! I don’t want to sound like a hypocrite after being unduly harsh towards the previous mailbag question (sorry about that!). ANYTHING that happens with Tennessee like that is laughable and enjoyable in the way that Florida Man news articles are funny. You just know they are crazy and they keep embarrassing themselves and it’s satisfying. It’s a totally reasonable response. I am just highly doubtful anything meaningful is done about it by the school or by the SEC. I’ll gladly eat crow is something does happen.

Paul: Tennessee incompetency and heartbreak is all we have at this point. Enjoy it. After the events of Saturday night, seeing fan bases from all over the country come to realize the reality we’ve all known for years about Tennessee fans gave me a newfound joy. And now we have a pending lawsuit from Jeremy Pruitt against the university? Grab your popcorn, Uncle Mike. I think the party is just getting started.

Andrew VU ‘04: It would be wrong if you didn’t. No, it would be beyond wrong. It would be against natural law.

Of course, all I can think about is who the hell brings their own bottle of yellow mustard to a sporting event? If you’re a mustard snob, I could kind of get it, but then you would have Grey Poupon or some type of stone ground and/or bespoke spicy mustard, right? But French’s Yellow? That’s quite literally the crap in the packets you’ll be given when you go to the concession stand. Does this person just walk around with a full bottle of crappy yellow mustard all day, every day? Is this just something Chuggers fans do now? I once dated a girl who kept a bottle of Crystal hot sauce in her purse, as she couldn’t stand Tabasco, so I am somewhat experienced in this arena. Regardless, Adam Sparks is now the beat writer at The Tennessean, and I am going to tweet this at him right now. It may well be the most important bit of investigative journalism he ever does.

The great mystery of our times.