There’s a saying that fans have been yelling in stadiums since the days of the gladiators.
Other sports cliches carry the same meaning. “Hit ‘em in the mouth,” “Take ‘em to the woodshed,” and former University of Tennessee quarterback Bobby Scott’s favorite, “Whip their fannies,” come to mind.
Gen. Robert Neyland’s game maxims at UT include the instruction to “carry the fight to our opponent and keep it there for 60 minutes.”
Former coach Johnny Majors was famous for his “attack, attack, attack, always attack” pre-game talks.
Five times UT coach Phillip Fulmer has laid at least 60 points on Vol opponents.
So why all the crying this week that Florida took the fight to Tennessee for the full 60 minutes last Saturday?
“Urban Meyer ran it up.” “Urban Meyer showed no class.” “Mommy, that big boy was mean to me.” Oops, I haven’t actually heard anyone say that last one, but they might as well have.
Even some of the players complained in the post-game locker room. Do you think Al Wilson or Dale Jones would have ever complained that someone stuck it to them? Please. They’d have been too busy angrily chewing through their chinstraps and plotting revenge.
Shoot, even Fulmer admitted to biting his tongue regarding Florida’s fourth-quarter antics.
What the heck ever happened to “attack, attack, attack?”
There shouldn’t be any whining, weeping, crying, or complaining from anyone in Vol Nation about Meyer’s “go for the throat” mentality.
Tennessee has laid serious points on its opponents in the past.
Try 70 versus outmanned Louisiana-Monroe. Or 65 against Vanderbilt. The Vols have pinned 48 or more on (formerly) hapless Kentucky six times under Fulmer.
Dating to 1967, Tennessee has dropped 50 digits on an opponent 26 times. Eighteen of those were overseen by the current regime.
“But those UT teams were so much better than their opponents they couldn’t help but score.”
Newsflash: That was actually the Gators’ back-up quarterback waltzing through Vol defenders at the end of Saturday’s game. Do you really think quarterback Tim Tebow couldn’t have easily been in there further dissecting a befuddled secondary?
“But Tennessee never intentionally ran it up on anyone.”
Does anyone else remember the 1993 game against Louisville at Neyland Stadium? The one with the gimmicky reverse on a punt return with five minutes to play and a 28 point lead? Nilo Silvan took the ball from Cory Fleming and raced 69 yards down the west sideline to give the Vols their final 45-10 cushion.
After that bit of trickery, Cardinals coach Howard Schnellenberger appeared to be fuming more than his trademark pipe.
So it’s time for us to start wiping away those crocodile tears. The Vols have been on the plus side of many, many routs in the last 20 years. It’s just that the folks ‘round here enjoyed every numeral of those games.
At the time, Vol fans simply said what Florida fans are saying this week: “If you don’t like it, then stop us.”
Teams from Louisville to Louisiana-Monroe couldn’t stop UT in the past.
This past Saturday, Tennessee couldn’t stop Florida.
The Gators were playing for the pollsters who’ll eventually help to determine who’ll play in the BCS championship game. Meyer clearly thinks his guys will be in the running again this January.
Of those who witnessed Saturday’s game, who could argue?
The fact is, Florida pummeled Tennessee, and the Gators continued to do so right up until the final whistle blew. The Vols had to take it.
I think it’s time Tennesseans start worrying about returning the favor in 2008. They shouldn’t be wasting time whining.
The whining just makes it look like Tennessee is a wounded gladiator lying on the sand of the Coliseum, an opponent’s sword pointing at their neck, left only to pray that the Emperor doesn’t give the “thumbs down” signal.
Complaining just means that Tennessee has gone from a program that used to show “no mercy” to a program that’s left begging for mercy.
And I don’t think that’s the message Vol fans, players or coaches really want to be sending right now.
John Pennington hosts the Hall’s Salvage Sports Source on Sunday at 11 a.m. on WATE.