Strange: Stink in the swamp won't go away

As if the final score wasn't pain enough. As if any insult needs to be piled on when you've been embarrassed 59-20 on national TV by an arch-rival.

Now, a year later, there's more.

One of Florida's best players said that Tennessee quit last year in Gainesville on the Vols' most embarrassing day of the season.

Brandon Spikes, the All-SEC middle linebacker, was quoted in a Florida newspaper Tuesday as saying Tennessee "quit playing" last year. He was referring to a fourth quarter in which Florida scored 24 unanswered points to hand Phillip Fulmer his worst loss as a head coach.

Spikes also repeated a story that circulated last year immediately after the game in the same newspaper, Florida Today. Derek Baldry, a special-teams player, said a UT player told Baldry not to worry about blocking him on an extra point in the fourth quarter because he was too tired to rush.

A rehash this week was inevitable, given the renewal of the SEC Eastern Division rivalry Saturday in Neyland Stadium.

UT players and coaches did not look forward to the weekly Media Day on Tuesday. They knew last year's humiliation was on the docket.

Defensive coordinator John Chavis: "That's certainly not a performance we're real proud of.''

Defensive end Wes Brown: "Anytime you lose it's tough, but when you get it put on you like that, it's really tough.''

Assistant coach Steve Caldwell: "It was embarrassing as a coach, for them to line up and just go score, it looked like at will, just go running up and down the field.''

And tailback Arian Foster:

"It was demoralizing.''

But the Vols really didn't like having to respond to the charge that they had quit.

Any athlete or coach who puts in the time and effort required to survive at the highest level in college athletics thinks of him- or herself as a competitor until the clock expires.

Some days the performance is better than other days. The Vols know that, bottom line, their performance stunk that day in The Swamp.

But they'll never say it was because they quit.

"My father never allowed me to quit anything I did,'' Foster said. "The principal of quitting isn't in our family.

"I'm not a quitter and my teammates are not quitters.''

Added Brown, "It's not even part of our vocabulary.''

Chavis said Spikes is "a mighty fine player and I respect what he gets done on the field.''

End of comment.

"That probably comes from the coaches,'' head coach Phillip Fulmer said. "That was probably said somewhere and they were just repeating what the coaches said.

"We (UT's defense) were on the field much too long in the third quarter and we got gassed. I don't think our players quit.''

That UT's defense was gassed is indisputable.

Florida led from the time it first touched the ball, an 83-yard punt return touchdown by Brandon James. It was 28-13 at halftime.

But Eric Berry's interception return for a touchdown made it 28-20 midway of the third quarter. A heckuva game at that point, Fulmer says.

Not for long. A fumbled handoff between Erik Ainge and Foster was returned for a Florida score. That opened the floodgates.

Here's as incredible a stat as you'll ever see in football: In the third quarter, Florida had the ball 14 minutes, 33 seconds.

UT had it 27 seconds.

"Regardless of how well conditioned you are, that's just too long,'' said Dan Brooks, who coaches UT defensive tackles.

"And it's not like anybody's going to feel sorry for you because you're tired, so you've got to go finish the game.

"That was hard. It was a long day.''

Saturday will be another day, another three or so hours in the pageant of Tennessee's most colorful current rivalry.

Fulmer said it wasn't necessary to remind his team of the indignity suffered last year. But that, yes, he planned to anyway.

"If they don't respect us,'' he added of Florida, "then why are they practicing?''

As for the players, they know as well they don't need to be reminded. But if Spikes insists . . .

"It's not a game I'd like to forget,'' said linebacker Rico McCoy without any trace of a smile.

"It's a game I'd like to make up for. We'll see what happens this Saturday.''

Mike Strange may be reached at 865-342-6276 or strangem@knoxnews.com.

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Comments » 63

Reasonavol writes:

woo hoo. Go vols

Reasonavol writes:

I never heard the 14 minutes 33 seconds stat before today.

Reasonavol writes:

Last year when we were whinning that they ran the score up on us, my thoughts were don't be a team that other teams are capable of running the score up.

WeLoveTennesseeVols writes:

I guess that Florida quit when it lost those three games. And did we quit at Kentucky, Vandy, etc. Did we win those games?? Did Florida play against LSU? And did we almost beat LSU??? Did LSU win the nationalchampionship last year?? These kids play for us, we are the beggers and losers in life, that' s why we root for these kids to win for us. I don't care if we lose 150 to nothing. These kids still have my respect, just to be on the field and going to practice all year long. So we got beat 59 to 20, we've beaten a whole lot of teams by similar scores too. Did anybody ever, and i mean ever accuse them of quitting??? We'll win our share because Fulmer doesn't try to rub his victories in his opponents faces. And because we have the best fans. And we've got the best players. If we believed in them more, they all be like John Henderson, Albert Haysworth, etc. If you don't believe, then find things to pick at, like you name it!! We don't need you as our friends and fans. We can beat the Florida team, i know this.

volintexas writes:

There were some lean years at the low point of the Bill Battle years. There were some tough times during the Majors rebuilding era, including when Georgia and USC outscored the Vols 88-7 to open up the 81 season. However, I don't EVER recall ANYONE talking about Tennessee quitting. Moreover, this isn't the first time this garbage has come up in the Fulmer era. Nebraska players were saying the same things in the late 90's debacles with the Huskers. Teams are coming into Neyland and stomping on the T. Teams are talking about us quitting. This nonsense needs to end. The General is rolling over in his grave. Fulmer needs to take a page out of Mark Richt's playbook and send a message to the trash talking Gators. Somebody should be getting in Spikes' face and knocking him silly regardless of whether a penalty flag is flown. This quitting malaise has to be put to bed once and for all.

hcjournals#206623 writes:

Hate is a strong word.........

Use it carefully............

Hate the Gators.............

They are showing us zero respect.

45-3. Let's start there. I was there.

34-32.......We made Spurrier retire.......That's respect.......I was there.

They are the new Alabama........Even worse. They think about us like we think about Alabama or Georgia. Like we are always better than them.

I don't know about you...

But I don't want anyone thinking they are better than us.....ever.......

Payback is Hell.

Payback.........

Is now.............

vtvol#210290 writes:

Our young men need to come out "mad as hell" and fired up. If last year's b!tch-slapping and subsequent face rubbing doesn't draw the ire of current players nothing will. Florida is Tennessee's biggest rival; it shouldn't take bulletin board material to get the players' juices flowing. Fulmer is sometimes too nice a guy and way too much of a gentleman. He needs to put a bounty out on Tebow: nothing in the way of a cheap shot but if one of the UT players is close to getting a personal foul on a late hit, he better make it count. If somebody happens to twist Harvin's ankle on the way out of the pile, so be it. Tennessee needs to repond to this personally and abuse the reptiles mercilessly. Leave them hurt and bloodied so by game's end they will know they were in a battle. It is time for Tennessee to return to its roots of physical football.

P.S. On an unrelated note, if, perchance, the Vols get to run the victory formation at the end of the game, Fulmer needs to audible to an empty backfield five wide set and wing it down the field. I'd love to see Urban Myth get a dose of what he deserves.

ibvolman writes:

I'd like to see us hang 60 on the gators. If there isn't enough motivation for this team to be up and play to thier full potential, then nothing can or will ever motivate them.

bluetick writes:

If the Vols don't come out strong, ready to play and hang some points on the board then the defense could be out there a long time again. This should be used as bulletin board material. That is exactly what we need!!

nholme31#209815 writes:

GO VOLS!!!!!!!!!!!

hcjournals#206623 writes:

Touchdown:

Traitor...

hcjournals#206623 writes:

You too, bamacheats......

hcjournals#206623 writes:

Gatorzz

Shut up..........This is our week..........

Go Vols!

volfaninchattanooga writes:

We need some players like Dale Jones and Al Wilson who will battle until the very last play. Does anyone know who that player was that supposedly said "I'm too tired to rush"? Was that players name ever released?

hcjournals#206623 writes:

Great post Slovog

United we stand.....Divided we are Florida....

dvols writes:

mmmmmmmmmm.......tacos

pdhuff#552644 writes:

Now if Cooter still had his 8th year of elgibility, he could spell Crompton for a bit.

hcjournals#206623 writes:

DC

After we beat Spurrier in the swamp, he quit......

Remember that?

We do....

Look it up if you don't remember....

Your hero............

Retired after we beat him...........

So did Bear Bryant...........

So before you come in here disrespecting us...

Remember this.............

This is our week.......

We won the East last year. You didn't , did you?

Respect that.......

I hate the Gators.....

Go Vols!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

MajorVol writes:

Just win baby!!!

Mr_Brownstone writes:

Vol players, coaches, and staff: Time to MAN UP!

tennisvol writes:

Meyer will beat TN as much as he can. He will try and score with a few seconds left even though he has the game in hand. Just like against TN last year and Miami this year (kicking a field goal with with only 25 seconds left for a 26-3 victory).

Lofton4Three writes:

hcjournals-

How many glasses of Kool-Aid have you drank this morning?

Waldorf writes:

Maybe instead of a superman cape this year, Coleman is wearing around a sign that says "quitter" on it instead as motivation for the players.

I don't care how mad or fired up we are for this game. Only way we have a chance is if Florida beats themselves. If they play their game (which I expect) it may be uglier than last year.

Fire Fulmer.

Fire Hamilton.

1974Vol writes:

As a Vol fan I am prepared for a close game in which we lose, a la 2006 in Knoxville 20-21, Florida is a more talented team afterall. But if we are not the more fired up, physical team Saturday after the disrespect Spikes and others have spewed, then this team and program will have lost alot more than just another game to Florida. Guys, especially in the trenches need to win their individual battles; LB's bring the hurt on your tackles, play hard nosed Tennessee Football the way Bob Johnson, Chip Kell, Al Wilson, Jack Reynolds, Tim Townes & Bobby Majors played it. Then the score board will take care of itself.

Lofton4Three writes:

It's a shame that this program has got to the point that our head coach is having to use the old trick of being disrespected. The reason that we are disrespected is, we have a coach that is so out of touch with today's game, that he is literally the laughing stock of the SEC. What happened to the UT program that lined it up for 60 minutes and beat people's brains in. Don't give me the excuses or the battle cries Fulmer, give us a W...or do the right thing and let someone in that can give us W's.

johnlg00 writes:

Much as I hate to agree with a Florida fan, DCFlorida has a point. The time when a sense of being disrespected does the most good is in the off-season when it fuels a player to go for one more rep on the bench-press, one more more sprint, one more trip up the stadium steps when he thinks he is already exhausted. Too much false, rah-rah emotion on game day MAY get an exceptional effort on the first series or two. It is MORE likely to lead to false starts, off-sides, late hits, overthrown passes, fumbles stretching for that extra yard, etc. Even if it works in the first quarter, all that extra adrenaline burns off quickly and leads to a serious crash in energy level later in the game. I hope that, however enthusiastic our fans get, our players come out cold-eyed and determined to execute every play efficiently and with full follow-through and keep doing it the entire game. "Revenge is a dish best served cold."--Shakespeare. GO VOLS!!! BEAT THE GATORS!!!

skinalive#242458 writes:

I've been as critical of Fulmer as anyone but it is not a 'tactic' to say they are dissing the Vols. Florida is a loudmouthed 21st century version of the Miami Hurricanes.

I never make predictions but I wouldn't count this as a lay-down victory for Florida. It wouldn't surprise be one iota if UT busts Florida in the mouth and takes this game.

For this week, I'm laying off the criticism of Fulmer and saying: Knock the d**k off the Gators!

1974Vol writes:

Johnlg00 Ditto your comments except one thing. A late hit or two early even it costs us a 15 yarder or two may not be a bad thing. It sends a message that the gloves are off. Remember the whole Georgia team rushing the field last year after their first score in the "cocktail party" game? Best penealty the dawgs got all year.

cjraney writes:

Rico McCoy hasn't played worth a d*mn this season. I hope he's been saving up for the gators.

stinky_pinky writes:

I'm sick of the f'n turnncoats on this board....

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

volintexas...if I remember right, bill battle had one bad year...but that was all it took for the homeys to run him out, cause he was a bama boy.

johnlg00 writes:

I see your point, 1974Vol, but that can backfire. We don't need to be giving them big chunks of free yardage and keeping drives alive. It can also fire them up to a higher level in case they come in believing we are quitters and take us lightly. Also, I don't know if any of you saw the Panthers-Bears game Sunday, but the Bears were dominating the Panthers until Lance Briggs put a shoulder into Jake Delhomme's head on a slide. Jake jumped up yelling and cursing and the team latched onto his emotion and the Panthers rolled the rest of the way to a win. All I'm saying is that that really emotional approach can go either way. I don't think emotion will be our major concern in this game--our level of execution should be and will be. Who would you rather have on your side in a bar fight, a wild-eyed, flailing drunk or a cool-headed martial-arts master/Special Forces professional? GO VOLS!!! BEAT THE GATORS!!!

agentorange writes:

Jim Bob Cooter for President

CoastGuardVol writes:

GO VOLS!!!! Enough said.

hcjournals#206623 writes:

Bama: At least I'm not a traitor....

vance2002#327500 writes:

We'll suffer through another customary Gator victory and we'll find our coaches apologizing to the fan base once again. Fulmer v. Meyer is an unfair fight any day of the week. The team that normally wins these "big games" (and let's be honest, this game is no longer "big" for FL nor really a rivarly any longer) is the team thats PREPARED and WELL COACHED - and - the team that can EXECUTE. I remember watching Spur-Dog dismantle a more talented UT team several times in the 90's. Recall, Peyton NEVER concquered the Gator's. But this is what one must suffer through in order to get a program change and overhaul - both FL & AL understand that principal!

RichmondVol42 writes:

Seriously, It's "fans" like these that make UT a laughing stock to the rest of college football.
I've got my complaints about coaching, etc. too, as every fan does. However, I'm not letting that get in the way of the fact that I'm a Vol fan, which means SUPPORT THE TEAM.
If we end up getting beat Saturday like we are supposed to, then it's on to the next game and working our way back to the top of the SEC East, JUST LIKE LAST YEAR.
However, if we play like we can, there is no doubt in my mind we can earn a W.
If all you can do is sit around and whine about how we're supposed to get crushed, go find another team to affiliate yourself with, and let the true Big Orange fans support their team on this site.

grogpaw#362163 writes:

I have refrained from making a post so far this season but alas, this continuing debate about respect is ridiculous. If you want respect, earn it. As far as football goes, respect has to be earned each and every year, each and every game, each and every quarter, and yes, each and every play. Furthermore, as a fan, it doesn't matter whether or not if I respect our beloved Vols or even if I respect or hate our bitter enemy the Gators.

rockytoptilidie writes:

Hey guys, it has been a while. I posted a bit a few years ago while in Iraq, but haven't in the last couple of years.

My take - this is pathetic. I read things like this article and it's shameful. I have no doubt that Florida "respects" the talent at the University of Tennessee, but when I read our comments, it's almost as if our guys (coaching staff especially) is afraid to piss Florida off.

This is FLORIDA week. Even when they were having their way with us, I remember our guys wanting to hit (insert QB name here) in the mouth and saying as much. Now, it seems as if we're afraid of giving them more fuel.

I don't know what the answer is, and I'm not going to agree or disagree with the "Fulmer must go" crowd. Thus far, I'm not terribly impressed with Clawson's playcalling, and I HIGHLY doubt that we've been holding anything back. If ANYTHING, I think we've seen that what we have been doing isn't getting the job done and it's time to make some major changes.

My notes about this edition of the Vols:
-Something is wrong with Crompton, maybe both physical and mental. No swagger, no confidence, no mobility. This isn't the guy that I saw v. LSU 2 years ago.

-While I think Cut still has Majors' playbook, he was able to do one thing - use our QB talent and hide our weaknesses. Ainge took a lot of heat about "3 and throw", Crompton has made Ainge look like Manning.

-Our D-line is atrocious. It sucks
-20,000+ empty seats in Neyland Stadium will spell doom for Fulmer.

I'm afraid our boys are now flat out afraid of Florida.

My heart? Vols 23 Gators 21
My head? Gators 48 Vols 13

volboy81#211803 writes:

1990:
Tennessee 45
Florida 3

they seem to have gotten over that....we can get over last year!

GO VOLS!

murrayvol writes:

johnlg: Well said in both posts. Keep the hits clean but keep them coming for 60 minutes. The Vols may not win this game but I'm hoping Florida will leave Neyland checking for all their body parts.

mparker @ 9:57: You remember wrong. It started w/the illfated fake punt in 73' and went straight downhill from there.

Waldorf writes:

RichmondVol -

No, I'm pretty sure it's the coaching that has made us the laughing stock of America.

Fire Fulmer.

Fire Hamilton.

twin942 writes:

Tough crowd here.

Did you all read Mike Hamilton's column? Fulmer has a great ability to pull his team together after some tough losses. I am not saying Fulmer is the best coach ever, but let's see what plays out on the field Saturday. We could be surprised.

I imagine Fulmer's staff is doing plenty of talking and shoving Florida's comments in the player's faces. They are just keeping it away from the press.

twin942 writes:

mparker, Bill Battle took a top 10 program that Doug Dickey built and turned it into a very mediocre, .500 team. That's why he was gone. It took several years for Majors to rebuild that program from a talent standpoint. Battle didn't just have "one bad year".

JWilly writes:

HCJ: I want the Vols to play well and win, and we definitely need some positive energy on this site... but get back on your meds man, you're embarassing yourself.

TommyJack writes:

knoxsingle: Our record against backup QB's has not been too stellar the past several years.

Colliervol writes:

rockytoptilidie, glad you're back and thanks for your service. (Good post too.) I agree with you. My heart wants one thing but my head tells me another. All I can base it on is what I've seen so far and, unfortunately, it doesn't give me a good feeling. But we shall see.

Grogpaw and majorvol pretty well nailed it. If the Vols want respect and everybody wants this sordid debate to end, there's only one way to do it. Hit 'em squarely in the mouth for 60 minutes and win the darn game (along with about nine more). Personally, I'm just weary of all the talk of "traitors" and "wearing the blinders" and "koolaid". You can whine about the coaches or make all the excuses you like for them but, in the end, winning (along with some consistent play for a change) is the only thing that will solve the problem.

invisiblekid writes:

"You can whine about the coaches or make all the excuses you like for them but, in the end, winning (along with some consistent play for a change) is the only thing that will solve the problem."

That concept is far too simple for some on here Collier. I can handle losses but the Jekyll and Hyde act that has been UT football for several years is what makes things so frustrating.

spvol writes:

Bust 'em in the mouth: and don't quit bustin' 'em in the mouth!

Colliervol writes:

Simple things for simple minds IVK. Jekyll and Hyde is a good way to put it. Seems like we've had to watch that movie over and over the last 10 years or so.

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