The University of Tennessee is never short of honorees. It honors former players, current donors, and almost anyone else who is in the vicinity of Neyland Stadium on game day.
So I assume it already has scheduled its honorees for the Oct. 29 game against South Carolina.
My advice: Either change the list or add to it.
UT needs to honor its 1981 football team that day. Why? Because it can best relate to what the current Vols are going through.
Coach Johnny Majors' 1981 team opened its season by losing to No. 5 Georgia 44-0 and to No. 10 Southern California 43-7.
This team has it even worse.
The Vols lost to No. 1 LSU 38-7 on Saturday. And no one should expect them to do anything more against No. 2 Alabama in Tuscaloosa this Saturday.
But UT can do something about what comes next.
That's right. I'm looking past the storied UT-Alabama rivalry to what lies ahead.
If you want to play fantasy football and invest emotion in what was once the biggest game of the year, feel free. But the big picture is more pertinent than what used to be the big game.
This isn't the kind of game UT fans should anticipate. Instead, they should look forward to getting past it.
In a best-case UT scenario, it plays as hard as it can, improves on its weaknesses as it did against LSU, avoids injuries and moves on with heightened confidence and without an Alabama hangover.
The 1981 team can speak to that. After being outscored 87-7 in its first two games, it won seven of its last nine regular-season games and then beat Wisconsin in the Garden State Bowl.
Longtime UT publicist Bud Ford gives Majors much of the credit for that team's resurgence.
"When we were at our very worst, he was at his best," Ford said.
Based on last season, you could say the same for second-year UT coach Derek Dooley. The Vols started out 2-6 in 2010 before winning their last four regular-season games.
The turnaround could be attributed mainly to a schedule that softened considerably over the last month. Yet some teams might have been so traumatized by the beginning, they couldn't have handled the lesser opponents to come.
If the Vols survive Alabama with their psyche intact, that doesn't mean they can beat South Carolina the following week or Arkansas two weeks later in Fayetteville. But they could be more competitive than they were Saturday and are expected to be against Alabama.
UT fans don't want to think about the alternative.
Vanderbilt looked competitive enough in a 33-28 loss to Georgia on Saturday that it could threaten the Vols next month. In fact, if the Commodores beat Army on Saturday and defeat downtrodden Kentucky in November, they could be a victory away from bowl eligibility when they take on UT in Neyland Stadium on Nov. 19.
At least, the Vanderbilt game now looks more difficult than it appeared in preseason. Conversely, the South Carolina game should be less difficult, especially since star running back Marcus Lattimore just suffered a season-ending knee injury. The Gamecocks already had made a quarterback change, going from fifth-year senior Stephen Garcia to Connor Shaw, and their offensive line is struggling.
The first-half play of the offensive and defensive lines against LSU was cause for UT optimism. Both faltered in the second half against the nation's No. 1 team, but — once past Alabama — they won't face a comparable challenge to what they experienced Saturday.
As distasteful as Tennessee fans find losing to Alabama, such a loss isn't the worst thing that could happen to the Vols. Being adversely affected by the loss would be worse.
John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or firstname.lastname@example.org.