Mike Strange: Vols have to make room for a new SEC rivalry with Missouri

Mike Strange
Missouri running back Marcus Murphy celebrates after scoring on a nine-yard touchdown run during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Kentucky Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012, in Columbia, Mo. Missouri won 33-10. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

Photo by L.G. Patterson, AP2012

Missouri running back Marcus Murphy celebrates after scoring on a nine-yard touchdown run during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Kentucky Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012, in Columbia, Mo. Missouri won 33-10. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

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A little SEC football word-association game seemed right for a November Tuesday morning.

Tyler Bray, what comes to mind when you think of Alabama?

"Championships.''

OK, South Carolina?

"SEC championships.''

Missouri?

"Hasn't been here yet.'' Laughs. "I guess nothing yet, in the SEC.''

There you have it. An SEC rivalry will start from scratch Saturday at Neyland Stadium.

Bray was right. So far there is nothing.

The Vols and Tigers have never met in football, either in Neyland Stadium or Faurot Field or anywhere else.

Since the days of leather helmets, UT and Missouri have managed to avoid each other. Now, they are thrown together as instant rivals.

Depending on how the SEC schedule rotation works out, the Vols might play Texas A&M, the SEC's other new member, once a generation. They'll play Mizzou as an SEC East rival every year.

Move over Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Alabama and Kentucky. Make room for the new guy.

Can the Vols work up a healthy dislike, a traditional respect or some kind of feelings toward the transfer from the Big 12?

"I don't know,'' said offensive tackle Tiny Richardson. "We'll see what it is.

"Tennessee is pretty much already established as far as rivalries go.''

The SEC's previous expansion was 20 years ago. It took a while, but UT worked up a worthy rivalry with South Carolina, especially once Steve Spurrier started stirring the pot in 2005. Tennessee and Arkansas already had some history when the Razorbacks came on board.

Both beat UT in 1992, their introductory season. And Missouri, frankly, could open the new era with a win Saturday at Neyland if Tennessee doesn't bring its 'A' game.

The Tigers have struggled in their maiden voyage. They share in common with the Vols losses to Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina and Florida.

They beat Kentucky two weeks ago. Which means ...

"They have more SEC wins than us right now,'' Richardson said.

Correct. Missouri finds its first-time host fallen on hard times. The Vols need to beat the new guys to, among other things, keep

their coach employed.

Here's an update on Mizzou's recent history.

The Tigers have been to seven straight bowl games and are one of six BCS-league schools with six consecutive eight-win seasons.

Their coach, Gary Pinkel, ranks ninth among active coaches with 162 wins.

That goofy character you see on the sideline is Truman the Tiger.

That guy you see lined up to return kicks, there's nothing goofy about him. He's Marcus Murphy and he leads the nation with four return touchdowns this year.

There's plenty more to learn, but don't sweat it. There are presumably decades to get it all down to the point of being able to effectively trash-talk.

For now, though, it's an odd week. The Vols are practicing for an opponent with whom they have no past, yet they must treat it with the same urgency of all their other SEC games.

"Yeah,'' said linebacker Curt Maggitt. "It's a little bit (weird), not really having any history behind it.

"But if they're in the SEC, they're in the SEC and we've got to try to get this win.''

Some Saturday in the future, the stakes will surely be higher. The Vols and Tigers might even decide a title.

Every rivalry starts somewhere. This one will start Saturday when the captains shake hands before kickoff.

Mike Strange may be reached at strangem@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/strangemike44 and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/strange.

© 2012 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 52

rockytopwestone writes:

Well Mizzou, welcome to the SEC.

BigOrangeRock writes:

This would had been an exciting season.

If Fulmer was the coach.

Volunatic writes:

GO VOLS!!! Beat Missouri!

10SE writes:

in response to BigOrangeRock:

This would had been an exciting season.

If Fulmer was the coach.

Fulmer was ok in his day, but I really wish that you people would get over it!

CrankE writes:

"It took a while, but UT worked up a worthy rivalry with South Carolina, especially once Steve Spurrier started stirring the pot in 2005."

Seriously, Mike?

Carolina immediately earned UT's ire with an upset win in Columbia in 1992. Some punk freshman QB named Tanneyhill who had a mullet down to here and a mouth that never closed was the focal point.

In 1993, when Carolina came to Neyland Stadium for the first time, one of their players in the Friday walk through giggled to a local TV reporter that Neyland stadium wasn't impressive. (Uh...it's empty, wait until tomorrow.)

Tennessee unloaded a 55-3 rout on Tanneyhill and Carolina that at the time was the most lopsided conference rout ever. Impressed now?

In terms of Spurrier and Carolina-he's been able to beat some of the worst UT teams in a generation. Big deal.

Volunteer-Varmint writes:

in response to BigOrangeRock:

This would had been an exciting season.

If Fulmer was the coach.

Did you crawl out from under your rock to vote? Go home you moron.

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to 10SE:

Fulmer was ok in his day, but I really wish that you people would get over it!

Kind of like Vietnam....Not until desert storm in 1991 did folks forget nam. Got to get a team that's got a coach that's wining then Coach Fulmer will be over.

crimsonviper writes:

in response to BigOrangeRock:

This would had been an exciting season.

If Fulmer was the coach.

Walt ?

ashvol7 writes:

in response to BigOrangeRock:

This would had been an exciting season.

If Fulmer was the coach.

When are you going to realize that Fulmer is responsible for us being in this mess. Why in heavens name would anyone want him back. Hamilton didn't help matters either, his choice of coaches was terrible to say the least. I am also afraid UT has made another mistake with Hart. Sal is the worst hire that UT has ever made,Dooley?

6972 writes:

A new rivalry..... Troy

Orangeblood13 writes:

in response to crimsonviper:

Walt ?

lol nice one

snafu14u#241639 writes:

in response to ashvol7:

When are you going to realize that Fulmer is responsible for us being in this mess. Why in heavens name would anyone want him back. Hamilton didn't help matters either, his choice of coaches was terrible to say the least. I am also afraid UT has made another mistake with Hart. Sal is the worst hire that UT has ever made,Dooley?

Here's a new poll for the KNS.....Worst Assistant Coach in UT history....Clawson or Sunseri? Gentlemen start your engines.....BonzaiVol

BigOrangeRock writes:

Bring Fulmer back.

123forVOLS writes:

The article is about Missouri. They can be a very good team and will bring it to this first game in Knoxville. I suggest the men in Orange and White bring their best too. As for the constant battering on what the Vols use to be, blah blah blah...it's meaningless. Bring on the game.

Sir_Spanky writes:

in response to CrankE:

"It took a while, but UT worked up a worthy rivalry with South Carolina, especially once Steve Spurrier started stirring the pot in 2005."

Seriously, Mike?

Carolina immediately earned UT's ire with an upset win in Columbia in 1992. Some punk freshman QB named Tanneyhill who had a mullet down to here and a mouth that never closed was the focal point.

In 1993, when Carolina came to Neyland Stadium for the first time, one of their players in the Friday walk through giggled to a local TV reporter that Neyland stadium wasn't impressive. (Uh...it's empty, wait until tomorrow.)

Tennessee unloaded a 55-3 rout on Tanneyhill and Carolina that at the time was the most lopsided conference rout ever. Impressed now?

In terms of Spurrier and Carolina-he's been able to beat some of the worst UT teams in a generation. Big deal.

I think you're on to something, sort of. These "worst UT teams in a generation", the number of which increases with each passing season, is a big deal. Steve Spurrier involvement, if any, in the aforementioned is of secondary importance.

gc_scvol writes:

in response to jobrando#216494:

Kind of like Vietnam....Not until desert storm in 1991 did folks forget nam. Got to get a team that's got a coach that's wining then Coach Fulmer will be over.

Glad to hear you can forget Nam.

hueypilot writes:

in response to jobrando#216494:

Kind of like Vietnam....Not until desert storm in 1991 did folks forget nam. Got to get a team that's got a coach that's wining then Coach Fulmer will be over.

Some of us haven't forgotten either one just yet.

tovolny writes:

Mike, GREAT ARTICLE...I am glad you were the one that wrote this about Missouri. I just copied what you wrote and filed it away to look at in 5 years from now. Arkansas, North Carolina State, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Georgia, Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi State...these are the schools representing the BORDER STATES that we recently played. Tennessee almost borders South Carolina, Illinois, West Virginia, and Indiana. Remember, from top of a mountain near Chattanooga, one can see seven states. You know, it would be nice if we could get a least two top athletes from these states each year. We used to get a lot of good guys from Ohio, Texas, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey...what happened?
California has provided some good Vols recently. I cannot remember a Vol football player from Missouri. But, didn't think about too long.

Welcome to Rocky Top Missiouri.

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to gc_scvol:

Glad to hear you can forget Nam.

I could have much quicker but every time you turned on the news there it was. With 1991 war they had a new bench mark war for tv. Well, I still have flashbacks after 40 years.

crappieking writes:

Mizzou will be welcomed by beating us. Pathetic. FIRE DOOLEY!

VolFanInTheBoro (Inactive) writes:

in response to crimsonviper:

Walt ?

did Walt get booted?

brod writes:

it won't be much of a rivalry. maybe in basketball.

tnsportsman writes:

Our VOLS will have to score 72 points Sat to beat MO! Dooley, Sunseri and this Defense will not fix itself in 7 days!

GO VOLS BEAT MO! Score many points often each time you touch the ball!

kwcoach writes:

in response to rockytopwestone:

Well Mizzou, welcome to the SEC.

In the words of Mr. T..."gonna bust you up."

JDX47 writes:

I am pumped about this week. Dooley is focusing on the defense this week so I bet he and Sal have gameplanned something great getting rid of those "explosives" (as Sal calls them). Missouri is in big trouble with this combo now focusing on the defense. Gonna be great!!

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

This has become a rivalry of who can stay out of the East cellar..Truth be known Troy ranked 15th in FBS offense..Mizzo is a dismal 112th..We did play bad against Troy but they did have lot's of offensive talent; better than Mizzo for sure!!This game boils down to our very good offense against a good defense,,What worries me is Mizzo has a good, very fast pass rush very similar to So Carolina. I think turnovers will be a deciding factor and also field position..If our secondary can somehow pull it together that would help..Hopefully homefield advantage will help..There weren't tons of fans at the TRoy game but the ones that went were pretty vocal..This game is a toss up and will take another 400 yard game by Bray to get the win

volsgirl writes:

in response to crappieking:

Mizzou will be welcomed by beating us. Pathetic. FIRE DOOLEY!

will see!!!!!!!!Go Vols beat Mizzoooooooou!

CrankE writes:

in response to kwcoach:

In the words of Mr. T..."gonna bust you up."

Reporter: "Clubber, what's your prediction for the fight?"
Clubber Lang: "My prediction? (long pause followed by glare into the camera) Paiiiiiiiiin."

In a battle between Clubber (Paiiiiiiin) Lang and Dalton (from Roadhouse: "Pain don't hurt"), I wonder who wins?

CrankE writes:

in response to Sir_Spanky:

I think you're on to something, sort of. These "worst UT teams in a generation", the number of which increases with each passing season, is a big deal. Steve Spurrier involvement, if any, in the aforementioned is of secondary importance.

Yup. It's easy to beat UT with this "1st and Sunseri" defense.

Spurrier is simply profiting from our misfortune. Many said the same thing about Fulmer (ignoring the misfortune that he created for so many.) Looking at it from that angle, Spurrier is the new Fulmer. (Yeah, I know-last year it was Richt.) It's only a matter of time.

punkin writes:

in response to BigOrangeRock:

Bring Fulmer back.

Why? He's part of the reason we are in this mess.

tnbigg writes:

I remain relatively silent as the play continues to unfold. I love REAL Tennessee football, but I have never pretended to love ugly fakery. Bloviate all you wish. Coach Dooley is way out his real pay grade in the SEC. We will continue to offer futility and grasp for "moral victory" satisfaction until the landscape is changed and somebody who really, really knows how to win joins us. I hope that it will be a real, bona-fide orange blood and not some rent a coach who knows little to nothing about the REAL Tennessee traditions. This ain't fantasy football...

volboy81 writes:

South Carolina...SEC Championships????
just exactly how many SEC Championships does Bray think SC has??? heres a hint.....ZERO.

bkgunter writes:

in response to ashvol7:

When are you going to realize that Fulmer is responsible for us being in this mess. Why in heavens name would anyone want him back. Hamilton didn't help matters either, his choice of coaches was terrible to say the least. I am also afraid UT has made another mistake with Hart. Sal is the worst hire that UT has ever made,Dooley?

Coach Fulmer had the team playing for the conference championship less than 5 years ago, you half-wit. It is now crystal clear that the TN fans most obsessed with Fulmer are the ones who cling to this ridiculous narrative that he was the problem. You cannot tolerate any mention of him. If the current jag-off took the team to the conference championship game, we would likely be stuck with him for the rest of the decade. Fulmer is gone. You can stop poking his corpse every time someone remembers what it was like to DOMINATE Georgia, Alabama, S. Carolina, Arkansas, etc. Those are facts. And they are nice memories considering where the program finds itself now. That decade of dominance under Fulmer was a high point. But the program was pushed off a cliff. And it is still falling.

volboy81 writes:

in response to tovolny:

Mike, GREAT ARTICLE...I am glad you were the one that wrote this about Missouri. I just copied what you wrote and filed it away to look at in 5 years from now. Arkansas, North Carolina State, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Georgia, Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi State...these are the schools representing the BORDER STATES that we recently played. Tennessee almost borders South Carolina, Illinois, West Virginia, and Indiana. Remember, from top of a mountain near Chattanooga, one can see seven states. You know, it would be nice if we could get a least two top athletes from these states each year. We used to get a lot of good guys from Ohio, Texas, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey...what happened?
California has provided some good Vols recently. I cannot remember a Vol football player from Missouri. But, didn't think about too long.

Welcome to Rocky Top Missiouri.

Alan Cockrell was from Joplin.

bkgunter writes:

in response to punkin:

Why? He's part of the reason we are in this mess.

Wrong--but that logic is the PRIMARY reason that we are in this mess. And soon to be looking for his third replacement.

govolsn3 writes:

UT hangs another 50 this weekend and I sure hope that it will be enough...I will be there in ORANGE and I wont be alone....GO VOLS>>>VFL

murrayvol writes:

in response to 10SE:

Fulmer was ok in his day, but I really wish that you people would get over it!

fuhgettaboutit 10SE! Not going to happen.

murrayvol writes:

in response to VolFanInTheBoro:

did Walt get booted?

He did. Then resurfaced. Got into a few political give-and-takes before Tuesday. May have gotten tossed again.

murrayvol writes:

in response to hueypilot:

Some of us haven't forgotten either one just yet.

Some never will.

Millisa writes:

Welcome Missouri and We will LOOSE this game I know it.

illinoisvolfan writes:

I don't have any problems trying to work up a healthy dislike for Mizzou. They'll be walking into Neyland Stadium on Saturday trying to beat the Vols. That's enough of a reason for me.

GBO, Tame the Tigers!

OrangePsyched writes:

in response to Millisa:

Welcome Missouri and We will LOOSE this game I know it.

Didn't know this game was bound..somebody please untie this game and turn it loose.

ashvol7 writes:

in response to bkgunter:

Coach Fulmer had the team playing for the conference championship less than 5 years ago, you half-wit. It is now crystal clear that the TN fans most obsessed with Fulmer are the ones who cling to this ridiculous narrative that he was the problem. You cannot tolerate any mention of him. If the current jag-off took the team to the conference championship game, we would likely be stuck with him for the rest of the decade. Fulmer is gone. You can stop poking his corpse every time someone remembers what it was like to DOMINATE Georgia, Alabama, S. Carolina, Arkansas, etc. Those are facts. And they are nice memories considering where the program finds itself now. That decade of dominance under Fulmer was a high point. But the program was pushed off a cliff. And it is still falling.

And your buddy Fulmer is the one doing the pushing, and with both feet I might add.

OrangeMike writes:

in response to bkgunter:

Coach Fulmer had the team playing for the conference championship less than 5 years ago, you half-wit. It is now crystal clear that the TN fans most obsessed with Fulmer are the ones who cling to this ridiculous narrative that he was the problem. You cannot tolerate any mention of him. If the current jag-off took the team to the conference championship game, we would likely be stuck with him for the rest of the decade. Fulmer is gone. You can stop poking his corpse every time someone remembers what it was like to DOMINATE Georgia, Alabama, S. Carolina, Arkansas, etc. Those are facts. And they are nice memories considering where the program finds itself now. That decade of dominance under Fulmer was a high point. But the program was pushed off a cliff. And it is still falling.

Hear hear!!

OrangeMike writes:

in response to ashvol7:

And your buddy Fulmer is the one doing the pushing, and with both feet I might add.

Fulmer was sabotaged by Hammy after Dr. Johnson and Coach Dickey retired because Fulmer's recruiting started feeling the effects of the change in policies after their departure that Hammy didn't have the nads to fight, and Hammy was still ridding the crest of Pearl's resurection of the basket ball program (we now know how that turned out) and thought he could hire a rock star to replace Fulmer too (we still are living how that turned out). Thank you to the board of trustees, the faculty senate and most of all, Hammy the weseal, who with their help destroyed the football program for the foreseeable future. Fulmer was the first victim of a new system that is destined for continued failure.

OrangeMike writes:

in response to andforhisnexttune:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

And the idiot prize goes to ....

underthehill writes:

in response to Icthus:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

UT fans do not want to acknowledge it but the Vandy game is shaping up as the rivalry game of the year for both schools..ESPN is playing it up..if Vandy beats Ole Miss and UT beats Mizzu (I think they will if Bray plays the whole game and don't quit or panic when pressured) then ESPN will hype it even more..UT needs to win out mostly for recruiting ..which is struggling right now..and let the coaching decisions play out after the season ends...

dragon18 writes:

in response to bkgunter:

Coach Fulmer had the team playing for the conference championship less than 5 years ago, you half-wit. It is now crystal clear that the TN fans most obsessed with Fulmer are the ones who cling to this ridiculous narrative that he was the problem. You cannot tolerate any mention of him. If the current jag-off took the team to the conference championship game, we would likely be stuck with him for the rest of the decade. Fulmer is gone. You can stop poking his corpse every time someone remembers what it was like to DOMINATE Georgia, Alabama, S. Carolina, Arkansas, etc. Those are facts. And they are nice memories considering where the program finds itself now. That decade of dominance under Fulmer was a high point. But the program was pushed off a cliff. And it is still falling.

Preface to my comment: I am a great admirer of what Coach Fulmer accomplished at UT!
Actual Comment: It has been documented and the facts are simply indisputable that Fulmer's final recruiting classes left the program witha HUGE talent void. It was exacerbated by the sudden departure of Lane Kiffen. UT was in decline even before they played in that Championship game. I don't blame Fulmer, the rigors of coaching and winning year in and year out in this league have to be more than we as fans can ever imagine. These coaches work 70+ hours per week during the season and then spend months away from home and family while recruiting. I know that I would have difficulty keeping the fire burning for a third as long as Fulmer did. My point is that it took a few years for us to recognize that the program was losing it's "edge" and even longer for the school to make a difficult decision on a legend like Fulmer. In the same vein it takes a few years to recover from where we were when Dooley took over. That is not an endorsement for Dooley either. I was a supporter until the defense suddenly fell off the cliff this year. I think he needs to win out to be able to keep his job. Anyway, that's my 2 cents worth.

hueypilot writes:

in response to volboy81:

Alan Cockrell was from Joplin.

Tony Robinson was from East St. Louis. I know, I know, it's in Illinoise (Ron Zook reference) but you can see Missouri from there.

hueypilot writes:

in response to murrayvol:

He did. Then resurfaced. Got into a few political give-and-takes before Tuesday. May have gotten tossed again.

I hate to hear that. I could see that stupid

Walt

Class of '69

and I could quickly identify it, ignore it, and move on to the next post.

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