By Alex Norman
2019 is here… or, almost here depending on when you are reading this article.
I’m going give you guys a sneak peek at the 12 months ahead in the world of sports… in Knoxville and beyond.
(Editor’s note: You shouldn’t take all of these predictions seriously… nor should you wager on any of these prognostications. The writer obviously ate too much over the Christmas holiday and it has gone to his head. Some of these are meant to be tongue in cheek so please don’t send us angry telegrams.)
Tennessee’s men’s basketball team jumps to the number one overall ranking for only the second time in program history. National player of the year candidate Admiral Schofield celebrates by reading to kindergartners.
Tennessee’s football program continues to search for an offensive coordinator.
The New Orleans Saints beat the Kansas City Chiefs 70-68 in the Super Bowl. Former Vol Alvin Kamara scores four touchdowns. Former Tennessee head coach (and current Maryland tight ends coach) Butch Jones tweets that he knew Kamara would be a star in the NFL, which causes thousands of Vols fans to respond with angry messages for weeks.
National signing day comes and goes as the Vols put the finishing touches on a top 15 class. Head coach Jeremy Pruitt announces the offensive coordinator search will continue into the spring.
Tennessee’s men’s basketball team loses a close game at Kentucky. National player of the year candidate Grant Williams is so saddened he refuses to play a board game on the trip back to Knoxville.
Tennessee’s men’s basketball team beats Kentucky to clinch its first outright conference championship since 2008. They then lose to LSU in the SEC tournament title game because it is the SEC tournament and that’s just what happens to Tennessee in the SEC tournament. The Vols do receive a number one seed in the NCAA tournament. Head coach Rick Barnes celebrates by eating an entire candy bar.
Tennessee’s women’s basketball team advances to the Sweet 16 before losing to Notre Dame. Head coach Holly Warlick gets a 17 year contract extension from athletics director Phillip Fulmer.
Tennessee’s men’s basketball team advances to the Final Four for the first time in program history. The Vols are eliminated in that round by Duke 67-65. Tennessee is called by 44 more fouls than Duke, which leads to an invasion of Durham by angry UT students. Durham is returned to North Carolina after the National Guard enters the city limits.
Jarrett Guarantano throws three touchdown passes in the Orange & White Game in front of 95,000 fans. Pruitt tells reporters that he’s disappointed that more fans didn’t attend. When asked for an update on the search for an offensive coordinator, Pruitt says that he expects a hire to be made by SEC Media Days in July.
Tennessee’s baseball team makes it to the SEC tournament. Students celebrate by tearing down the left field foul pole at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
The Toronto Raptors win the NBA title and the Toronto Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup. Unfortunately Toronto’s celebrations are held in check after two feet of snow fall in 36 hours.
Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt is asked at SEC Media Days about his offensive coordinator opening. He pivots to a discussion about the Vols moving to a 0-7-4 defensive alignment, to better utilize their linebackers and lack of defensive linemen.
Tennessee announces the promotion of Joe Osovet to the position of offensive coordinator. The former head coach at Nassau Community College on Long Island is immediately dubbed “Babylon Joe” by #VolTwitter. Osovet is interviewed once in the preseason and then never heard from again in 2018. Tennessee gets through Fall camp without a single injury.
The Vols open the season with a 51-3 win over Georgia State. A statue of Babylon Joe is planned for the North entrance at Neyland Stadium.
Wins over BYU and Chattanooga are followed by a loss at Florida. The Vols enter the bye week with a 3-1 record.
Jon Gruden is winless with the Boise Raiders, as the team was forced to play their 2019 schedule in Idaho when Oakland set all their gear on fire before they make the move to Las Vegas in 2020. Gruden tells reporters that Boise reminds him of Knoxville. Gruden then winks to the camera and begins to sing “Rocky Top.”
Somehow, the Vols go 2-2 in October. They lose to Georgia, beat Mississippi State, lose to Alabama and then finally knock off Will Muschamp and South Carolina. They Vols are now 1-6 all-time against Muschamp.
Tennessee sweeps their November games to finish 9-3. The Vols offense is ranked 5th in the nation and Babylon Joe is given a key to the city.
Tennessee doesn’t make it to the SEC title game in Atlanta, but accepts a bid to the Outback Bowl. Jeremy Pruitt leaves unexpectedly when the NFL’s Detroit Lions head coach job opens up. Joe Osovet is immediately named the new Tennessee head coach. Fulton High School wins a state championship in football.