By Alex Norman
Hello there! Hope that you had a good new year’s. I wish you all a happy and healthy 2018. I understand how busy everyone is these days. Work, school, family… it can get really easy to miss out on some of the good stuff with regards to the Tennessee sports scene.
So I’ve taken my crystal ball out of storage to find out what’s going to go on in the great state of Tennessee this year.
Let’s light this candle.
(Editor’s note: Alex is not being serious for all of these. Please don’t send us hate mail. It hurts our feelings.)
January is halfway done so we move on to…
Jeremy Pruitt closes the deal on a Top 15 recruiting class. Considering that running back John Kelly, defensive back Rashaan Gaulden and defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie are all going pro early, Pruitt is going to need players to contribute right away. This class will help fill some holes.
Tennessee’s men’s basketball team makes the NCAA tournament after a four year absence. The Vols win their first game but lose to Creighton at the buzzer, costing them a spot in the Sweet 16.
Head coach Rick Barnes holds a press conference at Pete’s Restaurant to announce that he will retire at the end of the 2018-2019 season.
The Lady Vols finally advance to the Final Four for the first time since 2008. This sets up a matchup with UConn. ESPN devotes 45 consecutive hours of coverage to the game. The Huskies win by 40.
The Vols complete spring practice with 100,000 fans packing Neyland Stadium. After the game quarterback Jarrett Guarantano announces that he is switching positions and will now play offensive line. News leaks that defensive tackle Shy Tuttle would prefer to be called “Introverted Tuttle” during media interviews but won’t say anything about it because… you know… he’s shy.
Tennessee’s baseball team completes an unheard of winless season. First year head coach Tony Vitello is given a ten year contract extension. The Lady Vols softball team completes an undefeated regular season. Former Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart is escorted out of Lee Softball Stadium after trying to climb a pole to remove a flag with the Lady Vols logo.
The Lady Vols softball team advances to the College World Series, where they end up finishing in third place. Co-head coaches Ralph and Karen Weekly are given 20 year contract extensions.
Tennessee brings quarterback Quinten Dormady to SEC Media Days, at which time he announces that he has switched positions to wide receiver. In an ugly incident, new Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt dodges a punch by Alabama fan and tree poisoner Harvey Updyke because, “He wasn’t Bama enough.” Updyke is given probation and a new show on the SEC Network.
The Vols open Fall camp. There is no tackling, or hitting of any kind. Apparently Pruitt got very “Zen” after the Updyke attack, and now believes that physical football is bad for the soul. This should normally cause fans to flip out, but after the past decade, Tennessee fans just take it in stride. That’s not even in the top ten of terrible things to happen to the athletics department in recent years.
Pruitt snaps out of his mind freeze in time for game week preparations for West Virginia. This game is played in Charlotte, and Michael Jordan is on hand for the ceremonial coin toss. Unfortunately, West Virginia quarterback Will Grier plays Jordan to the Vols Patrick Ewing in a 35-21 Mountaineers victory. The Vols exit September with a 2-3 record.
The schedule makers really hated Tennessee. They ended September with Florida and Georgia, and now play Auburn, Alabama and South Carolina. The Vols get out of the month with a 2-6 record. Jeremy Pruitt wonders aloud where all the 5-star talent he had in Tuscaloosa went.
Tennessee quarterback Will McBride leads the Vols to a 4-0 finish, including a victory over Missouri, and their offensive coordinator Derek Dooley. The Vols win that game after Tigers quarterback Drew Lock thought the clock struck zero and threw the ball out of the back of the end zone in celebration, giving the Vols a safety and a one point win.
The Vols finish the season 6-6, earning a Music City Bowl berth.
The Vols lose the Music City Bowl to Purdue 11-10. Tennessee has big things to dream about, after Pruitt secures four 5-star players during the early signing period for the Class of 2019.
As always, hope springs eternal on Rocky Top.