As college football season approached this year, all we heard about was how Tennessee was going to be a definite challenger for the national title.
One of the biggest games of the season was supposed to be Nov. 9, the day Tennessee was going to battle Miami for the No. 1 spot.
Well, here we are, six weeks into the season, and Tennessee already has been beaten by Florida, pushed by Rutgers and taken to the limit against Arkansas.
All three of those games, by the way, were in the unfriendly confines of Neyland Stadium.
This Saturday's game will be played in Sanford Stadium, a place that is quickly becoming a tough location to play under second-year head coach Mark Richt.
This is Tennessee's first true road game, which will be tough for a team that took six overtimes to beat what should have been an overmatched Arkansas team.
At No. 10, Tennessee is slightly overrated. It's playing as a team of individuals and won't get better until that's corrected.
Don't get me wrong, Tennessee has a lot of talent.
Casey Clausen is a quarterback who won't make stupid decisions. He'll keep the Vols in a game with his head.
Jabari Davis proved against Arkansas that he's going to be another good running back in the long history of great backs to come out of Tennessee.
Kelley Washington, if he could come down to Earth, can be one of the best wide receivers in the country. He's got more talent in his left thumb than most of the Arkansas team that the Vols barely got past.
Preseason hype can be a bitch. Believe me, Georgia knows. Year after year we've been saying "this is the year." And then we lose to South Carolina or Tennessee.
This year, however, the Bulldogs are living up to the hype. There's an air of confidence with this team that hasn't been felt around Athens in quite some time.
This year, however, Tennessee is the one that has to live up to the hype.
This was the year that Tennessee was supposed to take the throne from Florida because the evil genius Steve Spurrier was gone. Tennessee had 14 starters returning from a squad that finished in the top five last year.
But don't worry, my East Tennessee mountain friends. There's still hope for your season and there are three words you can place your hope on.
No, not Kelley "The Future" Washington. That's four words, for those of you that can't count.
The three words come in the form of Jim Bob Cooter.
That's right. Jim B. Cooter is going to take over for Clausen and lead y'all to the promised land.
He's a diamond in the rough. A renaissance man. The Volunteer who's going to lead them back to prominence. In essence, he's the real "Future."
But beyond J.B. Cooter, how does this Tennessee squad move on from the six overtime game against the Razorbacks?
According to what UT coach Phillip Fulmer told ESPN's Dr. Jerry Punch after the game Saturday, the Volunteers were going to celebrate the win and not think about the Georgia game until later.
Excuse me? You're not going to look at Georgia until later? Is this really the guy you want coaching your team?
Despite that statement from Fulmer, I expect a good game from a tired Tennessee team.
So when y'all hop in your trucks to come down to the Classic City, leave the hunting rifles and turkey calls at home and get ready for a big SEC rivalry game.
I'm left with one question, though. Do all Tennessee graduates wear mumus and have pet pigs named "Rocky Top" like ESPN showed in its College Gameday commercial?
- Bradley Handwerger is the sports editor of The Red & Black. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Georgia proves worthy of hype, Tennessee attempts to do same
Published: Wed Oct 09, 2002 | Modified: Sat Aug 06, 2005 04:33 p.m.