The Idiot Optimist’s Guide to the 2020 Season

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I know, I’m surprised I haven’t caught the virus too!

But you know, they got me for trespassing at Bridgestone Arena back when all this went down. I drove down because I knew Big John Fulkerson and all them were winnin’ that SEC Tournament, no doubt about it. And when they told me it’d been cancelled, I figured it was some kinda conspiracy from ol’ John Calipari to keep them from losing to us again, so I refused to leave the premises. So that, combined with unpaid gambling debts from last year and being picked up naked outside Neyland Stadium the day we switched to Nike…well, that’s three strikes, boys.

But hey, turns out you don’t really go to jail for that stuff in coronavirus times, so now I got me one of these (motions to ankle monitor with Power T in pantone 151 duct tape). My wife cried when she found out I’d be on house arrest, though I’m still unclear if they were tears of joy.

We don’t leave the house, so I don’t need a mask, but I made one with Jauan Jennings catching that football in Georgia on it just because. Sometimes I just wear it around the house to make myself feel better. My therapist says it’s the last time I was truly happy.

She also says I should just be happy to have football this fall, and maybe she’s right. I mean, all my happiness last fall went away so fast, it was one of the most confusing times of my life, I won’t lie to you boys. When we started 0-2 after the end of that BYU game, I started reading the Mormon literature. I stuck with it until Guarantano fumbled at the goal line at Alabama, which is when I knew I must’ve had it wrong. But then, we started winning! So now I’m a little unsure which church I should attend when all this is over, but surely the time of God’s testing has passed! The Vols are back! Phillip said so himself!

He also sent out a letter asking us to send our ticket money to the university even if we don’t get seats this fall, because they could use our help. I tried to find a place to reply in the comments that I’d gladly send that and an advance on next year’s seats as soon as I have it, but my wife changed all my passwords. She’s a smart one. I figure if I just keep asking her to log in to Volquest every 15 minutes she’ll break eventually.

But you know, the program is hurting financially. Everywhere is. I saw Texas is going to have sponsors for each one of their games, which seems like a great idea to raise funds without having to put a Pilot Flying J on General Neyland’s face or whatever. So I’ve got it all figured out:

  • Tennessee vs Missouri, presented by the Town of Blacksburg. Blacksburg: if the alternative is Columbia, Missouri, I promise you’d rather play here every other year.
  • Tennessee vs Kentucky, presented by Back to the Future 35th Anniversary Edition. Celebrate 35 years of protecting the timeline and Kentucky losing in Knoxville!
  • Tennessee vs Alabama, presented by the SEC League Office in Birmingham. You already know how this one’s going to go down; that’s why we’ve gotta find the right church, boys, because only the power of prayer can stop those referees. Also brought to you by: Butch Jones. Butch Jones: he’s getting paid either way!
  • Tennessee vs Texas A&M, presented by The Estate of David By God Crockett. You’re welcome.
  • Tennessee vs Florida, presented by Top Gun: Maverick Iceman. The plaque for the alternates is down in the ladies room. Ain’t no way we lose to these guys in December.

(Author’s note: The Idiot Optimist tips his hat to this line from Pat Forde’s 2002 story on Casey Clausen: “Many Tennesseans still have more affection for Peyton Manning than for their own children.” Sounds about right.)

I mean look, if they want to have every game sponsored by Weigel’s, that’s okay with me too. Anything to help the program. But I figure we’re going to make all the money we need when we run the table this fall.

They said we couldn’t have played this past Saturday because we had too many kids in quarantine. But really, how many guys do we need to beat South Carolina? If that o-line is healthy, we need those five and Eric Gray. Maybe throw in Austin Pope as an extra blocker. If we have seven offense players, I say let’s kick it off and see what happens.

We get Georgia while they’re still figuring out their quarterback situation, which as long as it’s not Justin Fields should be fine. Though truly, I think Justin Fields would have a better chance at immediate eligibility at Georgia than Cade Mays does at Tennessee. They gave us Auburn and Texas A&M as a bonus, but hey, Jeremy’s got Gus’s number and, knowing Auburn, they’ll probably want to fire him by November anyway. Texas A&M is an overdue chance for revenge, the first moment that happiness was taken away four years ago. It’s all coming back around, boys. I mean, you go through a ten game schedule in this league, plus Atlanta, does it really matter who else is in the College Football Playoff? Maybe they’ll let Memphis in there this year, that’d be adorable. A national champion from the SEC would finish 13-0 this year. Feels like 98!

I will be grateful for football. I will be grateful for football. I will be grateful for football.

And I will be most grateful for that (Fulmerzied) whipping we’re ‘bout to put on everybody.

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