- Sep 7, 2004
Tennessee vs The Maxims vs Mississippi
After four and one-half HOURS Saturday's tilt between Our Beloved Vols and Ole Miss ended. Unfortunately, the lads in Orange came up a bit short, but it was one helluva effort.
The final moments of the game, though, are now the proverbial “Elephant in the Room” for Vol fans from Memphis to Mountain City. After a highly questionable call on a critical fourth down which caused Tennessee to lose possession of the ball, bottles of water and other items rained down on the field, mostly from the student sections of Neyland Stadium.
Your Humble Scribe has learned over his many trips around our local star that it is usually best to address such issues up front and this is no different.
- Ahem -
It is NEVER, repeat NEVER, acceptable to hurl objects onto the field, no matter what the provocation. A bottle of water may seem somewhat flimsy but, when full and with the cap on is a one-pound projectile that, when thrown with enough force to reach the 10- or 20-yard line from the stands, can break bones or even cause traumatic injury should it strike someone in the head. That most of those in the line of fire were employees of the University or fellow students charged with cleaning up the mess makes such behavior even more despicable. And, no, I'm not buying Lane Kiffin's golf ball hogwash.
That being said, the hypocrisy demonstrated by ESPN and other media organs with their “holier than thou” attitudes should also come in for criticism. Considering that ESPN's parent company, the Disney/ABC Network, among others, spent most of 2020 proclaiming that violent mobs burning the hearts out of major American cities were “mostly peaceful” the disconnect is painfully obvious. They shouldn't be able to have it both ways, but, in their hubris, they get away with it because the only ones with the ability to call them out on it on a national level are fellow members of said media.
And so it goes.
Several people have noted “contributing factors” as possible explanations/excuses. Don't buy it, but there are issues that need addressing (rants follow).
Officiating: Given the billions of dollars flowing to the coffers of the NCAA and the conferences it is long past time to emulate the NFL and make the officials full-time professionals. At this time conference officials fall into the same category as high school and junior high refs – guys with day jobs who do this on the side. This needs to end. Now, anyone who has watched the NFL knows they can still blow calls but the league strives to minimize this. One other thing, booth reviews should not be allowed once the ball has been snapped for the next play and certainly not when that next play has ended. This happened Saturday.
Injury time outs: Treating injuries as just another time out is wrong. Some have noted that the officials do have the authority to limit such, but, they are not doctors and cannot determine the legitimacy or illegitimacy of a player's complaint. The two coaching staffs spent more time on the field in the second half Saturday than the players. This reduced said second half from a thrilling contest between two well-matched opponents into a glorified scrimmage. The simple solution is to ban coaches from entering the field of play during injury time outs except to check on the health of the involved player and restrict players to remaining on the field and limit contact to the team captain who must go the sidelines to confer with coaches.
Beer sales: Based on personal observation leavened with the fact that Your Truly was once an 18-22 year-old hissownself, these people were drunk when they GOT to the stadium. A couple of beers after that weren't going to make that much difference. I had the notion that instead of metal detectors looking for someone carrying a pair of nail clippers, maybe the security folks need breathalyzers. Also, we should question why there are bottles of ketchup and mustard at the concession stands when individual tear packs worked perfectly well for 30+ years.
OK, done now.
When it comes to the American Revolution we should always remember that putting noble words on paper is one thing. Making those words a reality is something else entirely. 1777 was a year of great trial and difficulty for the new republic. Not only were the thirteen former colonies divided by petty bickering and shameless maneuvering for choice appointments choking the Congress, all this was taking place against the machinations of the most powerful military force on the planet.
13 June 1777, St. John's, at the North End of Lake Champlain
Lt. Gen. John Burgoyne watched as his 9,000 men and 139 guns boarded boats and barges for the journey south. Burgoyne's haughty manner and immaculate dress had earned him the nickname “Gentleman Johnny.” His objective was to capture the numerous but small and undermanned Colonial forts along the lower lake and the Hudson River, brush aside or crush whatever forces the Americans could muster and seize Albany and meet up with Lord Howe's army coming up the river. By the Almighty, he would show the dullards and dotards in Whitehall just what a competently led force of British regulars and their German allies could do the rebels and cut the New England colonies off from the rest opening both up to being defeated in detail. His force was swelled by some 400 Loyalist militiamen and about 500 Iroquois warriors. On the negative side, he was burdened with many batsmen and other personal staff of his officers and a host of wives and children of the men and even more “camp followers to see to the urges of the unmarried ones. What should have been a light and mobile force became a ponderous and slow army moving sedately down the lakes and rivers.
Since the battles of Breed’s and Bunker Hills and the subsequent eviction of the British from Boston, there had been but one rebel victory, a minor scrap on New Year’s day at Trenton, NJ. The British has taken New York City, repeatedly driven Washington’s forces from the field, and stopped an ill-planned and less well executed American invasion of Canada. The fallout from that ill-fated adventure left the American command split by four forceful personalities, General Philip Schuyler, Gen. Benedict Arnold , General Arthur St.Clair and Gen. John Stark. Schuyler was the senior and was able to convince the others to work alongside him. Congress then muddied the water by assigning the timid and somewhat vainglorious Gen. Horatio Gates to command the “Canadian Dept.” which was technically under Schuyler but nobody from Philadelphia bothered to issue the necessary orders delineating who was actually in command. This had the effect of hamstringing Schuyler's decision-making as he than had to get Gate's approval as well.
For Burgoyne's part, the campaign started off swimmingly with the capture of a number of American forts and detachments as he made his way to the Hudson.
It was here that Burgoyne made a serious error and gave the Iroquois free reign to inflict terror and destruction on the Rebel sympathizers in the area. The Indians did this with great vigor raping, pillaging, and lifting scalps. They were also not too careful in their choice of targets and many isolated British and German detachments were waylaid with dire results. Far from terrorizing the Americans, the Indian raids served to unite the entire region and convinced Vermont and New Hampshire to mobilize militia units and send them to the Colonial Army.
He sent a detachment of his Germans to Bennington, Vermont to capture horses and supplies They were met by a superior force under John Stark and very nearly annihilated. He had also been forced to leave roughly a thousand men behind as garrisons for the various forts he had captured.
The dominant player in the whole affair turned out to be geography. At one point it took a convoy of much-needed supplies three months to travel from Britain to Quebec: much too late to help Burgoyne. Bear in mind too, that all movement in the area was dependent on either boats subject to the vagaries of wind and water, or sweating men and animals hauling themselves and their supplies over “roads” that were barely trails. Once a unit stepped off the trail, it might as well have been on Mars as far as command and control were concerned.
On 13 September, Burgoyne encamped his now 8,000 man army at Saratoga. Gates was placed in overall command on the American side with some 12,000 with more arriving every day.
On 19 September, Burgoyne ordered an assault at Freeman's Farm with an eye toward outflanking Gates' position on Bemis Heights. The Brirtish ran unto a buzz saw punctuated by Col. Daniel Morgan's sharpshooters who picked off a number of British officers. The Colonials withdrew at dusk but inflicted well over a thousand casualties on the British while suffering a bit over 300.
Burgoyne received conflicting messages from New York. Finally, Lord Howe admitted that he had no intention of moving north, leaving Burgoyne on his own. Burgoyne decided his only choice was to throw the Americans off Bemis heights, seize Albany and settle in there to wait out the winter.
On 7 October the British moved out. A fierce firefight developed and the Americans began to waver when suddenly Benedict Arnold rode up at the head of a brigade of Continental regular and put the redcoats to fly.
The Americans followed up by storming and taking a fort manned by Germans on the old Freeman's Farm position. Burgoyne pulled out to Saratoga the next day. Gate's army. Now numbering over 20,000 surrounded him there and on 17 October, Burgoyne signed the “Convention of Saratoga” a sap to his ego as he refused to surrender and Gates was too weak willed to force the issue. As part of this , the Americans were to take his 6000 survivors in hand and conduct them to Boston where they would be returned to Britain with pledges they would take no further part in the war. No matter how Gates quivered and Burgoyne posed, this was all merely perfume on a pig. The British had suffered a catastrophic defeat.
General Gates returned to a hero's welcome in Philadelphia. Once there he denigrated or flatly refused to mention the efforts of the other commanders, in particualr Benedict Arnold. Congress refused to promote him and Arnold's hurt feelings, along with his ambitious wife, led him down the dark road to treason.
Due to various twists and turns of fortune, it took five and a half YEARS for the British to be returned home. During that time Burgoyne and his army were marched from place to place. Colonial wags dubbed them “Gentleman Johnny's Wandering Army.”
It was the victory at Saratoga which convinced the French that the American Revolution was viable and to enter the war as an ally. It was also this campaign which convinced many in the British Parliament that the war in the colonies could not be won.
So, how did the Vols do against The Maxims?
1. The team that makes the fewest mistakes will win.
The Vols were on their back foot almost from the beginning. Tennessee's defense stymied the Rebels on their first possession. Then the normally reliable Velus Jones muffed the punt and Ole Miss recovered on the UT 10 from whence they subsequently scored. The Vols battled back, bless their little cotton socks. They actually went up after a safety and Hooker TD pass 9-7 but the Rebels scored on the next possession and Tennessee never got over the hump. Numerous Vol miscues and penalties snuffed otherwise promising drives.
2. Play for and make the breaks. When one comes your way … SCORE!
Tennessee scored on a Matt Corral fumble and the assembled multitude rejoiced, and then the officials huddled and decided to disallow it. (insert 4500-word rant HERE)
3. If at first the game – or the breaks – go against you, don't let up … PUT ON MORE STEAM!
The Vols never gave up and were in position with a chance to win the game at the very end. After fifteen years of lackluster performance, this was a notable improvement.
4. Protect our kickers, our quarterback, our lead and our ballgame.
The injury to Hendon Hooker was a killer. Emulating Josh Dobbs, he literally put the team on his back and was going to WILL them to victory. He went down fighting. I hereby nominate him for the Orange Heart Award and wish him a speedy recovery.
Joe Milton came in with 27 seconds left in the game but it is virtually impossible for a quarterback who has spent the previous 59:36 on the bench swapping thumbs to come in and be the hero. On his run as time ran out, Elder Son and Heir had the best explanation. His theory was that Milton's clock in his head did not match the clock on the field and he was trying to kill the clock and get off one more play. See Stabler, Ken, vs Tennessee, 1967.
5. Ball! Oskie! Cover, block, cut and slice, pursue and gang tackle … THIS IS THE WINNING EDGE.
Sometimes, a team can do most everything right and still lose. That's why you play the games.
6. Press the kicking game. Here is where the breaks are made.
Jones' flub may have truly been the decisive play of the game. As stated previously, it put Tennessee on their back foot and they never quite got back in stride. In other news, Paxton Brooks was named to the watch list for the Ray Guy award recognizing the country's top punter,
7. Carry the fight to Mississippi and keep it there for sixty minutes,
Verily, although the Vols did seem to take the most of the first quarter off. It was the closest we long suffering fans have seen to a complete game by Our Beloved Vols. May this be the harbinger of future successes.
Now HeadVol Heupel leads his tatterdemalion corps into Tuscaloosa to face the Alabama Crimson Tide. Alabama has proven to be quite beatable this season but the question is can Tennessee stitch together enough healthy starters to make it a contest?
Steven E. Clay, Staff Ride Handbook for the Saratoga Campaign, 13 June to 8 November 1777
Thomas Fleming, Gentleman Johnny's Wandering Army, American Heritage Magazine, December, 1972
Richard M. Ketchum, Saratoga: Turning Point of America's Revolutionary War
Micheal Pearson, Those Damned Rebels
Burgoyne's Surrender (National Archives)