all VOL, y'all.

The truth about Dooley, the Vols their season and the entire program


We let a Gurley run all over us.

Prior to this year, I’d only participated in one fantasy football league. It was in 1994, and I gotta say, it was so simple back then. None of this PPR bullshit. Just straight scoring with three-point bonuses awarded for runners / receivers who gained over 100 yards or QBs who threw for over 300. Given that I’m a huge NFL fan and a tremendous stats geek to boot, this state of fantasy football-less-ness in which I’ve lived for the past 18 years would seem to be, on its surface, at least, patently absurd.

Until you consider this: I bring a brand of neuroses to the table that would frustrate even Woody Allen. And it’s this affliction, I’m afraid, that decimated my fantasy football career during a random-ass Kansas City game back when flannel shirts were all the rage.

The Chiefs had the ball first and goal inside the one and everyone in the stadium knew what would happen next. Marcus Allen would get the ball and he’d score. He got all the glory carries during his stint in KC despite the fact he was but a shell of his former self and only averaged something like 50 yards a game.

Still, he scored a shit-ton of touchdowns, as any player would, mind you, were he given the ball every single time his team had a goal-to-go situation. And I always thought that whole deal was such a load of shit.

Even worse than the touchdown whisperer, himself, were the asshole announcers who’d shower him with one sappy platitude after another. Smitten, these clowns were, with the man who had “the nose for the end zone.” (Ew.) The one you could count on for “the tough yards.”

Gimme a break. Everyone knew the real man back then was Emmit – not some Orenthal jock-sniffer four years past his prime.

As you can probably tell, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Marcus 2.0 (though I did like the Raider version), but you know what I was a big fan of?

Covering the number. And in that game, I had the over. And it was deep into the fourth and a field goal wasn’t gonna get it done.

But a touchdown was. So I had to cheer for Marcus, right?

Wrong. Because I was playing a fantasy team that featured Allen as their running back. The network went to commercial for the two minute warning and during the break, I pondered the options before me.

Was it better to root for a player I didn’t like so I could win a measly 50 bucks, yet lose my fantasy match up and witness Dan Dierdorf giving number 32 a platitude hummer in public?

Or was it better to simply fork over 55 bucks and win my fantasy match up with the added bonus of avoiding the public make-out session Dierdorf would have narrowly missed out upon?

I couldn’t decide and the state of indecision was horrible. But not as horrible as this: it soon dawned on me that a Marcus Allen touchdown followed by a botched PAT would put me a half point shy of the over, thus rendering me a loser in every single possible scenario. So there I sat on this really gross couch which kinda smelled like patchouli oil that I’d picked up from Goodwill the week before, engaged in a meltdown of such catastrophic proportions that I was literally forced to turn off the TV and go for a run, because I’m kinda weird like that.

It wasn’t till later that night when I learned of the outcome via ESPN. I’d won the over, but lost the fantasy game which woulda been fine had I not been subjected to the hacks on Sports Center who jerked Allen off time and time again as they showed his touchdown “run” from every conceivable angle.

It’s a one-yard run, you assholes. Not the Immaculate Reception. Move on, please.

Anyway, that was straw that broke this (neurotic) camel’s back. I decided then and there that I’d never play fantasy again. It was kinda dorky anyway. I always felt like I was a mere 10-sided die away from some bad Dungeons and Dragons game breaking out in my den.

Fast forward 18 years and BOOM, outta nowhere, I’m getting recruited to play in a league run by a close friend. I cited the whole gaming conflict that nearly reduced me to a vegetable back in the Clinton administration, but he was all like “Compartmentalize, man.”

Holy shit – compartmentalize! Why didn’t I think of that?

It made so much sense that I joined not one, but TWO leagues, because I’m sometimes prone to extremes. (Oh, stop — like you’re not all fucked up, too.) And while I’m shitting the bed in one of them, I’m actually winning the other.

But this past weekend wasn’t so great. For the first time this season, it looked like I might lose both my fantasy match ups, but at least I had a few players left in the Sunday night Giants-Eagles game.

To win one of my fantasy games, I needed the Giants D to suck it as that’s who my opponent had. Only problem was that I actually had the Giants D starting for me in the other fantasy game and if they could somehow come up big, I’d probably get the W in that one. But, I also had Victor Cruz on that team, so even if the Giants D sucked it, I could probably still get the win if Victor went off. Only my other fantasy opponent had Victor Cruz, too, so I wasn’t sure whom I needed to root for.

On top of the fantasy dilemma was the gaming one. Because, you know, I’d finally been turned on to this compartmentalization phenomenon which had somehow evaded me for the past two decades, and that meant my fantasy and gaming would no longer conflict with one another. Though, real quick, I gotta admit that I’m a shitty compartmentalist. I mean, I’ve got the whole “mental” part down, but I just can’t separate as well as I’d like to, which is exactly why I usually end up betting on whatever team / total would most benefit my fantasy endeavors.

But to figure out what would most benefit my fantasy endeavors in this particular case, I’d pretty much have to lock a group of MIT professors in a room with a grease board and a pot of coffee for a coupla hours, but there was only like 15 minutes till kickoff — 20 tops — so I was all like Fuck it, I’m on the over, and I felt as good as I possibly could have about it.

Until Philly took the field which is exactly when I realized that one of my fantasy teams pitted my starting QB (Vick) against my starting defense (Giants). I made it a whopping two series before the internal tug of war threatened to disembowel me, so I went upstairs, climbed in bed and watched some bad CSI rerun with my wife. I woke up the next morning to learn I’d lost the over. And both my fantasy games.

Compartmentalize. What kind of dick advice is that, anyway?

So, what in the WORLD does any of this have to do with the VOLS you ask? No idea. But look at it this way — you just read over 1,100 words and everyone knows that reading is a wonderful way to spend time. See what I just did for you?

You’re welcome.

Besides, I actually do have a point. Just like my fantasy football exploits, the Georgia game has this VOL all kinds of confused. In short, I have NO idea what to make of this team.

On the one hand we got punched in the mouth and came back and played 60 minutes of football. Yet on the other, each time we gained momentum, we gave it right back, proving we still don’t have anything close to a killer instinct.

On the one hand, we not only kept our commitment to the run – we also ran it right down their throats. Yet on the other, Pop is holding on line two. Last name Warner. He wants his fucking defense back.

On the one hand, we had a pick six. Yet on the other, we gave up touchdown runs of 75, 51 and 72 yards.

On the one hand, we’ve proven not once, but twice, that we can compete with the cream of the crop in the SEC East. Yet on the other, we’re over 40% through with the season and we have the same number of SEC victories as we do reliable kickers. (Hint: ZERO)

On the one hand, we had a Beast score a touchdown. Yet on the other, we got run over by a Gurley.

On the one hand, it was a close loss to a top five team on the road. Yet on the other, Dooley is now 0-12 against ranked teams and only 4-14 against SEC competition, those four SEC wins coming against Vanderbilt (in OT), Ole Miss  (please) and Kentucky, which, it should be pointed out, got their revenge the following season by snapping the VOLS’ 26-year winning streak.

So, seriously, where does that put this team? This season? This coach? This program? I’ll focus on the coach, because, the state of the team, the season and the program will all go as he goes.

A sizable chunk of the fan base finds Dooley to be an incompetent fool (albeit one with totally kickass hair) who’s in way over his head while the rest feels he does things the “right” way and, if given another year or two, will have us right where we wanna be.

But I’m sorta stuck in the middle, here, y’all. And the middle is a very lonely and shitty place to be. Trust me. I know. I LIVE in the middle. And as a result, all my artsy friends think I’m just to the right of Hitler while the country clubbers remain convinced I grow my own weed.

Still, here’s the deal: I wanna believe Dooley’s got this team on the right track, if for no other reason than canning him, then hiring a new coach would mean an even longer wait before the VOLS get back to where we all want them to be. But it’s hard to ignore these negative statistics that keep adding up, as well as the Ws that don’t.

Which is ultimately why I do NOT think he deserves another year or two “no matter what.” But I’m also not convinced he’ll fail, either. Though it’s not the sexy answer, I guess I just wanna see how the rest of the season plays out before I take an official stance on Dooley.

I know, I sound just like Jimmy Hyams. Well, without the annoying John Wilkerson courtesy laugh, I suppose.

Speaking of, it was those clowns — John and Jimmy — I listened to on the way home yesterday, and it was one of the finer points Roger had just made that I contemplated, um, repeatedly as I broke the threshold and joined my family for the evening. Moments later, I was sitting on the couch beside my lovely wife when my five-year old son comes up and starts breaking down his day.

Son: Did Mom tell you know what happened at school today?

Wife: [Flashes me her wait-till-you-get-a-load-of-this-shit grin]

Me: No, she didn’t. What happened at school today, buddy?

Son: Me and Suzy were playing a game at lunch and I was pretending to eat her eyeball.

Me: Ah. Channeling your inner cannibal. How Hannibal Lecter of you.

Son: Yeah. Then I pretended to eat her hands.

Me: Oooh. Good choice. Hope they were washed.

Son: I know. Then I pretended to eat her elbow.

Me: How’d that go?

Son: Fine.

[a beat]

Son: Then Suzy pulled down her pants and asked me if I wanted to eat her tootie.

Me: [to my wife] So, who’s this girl’s mom, again?


Actually, there really wasn’t a point to that one. I just thought I’d share it because I found it kinda funny.

But you know what’s not funny?

How bad we need to win in Starkville Saturday after next.

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facebook comments:

  • Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah

    I cannot imagine why I don’t just talk to you on the phone all day every day,

  • admin

    here’s my number. so call me, maybe.

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  • Shane

    the “dick” advice was solicited, I was just minding my own business, like I always do, when I got your text about how to handle fantasy football and picks against the spread that you do for fun. I thought it would be rude to not answer (or invite you to the league), so I came up with the one word I felt appropriate. Good advice from a friend, aka “dick” advice, should be the least of your worries, you’re still hung up on a play from 1994 – that meant nothing and remembered by 4 sports fans worldwide. That’s 18 years ago, just saying.
    If you asked me how to handle your hangup on the insignificant 1 yard Marcus Allen run in ’94, I’d give you the same advice – Compartmentalize.
    Good read, I can’t wait to hear who the mommy is.

    • admin

      okay, so that comment was funny as shit. and now that you’ve outted yourself — i’ve got three words for you:

      nice advice. dick.

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