Frustrated fans

Frustrated. That's the word that best describes many Tennessee fans in the wake of last Saturday's loss to Florida. The Gators came in as the No. 7 team in America and slight favorites, so losing by a point to them was hardly a disgrace. Still, Vol backers are frustrated.

Here's why: Phillip Fulmer won 45 of 50 games between 1995 and 1998. He won back-to-back SEC titles in '97 and '98. He went 13-0 and won the national title in '98. He had heralded recruiting classes backed up. Given all of these indicators, fans were … well, ecstatic.

Expectations soared. Perhaps they were unrealistic. Regardless, those expectations have not been met. That's why fans are frustrated.

I can relate. I never won a national title but I had a couple of dates with a gorgeous lady several years ago, which is a pretty good consolation prize. For our second date she suggested we have dinner at her place, rather than a restaurant. I said that would be fine. When she suggested we watch a video, rather than go to a movie theater, I quickly agreed – visions of us cuddling on her couch dancing in my head.

Arriving at her home, I found her dressed somewhat provocatively – tight pants and a low-cut sweater. Truthfully, I've forgotten her face but I will NEVER forget that sweater. The video she rented was "As Good As It Gets," a comedy with romantic overtones.

"I don't have a couch, so we'll have to sit on my love seat," she said. "I hope it's not too crowded." I assured her that would be fine, wiping a little drool from the corner of my mouth.

Then came the clincher.

"Is it OK if I turn down the lights while we watch the video?" she asked. I nodded so emphatically I must've resembled a bobble-head doll. Given all of the indicators, I was … well, ecstatic. I might never win a national title but, as she lowered the lights, I was pretty sure I was about to score a touchdown.

Like Vol fans following the ‘98 national title, however, my soaring expectations proved unrealistic. The young lady – I don't remember her name, just her sweater – sat on the love seat beside me but literally stayed on the edge of her seat throughout the video. I couldn't even put my arm around her shoulders.

When the video ended, she politely informed me she had to rise early the next morning and needed to be in bed early. Clearly, that was my cue to leave. She gave me a sisterly hug and told me to have a safe trip home.

I can honestly say I've never been so confused in my life. I went over my checklist of possible dating gaffs: Brushed my teeth? Check. Took a shower? Check. Wore a clean shirt? Check. Showed up on time? Check. Complimented her appearance without ogling? Check. Made eye contact during conversation? Check.

I was so confounded I called a few days later to ask for another date. Not surprisingly, I got the old "You're a nice guy, but …" speech.

I learned a valuable lesson from that perplexing experience: Letting your expectations soar is risky. Odds are, they won't be met. And, when they aren't, you're left with an unpleasant feeling:


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