Warm fuzzies don't last

Tennessee fans were thrilled beyond words when an outmanned but fiercely determined Vol football team hammered heavily favored Miami 35-7 in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, 1986.

A few days later, however, star quarterback Tony Robinson and reserve fullback B.B. Cooper gave the program a black eye when they were arrested on drug charges. The Big Orange Nation went from the peak to the valley in no time flat.

Now flash forward 11 years ...

Tennessee fans were thrilled beyond words when superstar quarterback Peyton Manning announced in the spring of 1997 that he would be returning for his senior year of eligibility, rather than opting for the NFL Draft.

A few days later, however, after laying the foundation for an apparent basketball rebirth at UT, head coach Kevin O'Neill bolted for Northwestern. Again, the Big Orange Nation went from the peak to the valley in no time flat.

Now flash forward 11 years ...

Tennessee fans were thrilled beyond words when bright and charismatic Dave Clawson came across as a rising star in the coaching profession during his introduction as the Vols' new offensive coordinator last Saturday morning.

A few days later, however, the story broke that promising wide receiver Gerald Jones and another freshman had been cited for possession of marijuana, with a third player and a visiting prospect sitting in the back seat of the same car. Again, the Big Orange Nation went from the peak to the valley in no time flat.

Moral of story: Enjoy your "warm fuzzy moments" while they last because they generally don't last long in The Valley of the Vols. It seems that just about every time Tennessee fans get the opportunity to savor a mountain-top experience, a kick in the teeth follows closely behind.

The problem, of course, is human nature. In each one of the cases above the mood-spoiling kick in the teeth could be traced to a serious lapse in judgment.

Robinson was looking at a lucrative professional career only to let the allure of drugs take precedence over the allure of the NFL.

O'Neill was looking at Final Four-caliber talent but he walked away from it by letting friction with athletics director Doug Dickey cloud his thought process.

Gerald Jones was looking at becoming a fan favorite after showing flashes of brilliance as a freshman. Now he's looking at a marijuana charge and a bunch of community service.

Another lapse in judgment. Another kick in the teeth. Another warm fuzzy passes all too quickly.


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