With the completion of signing day and spring practice, I have had ample time to reflect on Tennessee football.
The last 10 years of Tennessee football has been like the movie, "Groundhog Day." I find myself reliving the same season and off-season over and over and over. Take away the coaching changes. Pretty much every year goes like this:
January: I convince myself that A. The bowls do not matter; they are just exhibitions. B. The bowls are very important and can jumpstart the following season. Which one I choose obviously depends on the outcome.
February: I am overall pleased with signing day. I am thrilled at the surprise skill player we always land and completely ignore the defensive tackle or two who have de-committed from us. They were overrated anyway.
March: I start breaking down (picks to click) and sleepers. Almost everyone on the roster will fall into one of these two categories at some point in time. That way, I can say "I called it" come November.
April: I buy into all the sunshine-pumping that comes from spring practice and leave spring in a good mood.
May: May is a crappy month. I carry on casual and realistic conversations with friends about the upcoming year. The phrase, "I expect 8-4 but 9-3 is doable," is uttered a lot during this time period.
June: The preseason magazines come out. I disagree with all of them. My friends and I laugh out loud at how "out of touch" they are with Tennessee and how they will look stupid come December. At this point eight wins is the worst-case scenario, nine wins is expected and 10 wins is doable.
July: I buy NCAA Football for Playstation. I immediately condemn all the player rankings and adjust them to my liking. I play the game relentlessly and I get a false sense of hope because players on the game are much better than the ones in real life. My expectations shift again. We won't lose at home and we will split the four road games. Ten wins is going to happen. Who knows, if we catch a few breaks, maybe even 11.
August: Fall practice. I have entered full-on sheep mode. Sunshine-pumping is everywhere and I have bought in fully. If this were a cult, I would have on a new pair of Nikes and would have offered to stir the Kool-aid. We will have eight to 10 impact freshmen. Every player has improved significantly. The entire country, says Tennessee, is vastly overrated. The SEC championship is just a formality now. Who would I like to see us play for the national championship is the real question.
September: We have accrued one loss, probably two. I break down every game Florida has left to see where they pick up their losses. This thing is not over. We will win the East.
October: No chance to win the East. If we can win out we might back into a BCS game. New Year's Day bowl is the worst-case scenario.
November: A few more L's under our belt, my mindset has almost completely shifted to recruiting, because we will be playing in a dotcom bowl against some boring team.
December: Bowl matchup is set. We were screwed. Oh well, at least we will dominate Team X from the inferior conference. That will show them.
Hopefully, Coach Dooley will be our Andie MacDowell and finally surrender to our advances and allow us to awaken from the nightmare of redundant mediocrity and get us back on track.
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Editor's Note:Welcome to the first edition of Bench Press. Some of you might be asking "Why is this idiot calling his column Bench Press?"
Well, quite simply it is because I ride the pine on team media. I am an unapologetic homer, I am not objective, and I am really good looking - three traits which esteemed members of the press do not possess. I'll give you a quick background on what I am doing here.