Dear Mark May,
What the hell? And to think I was beginning to respect you again. Then you just had to do it, didn't you, Mark May?
You just HAD to do it.
"Tennessee is my dark horse team to win the BCS National Championship in 2008 because of their offensive line." Thanks a whole effing lot for the pseudo-praise, Mark May, but you totally effed-up our effing plan.
Did you not see what happened last year when someone with a microphone and the slightest bit of credibility gave our team a compliment?
That's right, Mark May: We got our ass kicked.
We just can't deal with that kind of praise, Mark May. Not yet, anyway.
I'm not really that mad at you, Mark May. I just feel a little like the Army brigade Geraldo Rivera was embedded with felt when he drew their entire battle plan and troop movements in the sand on international TV.
Let me explain this to you.
We've got some weird, convoluted logic going on here in Knoxville. You may think your prediction helped bolster our team's psyche. Well, you're wrong.
Basically, what we Tennessee fans have learned to do to best help our team is as follows.
We spend the entire week before Saturday paying an obscene amount of verbal respect toward whoever the opponent is for the upcoming week while simultaneously unleashing the swarm of Fulmer haters and "Negative Nancies" that infest our Big Orange ranks.
These folks diss our team and flood sports talk shows with overwhelming negativity about how impending our doom is on Saturday and how Fulmer needs to go.
In short, Mark May, we have the illogical, irrational side of our fanbase treat our coaches and team like crap for six days, and then we all get together and cheer like hell for them on Saturday to remind them that we still love them and we're behind them.
I know what you're thinking, Mark May: "stupid firebrand hillbillies and their reverse psychology mind games." I couldn't agree more...but it has worked.
We were a breath away from disaster after Florida. Nobody thought the Vols would beat Georgia. They slaughtered Georgia.
"South Carolina was number six a week ago!" Daniel Lincoln nailed the game winner.
Nobody thought the Vols could get to the SEC Championship. They won when it mattered most and got to Atlanta.
If it weren't for Erik Ainge's woeful collapse in the fourth quarter against LSU, our excessive dissing would have yielded an SEC Championship and a Sugar Bowl berth.
I just wish we were all more negative to them early on, or at least not as optimistic. The day I heard Jimmy Hyams say he thought Tennessee could go 10-3 or even 11-2, I should have found a way to force him to retract his prediction and supplant it with an ominous forecast of complete failure.
The day before Mike Strange predicted Tennessee would be tougher than Cal because of their intense practices in one of the hottest summers in recent memory, John Adams should have insisted that he ramble on about how it wasn't really that hot here and/or publicly question the entire team's masculinity.
Had our sports commentators done that beforehand, our group of Tennessee overachievers could likely have won the National Championship and solved the Israeli-Palestinian crisis at the same time.
So you see Mark May, when you butter them up and throw around words like "contender," "underrated," and especially "dark horse," you actually hurt our plan.
Tennessee has to stay under the radar. They need to be perpetually disrespected. They always need to feel like their backs are against the wall, that every time is "do or die time."
Only then can they unleash a deluge of pent-up frustration and shock the hell out of the critics and Sunday morning quarterbacks.
In closing, Mark May, don't respect Tennessee publicly (and tell all your ESPN buddies the same, and I'll forward this to Verne Lundquist), and the chances of your dark horse prediction coming to fruition increase exponentially.
One thing is for sure though, Mark May...I really hope you're right about this one.