If Governor Bill Lee made an annual State of the State address for Tennessee sports, in all likelihood it would come around this point on the calendar. Football is in full swing, the NBA and NHL are underway, and the MLS postseason is heating up. “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” is actually about sports, believe it or not. This is supposed to be a most joyous time for us diehards. However, I am here to announce that the state of the State of Tennessee sports is in deep, deep trouble.
Yesterday, the Titans fell victim on the road again. Will Levis finally looked like a rookie with a subpar outing and an inability to deliver in clutch moments down the stretch. Now sitting at 3-6, the Titans are facing a total rebuild behind Levis. The Mayo Man has given fans hope for the future, but it’s a dagger in the side to see ‘The Passtronaut’ and former Titan, Josh Dobbs, lead the Vikings to a magical turnaround. Halfway through the season, Titans’ fans are already looking towards the April NFL Draft to get young Billy Jeans some much needed help.
Over in Memphis, the Griz are posting the worst record in the Western Conference, 2-8, with Ja Morant still serving his suspension. Some had argued this team was better without Morant. Uhh yeah, they were wrong. After being a contender for the last two seasons, the Grizzlies have quickly become a poverty franchise that is not showing any signs of a turnaround this season. Head Coach Taylor Jenkins hasn’t been able to get this team to mesh and they have joined the growing list of failing Tennessee sports teams. Welcome to the club.
As I indicated a couple weeks ago, Nashville SC’s season was falling apart. Well, now it is completely gone after a disappointing playoff series against Orlando City SC. The boys in gold were swept and now left to dwell upon a season filled by the holy trinity of regret—coulda, shoulda, woulda.
Over on the rink, I probably should be held accountable for jinxing a team that was looking to turn it around. The Preds surrendered seven goals to open their home stand against Arizona Saturday night and have lost five of six (0-3 since last week’s article was released). Smashville appears headed for another postseason ‘swing-and-miss’ and much like the Titans, a rebuild could be their next shot on net.
Over on the college gridiron, the Dores somehow suffered the biggest embarrassment of the season—which is saying something—in a 47-6 loss to South Carolina. Clark Lea was brought in to be the savior of Vandy football and bring them to heights recently achieved at Duke and Northwestern (scandal aside) over the past decade. However, his days might be numbered as the Commodores fell to 2-9 and have a big goose egg in the win column in conference play. Baseball season can’t come soon enough for the school on West End Ave.
Lastly, we have the Vols … So much was riding on Saturday’s game. If they could muster a road win and get a little help from Ole Miss later in the evening, it all would have come down to the game next week versus Georgia to decide the division. Oh boy, did those hopes and dreams come crashing down quickly. Missouri piled it on early and often. The worst part though was the response by Tennessee. The orange showed little effort or interest in the 36-7 blowout loss at Mizzou. Their SEC Championship hopes? Gone. New Year’s Six Bowl chances? Erased. Sure, they will have the opportunity to go bowling, but at a lower level and many wonder if Coach Heupel has what it takes to get his team up for a rivalry game against UGA.
The road back for Tennessee sports is treacherous. We hope Harvey Dent was right when he said, “The night is darkest just before the dawn. And I promise you, the dawn is coming.” It’s pitch black out there right now and much heavy lifting must be done to return our state to glory in the Arena Athletica.