Thank You, Volunteers
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the 2007 Tennessee Volunteers team. You played what was, without a doubt, your best game of the year. Never mind that your best game all season was actually the Georgia game. Never mind that you couldn’t stop LSU on 3rd down. Never mind that you couldn’t convert on your own 3rd downs. Never mind that Erik Ainge lost the game with those two absolutely stupid interceptions.
Never mind all that. You deserve the greatest of thanks. Left for dead after horrible drubbings by Florida and Alabama, you became The Boys of November once again. You reminded us what it meant when we yell about how great it is to be a Tennessee Vol. You reminded us that the rebuilding is only beginning. You reminded us that in a couple of years, we will be back where we belong, playing for SEC and national titles. You reminded us that the future is bright and colored orange.
Yes, you did all of that. You refused to listen to the spoiled among us and stayed loyal to one of the greatest coaches ever to lead the Orange and White. You refused to lay down and die even though you were infected by the virus that afflicted nearly every college defense this season. You refused to give up even though you could not play a 60-minute game, failing to pack away games in the second half on a frightening basis. You reminded us that the way you played in the first half of games is the goal for future Volunteer teams to strive for over an entire game. You reminded us what it felt like to expect to win. You reminded us what it felt like to play for a championship.
Of course you did all of that! And now that your season is complete, there is only a bowl game left to close the chapter on the 2007 season. We will not worry ourselves with winning or losing this game. We will enjoy the game, win or lose, and appreciate a team that took us to the lowest of lows and brought us back to the heights of victory. We will send you off with cheers and tell future generations that the Big Orange Resurgence began with you.
Yes, with you. You listened when Coach Fulmer and Coach Cutcliffe made you go back to work after a disastrous 2005. You listened when Coach Chavis made you stand up like men and play hard even when you couldn’t tackle a sheet on a clothesline. You listened when those of us who have a modicum of common sense urged you to play hard and fight for the Orange and White. You listened when we expressed our hope for you and our pride in you. You refused to lose right down to the final horn.
You did every bit of that. And if the example you gave the Big Orange Nation in the 2007 season is any indication, you have forever changed the attitude and expectation on Rocky Top after nearly a decade of languishing. Tonight, after nearly defeating a great LSU team, you proved to us that Tennessee Football matters once again.
And for that, 2007 Tennessee Volunteers, I thank you. You have righted the ship; it is now up to us who follow you to sail it correctly. May God bless you for your stellar effort, example, and attitude.