If you have ever seen the ESPN movie The Junction Boys, or read the history of the event, or even the book, then you probably already have an idea of where I am heading with this.
If not, then let me try to lay it out, fellow fans, because this has been on my mind all morning.
Bear Bryant held a 10 day football camp in what could only be lovingly referred to as hell.
The part that I want to focus on is the struggles the team went through. Not quite 100 people went to the camp. By the time it was over between 27 and 35 remained, the rest all quit.
The team still lost that year. The team went 1-9.
The next year, with the survivors still playing, the team went 7-2. The next year 9-0-1.
This isn’t 1954. You can’t physically demolish players like Bryant did that 1954 year. But Tennessee has had more than its share of nasty practices this year, and recruiting losses.
Tennessee has “> lost players.
Members have left due to the coaching change.
They have left due to the practice schedule.
They left because of the program.
Dooley has stuck out his neck, taking risks in practice, that same may argue are pushing the envelope.
“It was hot today,” Dooley said. “We had a lot of new faces out there who got more reps than they’re used to so they had to push through it and learn to push through it.
The team has struggled mightily in games, and has come up short repeatedly.
The key is to look past this season.
Yes it is painful to watch. Yes it hurts to watch our team, who once was one of the mightest in the SEC, now struggles against non conference teams like UAB.
22 Freshmen is how many Tennessee is playing. On both sides of the ball we have no depth to speak of what so ever.
These men have no SEC experience. Little to no previous college football experience. Yet we have thrust them, trial by fire, in to what is arguably the toughest NCAA College Football conference and experience that there is.
The only easy day for our Vols, was yesterday.
It is not now that matters. Its tomorrow.
The next three to four years are going to benefit from this struggle, this proverbial beating that we are taking. No other team will field the depth, the experience, or the hard knocks education these men are receiving.
No other program will be able to field a team that will have the playing time, or a team that has played a stronger list of opponents, than we can.
These are our Junction Boys.
We must stand behind them, through the losses. We must stand behind them through the struggles. They are doing the very best they can until that time, and such is the tipping point between a fair weather fan, and a real fan in my eyes. Watching every last gut wrenching minute.
I’m not being sacked 18 times by defensive line men. I’m sitting on my sofa in my living room safe. I have no excuse to change the channel. No excuse to not watch, and no excuse to not suffer the agony with them.
This is my team.
And I know that brighter days are coming, because that’s how it works in great struggles against adversity.
Great success’s come to those who strive.