Sometime during the summer of 2019, Landon Raby and Caleb Mitchell welcomed me into their company and allowed me to be a staff writer at what had been, since its inception, one of my favorite sources for Tennessee Volunteers news; MoreImportantIssues. Covering the Vols had been a life-long dream of mine, and while I was wrapping up schooling for my calling in life (more on that at the end), I was able to take a break from the stresses of that avenue and put some effort into writing about the Big Orange.
In this little bit of time, I have already seen some of U.T.’s all time nadirs when it comes to sports, some big wins and moments, and to top it all off, 3/4 of a season of baseball, a basketball post-season, and football training camp all canceled due to a virus. To say it has been interesting is an understatement.
For many of you that have read my work, you know I love lists. So for my Swan Song at MII, I would like to stay true to who I am. I am going to list for you MY favorite Big Orange moments since I started covering the Vols.
5. Vol Baseball Sweeps the RoundRock Classic
While I didn’t necessarily cover baseball at MII, I have always followed U.T. baseball very closely, and when I saw the field in this classic during the pre-season, I thought “well we are going to see how this team is real quick”. And we did. The Vols beat 3 teams in 3 games that all have very good baseball programs, including the number 1 team in the nation at the time, Texas Tech.
While the season was cancelled earlier in the month as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, that was the first barometer of a season that had a huge chance at being one of the best in school history. The Vols were LOADED with talent in the 2020 abbreviated season, and who knows, maybe some of the really good players will be back for 2021, but while it lasted, this season sure was a joy to follow.
4. Vol Basketball gets two 1,000 point scorers on the same night
In what was an abbreviated season for Vol Seniors Jordan Bowden and Lamonte Turner, the latter’s in two ways, they both achieved a very significant milestone on the same night. In the fourth game of the season against Alabama State, Bowden and Turner became the 51st and 52nd Big Orange players to ever reach 1,000 points.
Now I don’t know about the relationship between these two, but I do know that three years of being significant players on championship-level teams likely forged quite the bond between the backcourt duo. The season wasn’t a pretty one, and didn’t even really end, but for two guys to have such an achievement on the same night sure was cool.
3. In Back-to-Back Games, A Sub-Par Vols Basketball Team Takes Down Conference Front-Runners and Biggest Rivals
This one may be my favorite. In basketball, I hate Florida and Kentucky about as much as a fan can, and, to be honest, both of the teams are usually at or near the top of the SEC standings, as they were this year. Tennessee, while in the past couple of decades has made major strides in their basketball program, still isn’t quite used to being in the top echelon of the conference, and wasn’t there at all this year. With a team that had no identity, a struggling leader in Jordan Bowden, and many fans ready to jump ship for the year, The Vols took down both of those teams in back-to-back games!
In the only meeting with the Gators this season, on Leap Day, The Vols boat raced Florida in the first half and then held on during the second half for a 63-58 win. In round two of the Wildcats vs. Vols matchup just three days later, IN LEXINGTON, the Vols pulled off an 83-71 upset of UK. Even better, during those two games, John Fulkerson cemented himself as a member of Vols Basketball legend, and Yves Pons solidified his spot as SEC Defensive Player of the Year.
2. U.T. Football Wins 6 Out of Last 7 to Become Bowl Eligible for First Time since 2016
After such a miserable start to the season, no one knowing who the quarterback would be until one was trotted out before the games, to say Tennessee Football was a roller-coaster this season would be an understatement. However, the Vols strung together 5 straight wins and 6 out of their last seven to close out the 2019 season and get back to a bowl game, which was ultimately the goal for this team starting out.
It wasn’t pretty, and it likely took up to 5 years off of each Vol fan’s life-expectancy, but the 2019 season, so far, sure does seem like it was a turning point for the program and its quest to return to glory. The way the Big Orange closed the regular season out gave us all hope for a brighter tomorrow where the gridiron is concerned.
1. Vols take Down Indiana in the Gator Bowl in a Game that was a Microcosm of the Entire Season, kick off “Decade of the Vols”
I won’t lie- I turned this game off for about 3 minutes because I was so upset at losing to a team that was obviously inferior. Our seniors had helped to re-establish the foundation on Rocky Top, and before the game it was sounding like we were going to trounce a mediocre opponent out of the Soft-Ten. But a big nasty Tight End and a Quarterback who was named after Tennessee’s most beloved player of all time about spoiled all Vol Fans’ New Year (if only we knew then what we know now).
Though the game was an up and down affair much like the entire season as a whole, for me the best part was Jeremy Pruitt seeming to finally buy into our University 100% and declare that the victory was the onset for what he called “the decade of the Vols”. Let me tell ya, I will be along for that ride and will enjoy every minute of it.
This is Where the Cowboy (or… Doctor…) Rides Away
This is my last post as a contributing writer for MoreImportantIssues. In May, I will graduate as a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (yes, a real doctor) and recently found out that I have matched into a residency program (pretty big deal for us medical students). With the time that will be spent moving from my hometown, where I was blessed to study medicine, raising a family, and fulfilling all of my duties as a resident physician I figured it best to step-away from the Vols coverage.
Thank you to every individual that ever took the time to read one of my articles, and I hope you enjoyed reading them as much as I enjoyed writing and sharing them with you. I would also like to thank Landon and Caleb for allowing me to live out one of my dreams. I will forever be a supporter of MoreImportantIssues, a friend of the Pod, and see great things for the guys coming up. Who knows, I may even make some guest appearances here and there.
So again, Thank you Landon and Caleb, and thank you to all the readers. It has been fun! Until next time, this is (Dr.) Dakota Robertson signing out. God bless you, God bless our country, and God Bless Rocky Top. GO VOLS!
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