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23 extraordinarily weird things about Tennessee’s Week 12, topped by a ribs restaurant excitedly confirming Jon Gruden ate there without being sure, then backtracking via public statement

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This was a masterpiece.

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee’s Brady Hoke era began with a 30-10 home loss to LSU, ensuring the Vols of a losing season.

A 4-7 team losing a boring game at the end of the season is not usually a memorable thing. But in this case, it’s worth commemorating just what went down in and around Neyland Stadium this week, and also what didn’t go down, despite lots of wondering.

A list of dumb Tennessee things from Week 12 follows.

1. Sleuths spot Jon Gruden at a Knoxville restaurant, proving the coach Vols fans have always wanted is in town and maybe wants the job.

With Peyton Manning, no less.

2. The restaurant appears to confirm Gruden’s presence.

3. A photo surfaces of a guy who has a haircut similar to Gruden’s, sitting with Manning at the restaurant. Is this, in fact, Gruden?

(That was Manning in the orange sweater on the left, at least.)

4. The restaurant walked back its confirmation of Gruden’s appearance there, but didn’t really deny anything in a lengthy statement.

5. Gruden turned out to be multiple time zones away.

This is Seattle, where Gruden was visiting for Monday Night Football.

And he wasn’t making an evening trip to Knoxville:

6. Tennessee’s NHL team started saying just anyone in its Nashville crowd was Gruden.

7. This whole Gruden business was not the first really silly Gruden-Tennessee thing of the week, though it did take first place.

More than 4,500 people at a time were watching a live stream of a parking lot at a Tennessee airport a few days earlier, in the hopes that it would reveal proof that Gruden was in Tennessee and coming to take the job. Look at this investigatory work:

Gruden was not there either.

8. Tennessee fans claimed they’d do these various things if Gruden took the job. I’m only putting a sample of them here.

Nods to Gruden’s endorsement deals:

Promises to name children after Gruden:

Promises to get specific tattoos:

And miscellaneous:

My belief is that Tennessee fans are a national treasure, to be protected at all costs.

9. The actual game was shambolic. Let’s start with the point that Jones, who was fired a week earlier, still had his huge picture on the stadium.

10. Wind bent a goalpost, which had to be fixed.

11. A piece of scoreboard flew off and hit an old man, who had to be escorted to receive medical care.

12. I mean, the wind was a total monstrosity.

13. The refs sounded like Charlie Brown’s teachers.

14. Little scraps of Tennessee-colored pompoms littered the field like the vestiges of a lost season and a metaphor for UT’s disappointment.

15. Trash levitated above Tennessee.

16. The second-half opening kickoff happened in the Upside Down from Stranger Things, as it was being hit by a monsoon.

17. In what was absolutely not a metaphor for the recent trajectory of the Volunteers’ program, the lights went out in Tennessee’s stadium.

18. ESPN had to broadcast from different angles around this time, because you couldn’t possibly see the ball from the usual angle.

19. The football tried to run away, because it didn’t want to be handled by Tennessee and LSU players in this kind of weather.

20. And then the weather became delightful, like right away.

21. Oh, right. Former Michigan head coach Brady Hoke was in charge for Tennessee.

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

22. Brady Hoke wore a headset.

A reversal from his past coaching life.

23. Tennessee played badly and lost.

Acually, that was the only non-weird thing about this game. Sorry for misleading you by putting it on a list of weird things.