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.
My college roommate is a manager at Calhoun's on the river. He confirms Gruden and Manning were there tonight.— Patrick Murray (@PatMurrayWBIR) November 18, 2017
Calhoun’s management confirms with me that Jon Gruden was at their Calhoun’s on the river location earlier and that he requested privacy.— Dan Harralson (@danharralson) November 18, 2017
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.
We’d like to take a moment to clear things up as well as apologize. We got excited- like everyone. Please read: pic.twitter.com/AIyVvmppKC— Calhoun's (@calhouns) November 19, 2017
5. Gruden turned out to be multiple time zones away.
This is Seattle, where Gruden was visiting for Monday Night Football.
Here's a photo if you want it. pic.twitter.com/pZbiSJ3cA6— Bob Condotta (@bcondotta) November 19, 2017
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.
Lmao the Preds are just showing randoms on the screen and saying it’s Jon Gruden— J.R. Lind (@jrlind) November 19, 2017
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:
I would drink nothing but Coronas and eat nothing but Hooters for the rest of my life if it means Jon Gruden is Tennessee’s next head coach— jk (@jknight11) November 15, 2017
Promises to name children after Gruden:
If Gruden will come to UT, I will name my firstborn Gruden. She may not like it since she’s 16 already and likes her name but dang it I’m willing to make that sacrifice! #Grumors #Gruden #VFL #GBO #JustJoking #OrAmI— Nicole Morrell (@NicInTheER) November 15, 2017
Promises to get specific tattoos:
If Tennessee lands Gruden I will get “Spider 2 Y Banana” tattooed on my ass.— Kyle Tasman (@Tasman247) November 15, 2017
I’ll do a 100 yard sprint in a pair of orange checkerboard briefs at Neyland in January if Gruden is the guy. Make it happen.— Swoop Loper (@joshloper) November 16, 2017
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.
It’s windy at Neyland Stadium. The goal post is bent pic.twitter.com/UMN2fOQeWl— Mike Wilson (@ByMikeWilson) November 18, 2017
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.
Football fans vs Wind in Neyland pic.twitter.com/XhiD3RXDXJ— CFB Gif'er (@CFBgifer) November 19, 2017
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.
A trash bag caught in a whirlwind Above the Tennessee sideline is a little too on the nose— Adam Henderson (@AdamATVS) November 18, 2017
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.
It’s a monsoon in Knoxville. Metal has fallen off a stadium scoreboard and half the lights are out at Neyland Stadium. pic.twitter.com/XOqT01oU7D— Jesse Simonton (@JesseReSimonton) November 19, 2017
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.
The football is attempting to escape this game pic.twitter.com/cof5UfNG6p— Deadspin (@Deadspin) November 19, 2017
20. And then the weather became delightful, like right away.
21. Oh, right. Former Michigan head coach Brady Hoke was in charge for Tennessee.
22. Brady Hoke wore a headset.
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.