If you happened to have missed last week’s Tennessee-North Carolina Music City Bowl, you missed what might have gone down as the most celebrations by a losing team in football history.
We wrote as much the following morning, pointing out the numerous Tennessee “loco” finger rolls, salutes and even a double-throat slash by the Vol quarterback toward UNC’s bench. (It least it wasn’t the dreaded triple-dog throat slash.)
Naturally, we were lit up by Vol fans who claimed that we must “hate” Tennessee. (For the record, we are also apparently “haters” of Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, South Carolina, and Vanderbilt, to hear their fans tell it. But we’ve been accused of “loving” all of those teams, too, so maybe the bias is in a few readers’ eyes and not in our writing.)
The most common emails we received from Big Orange Nation last week said either:
“You’re just looking for another reason to hate on Tennessee…”
“Tennessee didn’t celebrate anymore than any other team.”
All evidence to the contrary. The Vols’ antics in their 30-27 double-overtime loss drew the attention of two of the nation’s most-popular NFL writers.
Peter King of SI.com compared one of UT’s most over-the-top celebrations to the salute that drew a game-changing flag in the Pinstripe Bowl in his Monday Morning Quarterback column:
“Then, in the other bowl game that day, the Tennessee quarterback, Tyler Bray, threw a touchdown pass and gave the crowd a double throat slash… and got nothing. Nice rules you’ve got, NCAA.”
ESPN.com’s Gregg Easterbrook walked the same path in his Tuesday Morning Quarterback column:
“Along comes the next bowl, North Carolina at Tennessee. On one Volunteers touchdown, the receiver did a choreographed dance as a teammate leapfrogged him; on another, the receiver danced elaborately, then a teammate lifted him into the air. No flag in either case. Rules are supposed to be consistent.”
I don’t remember seeing a leapfrog during that game, but the point’s the same — everyone noticed UT’s celebrations.
Now, we could say, “We told you so.” We could say, “We told you that Derek Dooley’s team embarrassed itself by offering up more celebrations than any other team in the nearly 40 bowls played so far.”
But we won’t say that.
Instead we’ll tell you what many of you most want to hear: Peter King and Gregg Easterbrook just hate the Vols, too.