By Alex Norman
As is tradition in this column, for my last effort of the year I called my psychic for some help in terms of looking to the future. Just what will happen on the local and national sports scene in 2016?
Save this column for posterity and make sure to get rich by wagering on the predictions. (Editor’s note: Do not wager on these predictions. Alex is obviously insane.)
Immediately following the Outback Bowl, Vols head coach Butch Jones receives a 4 year contract extension and $4 million per year raise, bringing his salary up to $8 million per year. Tennessee’s athletic department holds bake sale outside Neyland Stadium and announces ticket hike to $450 per game to address funding issue.
On February 2nd the Vols men’s basketball team upsets Kentucky 70-68 at Thompson-Boling Arena. Head coach Rick Barnes unexpectedly resigns, saying that “nothing else I could do here is better than this, so there’s no need to keep going.” Tennessee re-hires Jerry Green as his replacement.
On February 3rd, Tennessee’s football team somehow welcomes 44 new players on National Signing Day. Head Coach Butch Jones explains how “turquoise-shirting” will allow them to bring in that many players in one class.
On February 7th, the Carolina Panthers edge the New England Patriots 24-23 to win the Super Bowl and complete a 19-0 season. America rejoices. The following day it is revealed that Tom Brady used a nerf football during the game.
The Lady Vols basketball team is eliminated in the NCAA Tournament in the Elite 8, once again falling short of the Final Four. Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart announces that for this point forward all women’s sports at UT will go by the nickname “Nike.”
Tennessee athletic department announces that rumors of a baseball team playing games on campus are false, and stresses that the Vols have not fielded a baseball program since 2005.
The Tennessee “Nike” softball team wins its Super Regional to once again advance to the Women’s College World Series. An estimated 500,000 fans march on the UT campus in anger that their team is no longer called the Lady Vols. Dave Hart throws water balloons on protestors from roof of UT football complex.
Cleveland Cavaliers finally bring the city a major sports championship in a thrilling 7 game series win over the Golden State Warriors, ending a 50+ year drought. In true Cleveland fashion, the NBA championship is forfeited when it is learned that LeBron James used a deflated basketball.
Tennessee arrives at SEC Media Days with much controversy as Butch Jones throws a toaster oven through the front glass of the pro-Alabama “Collegiate Warehouse” store at the Riverchase Galleria store, just past the lobby in the Wynfrey Hotel. Jones states “This is what we will do to the Crimson Tide in October 15th.” Riots ensue.
The Vols are a preseason top 10 pick in many polls. Quarterback Joshua Dobbs tells local media that he plans to dedicate himself even more to his heavy academic workload this year. Tennessee fans flood the athletic department with angry emails, phone calls, letters and telegrams.
Following a 3-0 start, which includes a 3-2 win at the Battle of Bristol against Virginia Tech, the Vols lose a heartbreaker to Florida 35-33, as the Gators win on the last play of the game when referees miss Florida having 45 players on the field on Will Grier’s winning touchdown pass. When asked why Will Grier was even on the field considering he was serving an NCAA suspension for performance enhancing drugs, and the fact that he had transferred, Jones said, “It’s the Tennessee/Florida game. This is why we have lost 12 in a row. We are cursed.” A live chicken is sacrificed at midfield in an effort to appease the gods.
The Vols escape what could have been a rough month with a 3-1 record, with wins over Georgia and Texas A&M, a loss to Alabama (of course) and a win over South Carolina. Tennessee has a 6-2 record and is still in position to win the SEC East. Tennessee fans start a “Fire Butch” petition and gather more than a million signatures.
Tennessee wins its final 4 games, finishes the regular season at 10-2, but loses a tiebreaker for the SEC East title to Florida. Both the SEC and the NCAA refuse to penalize the Gators even after learning New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. played for the Gators in the Tennessee game.
The Vols learn that they have received a bid to the Sugar Bowl for the first time since New Year’s Day 1991. Tennessee sells out ticket allotment in 4 minutes. Butch Jones receives $4 million bonus.