I’ve never seen anything quite like it in my life. Tennessee fans rose up with a united voice against a school administration that had made horrible, tone-deaf decisions for more than a decade and changed the entire history of the Big Orange football program.
Four years ago today on November 26, 2017, then UT athletics director John Currie tried to quietly hire Greg Schiano as the new coach of the Vols football program. During the week prior, Currie had publicly acted as though he would be looking far and wide for the best coach possible while he already had Schiano, an inexplicable darling of agents and media alike, ready in the wings.
I still don’t know what Currie was thinking with this plan but I can tell you what he didn’t think enough about: How the Tennessee fan base would react to the hire.
The immediate backlash was swift and strong. Hoards of livid Vol fans on social media began speaking out, an actual protest broke out on UT’s campus, phone calls were made by people who donate money to the school, even Tennessee state legislators made public comments. It was truly a sight to behold.
And perhaps the best part of the entire ordeal was that the immense outcry of UT fans was met with a shocked reaction by the wastes of space in the national media. They couldn’t believe that their beloved friend Greg Schiano wasn’t being welcomed with open arms. And while the Big Orange faithful has never felt any love towards the media, the disdain for the Blue Check Brigade grew to incredible levels that day and it hasn’t stopped since.
Some naysayers have reveled in the fact that the subsequent firing of John Currie and hiring of Jeremy Pruitt was bad but the truth is that that is completely irrelevant. What happened on what has now come to be known as “Schiano Sunday” had far less to do with what coach was hired in Schiano’s place and much more to do with Vol fans reminding UT’s administration who pays the bills.
The fans truly make Tennessee what it is. Despite the recent rough years, UT remains one of the most valuable and resource-rich programs in college football all because of its fans. They show up big during the best and worst of times, rain or shine. They will defend the Big Orange to the ends of the earth, even against UT’s own administration. Simply put, don’t mess with the Vol fan dog unless you’re ready to get bit.
So, on this anniversary of the fateful “Schiano Sunday”, let’s take a moment to remember how great this fan base is. Media and anyone else can try their best to shame us or try to bring us down but never forget the last of Neyland’s 7 maxims: Keep carrying the fight to our opponent and keep it there for 60 minutes.
Featured image via News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK via Imagn