In what was by far the least shocking surprise of the last few months, Tennessee decided to fire head football coach Derek Dooley on Sunday, hours after a dismal loss at Vanderbilt.
Yet, despite it not being anything that came out of left field, it still had enough of a draw to drag our sites in a molasses-like abyss of slowdowns and crashes.
If you think people trying to access the sites were upset, being one the people behind the curtain was that much more frustrating.
The fact is, we had plenty of content ready to go, and yet we couldn’t get any of it to go “live” online because of the slowdown.
Which, as was pointed out to me later, a fairly petty thing to complain about in the scheme of things when someone just got fired.
Even if getting fired came with a $5 million payout.
The mental leap from there was trying to think of what the defining moments of the Dooley tenure will be, and, unfortunately, most of the things I thought of weren’t good moments.
In reality, the best “good” moment from his time didn’t even count because UT had 13 men on the field.
While debating that, I started thinking of the other good moments Tennessee has had in my lifetime, how binding those can be for people of varying political, racial, sexual, gender or any other kind of background that can be named.
I thought about how fans from those groups know where they were when Tennessee finally beat Florida in Gainesville, or when Peyton Manning had his run-into-the-line-and-spin-away-and-throw-to-Marcus Nash moment in Athens. Or, for the older fans, moments like Jeff Powell breaking free against Miami or “The Stop” against LSU or any number of other things.
I thought about how those moments are by no means crucial to life on this planet, and yet bring people together in such a way that few others can.
And it dawned on me that having that much emotion riding on it is one of the untalked about side effects of coaching: you don’t have to just win, you don’t have to just win with a clean program, but you have to do it all in such a way that generations removed from the games will still know the intimate details of how you went about it, will know the players and the moments. From Gene McEver to Johnny Butler to Johnny Majors to Hank Lauricella to Peyton Manning, every generation provides a moment and a blueprint for memories to the one that comes after it.
Having to be the one responsible for nurturing that? This Thanksgiving, I know one more thing to be thankful for.