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Jones shows class in Vol victory

Andy Reed • Updated Oct 1, 2016 at 3:30 PM

Watching the second-half catharsis of Tennessee’s win over Florida last week, I kept thinking of all the damage inflicted on the Big Orange by the Gators off and mostly on over the last 25 years.

Used to be, when a team beat the other, it did so gracefully, at least publicly. I don’t remember Alabama players and coaches from the Bear to Saban ever taunting the Vols in public comments. Some of their fans may be obnoxious, but every successful team has those fans who check their good manners at the door come kickoff time.

Watching Big Orange Nation exorcise the Gators, I thought the only thing that would have been better would be for Steve Spurrier to be on the Florida sideline. It was during his watch when he drew the ire of every opposing fan base with his not-so-humble comments toward opponents. In a way, I found it refreshing that he was being different from every other coach, and if he was brutally honest, he didn’t spare his own program from his barbs.

But unfortunately, his players followed his lead and looked very unseemly doing it, trash-talking the Vols on a regular basis and continuing the tradition long after the Ol’ Ball Coach left Gainesville. At least one Gator was doing so even in the days leading up to last Saturday.

When Tennessee had the ball in the red zone in the closing moments last week, I thought if I were the coach, I would pile it on for Peyton, for the fans who had suffered abuse for daring to venture to The Swamp during the Fun ’N Gun era and for Big Orange Nation in general.

But coach Butch Jones was a far better man than I would have been. As soon as there was no way for Florida to get the ball back, he called for the V formation and the party was really on.

It was the right call.

I don’t mean to bring this up every week here, but I need to make an update in the race for the mythical Hicks Trophy which will not, but should, be presented to the best high school football player in Wilson County at season’s end.

I wrote that Mt. Juliet’s offense was so diversified it would be hard for running back Aidan Raines to rack up the stats needed to get serious consideration.

But before Raines or any of the Bears could read it, Raines played his way into contention with 232 yards and three fourth-quarter touchdowns on 33 carries, 24 of which came after halftime, as he and quarterback Mason Earls were the legs and arm for Mt. Juliet in the dramatic 39-32 overtime win at Wilson Central.

For all I know, since this column is written the night before the Friday night games, it’s all together possible another candidate will have emerged last night for the trophy of Wilson Central running backs coach Dwone Hicks smashing a football in his bare hand, which he did in a poster touting him as a Heisman Trophy candidate put out by Middle Tennessee State’s sports information department in 2001.

A lot of people wish that could be the case in the presidential race.

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